RELEASE DATE: 22nd September 2017
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.
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: The Radiation Flowers
RELEASE: Summer Loop
RELEASE DATE: 7th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Sunmask/Cardinal Fuzz
Saskatoon based psych-gaze quartet 'The Radiation Flowers' have been very, very busy this summer. Not only have they released a fantastic split EP with fellow Canadian's 'Hawkeyes Doom' (which we have previously reviewed for Primal Music), but now they've just unleashed what is in our opinion one of the best albums of 2017 so far in the guise of 'Summer Loop', a seven track thrill ride through impressive layers of psych, shoegaze and alternative sounds that will leave you absolutely floored. The band are made up of Shelby Gaudet - guitar/vocals, Amber Ross - drums/percussion, Christopher Laramee – guitar & Jay Allen - bass/vocals and 'Summer Loop' is available to buy on lovely limited release 350 eco-colour vinyl's & 50 limited edition vinyl replica jacket CD-R's via the ever reliable Cardinal Fuzz Records (UK) & Sunmask (USA) or digitally via theradiationflowers.bandcamp.com
Summer Loop by The Radiation Flowers
Fuzzy guitar progressions build menacingly as ‘Just Go Away’ announces itself as a brooding psych-gaze gem. Steady percussion underscored with throbbing bass frequencies pull floating dual vocal lines into audible range as the soaring hammond organ infused chorus hook is generously whipped by vivacious lead lines and the luscious swirl of reverberation. Coming in at just under six minutes long ‘Just Go Away’ is infectiously addictive and a stunning opening salvo. Up next, ‘Walking Down The Street’ is steeped in melody as tremulous guitars ride a woozy swell of hammond and a cascading bass line. Slow ambling drum patterns hold a hypnotic beat as entrancing vocal lines weave and bob in and out through layers of resonating sonic waves and wall of sound reverberations. ‘Colours’ glistens into earshot on a swirling organ progression as a mesmerising vocal performance dances along on a bedrock consisting of a throbbing bass line and punchy drum patterns. Jangling guitars envelope the entire piece, placing a protective layer around those impressive vocal lines thus reinforcing deep melody in the process.
‘Dancing In The Flames’ growls into existence held fast in a turbulent whirlwind filled with growling guitars, angry bass frequencies and thunderous percussion. Lysergic lead lines lick and harass a punk edged vocal take as we’re drawn headlong into a cacophony of raging psych induced instrumentation that is absolutely drenched in stunning reverberation. ‘Sunrise’ injects some 60’s psych-pop connotations into proceedings as it bounces along on a mid-tempo drum pattern and a repetitive guitar progression underscored with bubbling bass frequencies and that swirling instrumental drone. Intricate lead guitar lines and another impressive vocal performance tie everything together brilliantly and that catchy synth laden break is immense. Up next, the instrumental beast that it ‘Summer Of Burnout’ ambles into audible range tumbling menacingly in a glistening synth drone, a throbbing bass line and acid drenched guitar progressions. Those bass notes are utterly addictive and they drag you with them through layer after layer of undulating psych-gaze as the constant thud of percussion keeps steady metronomic time. The album closes out with ‘Walking (Reprise)’, a lysergic acoustic filled dreamscape that swirls beautifully in a luscious cloud of resonating sound, sporadically pierced by subtle percussive stabs, intense reverberations and delayed swells of instrumentation. A stunning finale to a mesmerising 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 and 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.
ARTIST: Hawkeyes / Radiation Flowers
RELEASE: Split EP
RECORD COMPANY: Sunmask / Cardinal Fuzz
Ontario based heavy psych aficionados 'Hawkeyes' have joined forces with Saskatoon natives 'Radiation Flowers' on a brand new five track 'Split EP' that is absolutely immense. Stacked with massive walls of hypnotic acid drenched noise 'Hawkeyes' formed back in 2012 (apparently out of sheer boredom) and began self-releasing tracks on cassette before their debut album 'Poison Slows You Down' was picked up by Helmet Lady Records back in 2015. 'Radiation Flowers' on the other hand create spacious psychedelically charged shoegaze permeated at times by edgier, fuzzier moments of sonic contemplation accompanied by floating vocalisations that hark back to that early 4AD sound. The album gets it's full release on the 7th July 2017 via 'Sunmask' and the ever reliable Cardinal Fuzz Records and it available to pre-order right now on colour vinyl with full colour printed inner sleeve via cful.bandcamp.com
'Hawkeyes' open up proceedings with the first of two tracks; 'Atom Heart Motherfuckers Never Learn' swirls into audible range stuck firm to a warbling atmospheric guitar progression steeped in hypnotic reverberations. Sparse flourishes of cymbal and fizzing fret noise pull a massive surge of instrumentation into play as growling guitars, humming bass and steady percussion gently pushes us out into a turbulent sonic sea. Wailing lead lines whip up a sonic frenzy as a pulsing metronomic procession of drums and bass keep up a steady tempo for eight minutes plus, acting like some sort of sonic chariot meandering through layer after layer of spaced out grooves and ambient hued textures before 'Hawkeyes' briefly slip their spaced out ambient leanings and explode into a riotous sonic behemoth filled with darker, heavier guitar progressions and explosive accompanying instrumentation, goading the listener with their impressive mind bending production. All in all this is a massive opening salvo. Their second track entitled 'Creator Destroyer' floats into earshot on a wave of intense atmosphere deftly enveloped in beautifully textured acoustic guitar progressions and hushed vocal tones. That illusion is quickly shattered however as they explode into a cacophony of fuzz and reverb. Soaring lead guitars intertwine with delay & the pull of wah-wah to create a claustrophobic wall of hypnotic sound that builds and builds, tumbling brilliantly through rolling percussion and driving bass frequencies before culminating in a wind swept spoken word finale.
'The Radiation Flowers' unfurl '33 Floors Up', a pulsating sonic behemoth that pounds its way through the ether on a resonating wave of instrumentation swirling magnificently through layer after layer of tantalising reverberations. Soaring guitars traverse huge organ swells and there's no let up to the meandering whip of turbulent frequencies as this track explodes into the ether. Up next, 'Always On the Ground' bounds into earshot rocking giddily on a throbbing bass progression before squally synth hits add a sliver of comedy. Off kilter percussion drags itself into the mix accompanied by luscious lead guitars drenched in subtle feedback, effected fret noise and lashings of reverb. The collective instrumentation builds into a rolling wash of sound as beautifully translucent vocalisations ebb and flow into earshot underscored by an off putting organ drone before huge swathes of noise erupt, adding blistering atmospheric depth that seems undulates on that bouncing bass line. The album closes out with 'Never Fade' as 'The Radiation Flowers' meld tremulous shoegaze & indie rock with 60's psych flair. Surging organ swells ride a steady drum pattern as swirling lead guitar lines wrap themselves around another impressive vocal performance. Catchy chorus changes coupled with intricate guitar progressions keep this listener interested as the band inject some serious jolts of melody into proceedings. A fantastic ending to a rather interesting split release.
ARTIST: Bleach Bath
RELEASE: It'll Get Worse If You Let It.
RELEASE DATE: 9th April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Formed earlier this year, Ontario based heavy shoegaze three piece 'Bleach Bath' have unleashed a stunning three track demo entitled 'It'll Get Worse If You Let It', an immense prelude to what these guys can create going forward. Their sound shimmers in a haze of fuzzy layered reverberations & ghostly vocalisations collectively underpinned at times by heavier passages of driving alt-rock formulated to allow their sound to soar into the ether, riding a senses pummelling percussive swagger that doesn't give up! 'It'll Get Worse If You Let it' is available to buy/download right now from bleachbathto.bandcamp.com
it'll get worse if you let it by Bleach Bath
The demo opens up trapped in a shimmering translucent wall of guitars as 'Sick Of Me' pulls up it's sleeves and digs in to it's sonic surroundings. Noisy guitar squall echoes and squeals as this track winds itself up into a jittering sonic ball and unleashes a wave of throbbing bass frequencies and driving percussion. The arrival of ghost like vocal lines lay a veil of atmosphere over proceedings as the chorus progressions explode into a cacophony of noise and fuzz leading us into a swirling finale of droning guitars and steadying instrumentation. Up next, 'Worse' charges into the arena ploughing a deep furrow and dragging noisy guitars, humming bass lines and explosive drum patterns into audible range. Soaring lead lines add weight as 'Worse' moves through it's fuzz laden gears with ease and is reminiscent at times to early shoegaze pioneers 'Swervedriver' in it's production arrangement and overall approach.
The EP closes out with 'Shampoo', a soaring behemoth that resonates and reverberates through walls of noisy guitars, steadying percussion and probably the best vocal performance on the entire release. It lifts brilliantly through it's chorus parts injecting some refreshing alt-rock permutations into the mix as it shifts again and streams back into a melodious verse progressions. Reminiscent at times to early 'Dinosaur Jr' or any of those early nineties underground noise-rock outfits, 'Shampoo' is probably my favourite track on the release and it's a fitting ending to wonderfully addictive demo. I can't wait to hear what comes next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (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.
ARTIST: Well Being
RELEASE: Well Being
RELEASE DATE: 25th November 2016
Bright but dark, heavy but soft and alternative but approachable, the debut album of Toronto’s 'Well Being' turns the face of post-punk to look into an indie mirror to create some sort of wild and heavy piece of psych-rock. Each song shimmers in its own right, but the albums background is where the real reward lies; beautiful textured pieces of instrumentation and subtle but neat FX push the sound forward for the listener in a way that highlights everything smart about conventional (mostly) guitar lead music. However, the album scores clever points with the clean and crisp production, sounding at equals (or perhaps even better) than ‘pro’ bands. This point locks in with the aforementioned comment about Well Being’s power of musical textures. 'Well Being' is by no means a leap forward in the world of music; there is little genre or avant-garde experimentation, there’s no wildly obtuse production techniques, it’s just well-written and very well produced music by a band who clearly know what they are doing.
Well Being by Well Being
Well Being opens with ‘Fear, Love and Everything in Between’ and it showcases the albums clean and crisp production; the vocals hover easily over a slow and steady drum beat that floats away on a post-punk guitar line before rolling straight into the emotive psych-pop the band revisits and revisits over the course of the release. The outro morphs the song again, with the beautiful and intelligent guitar picking away in the background adding weight to the already heavy sound. ‘The Kuleshov Effect’ follows with a more conventional/indie sound and an utterly brilliant sounding chorus. As far as instrumentation goes, the sounds and textures presented on the song are definitely a highlight. This is followed by the rock-influenced ‘Hands Tied’, with its post-punk sounding guitar and passages of song built around a more psych-rock aesthetic. ‘Waterboarding’ may be the albums best track. Its claustrophobic, indie tongue in cheek guitar mix with the clean and precise vocals, proclaiming lyrics that sound like somebody trying to coax another into using heavy drugs… Or maybe getting water boarded. That was a joke. ‘Habitual’ follows this blueprint to a slower tempo. The drums tap along slowly while the guitars play a psych influenced post-punk riff; the vocals hover over in a squeaky clean fashion and the whole song ties itself together with the bands previously explored sound. ‘Jean Seberg’ is the point on the album when you turn around and say ‘hey, wait… Haven’t I heard this before?’ The point where the bands ultra clean sound begins to wear thin. And just to clarify, ‘Jean Seberg’ is a good and well written song… It’s just that it seems to be re-using an already re-used formula.
Thankfully, the engaging and energetic ‘I Walk Through Clouds’ follows on and adds another element to the band’s sound. ‘I Walk Through Clouds’ sees Well Being step into an alternative rock space that features an almost pop punk sound throughout the entire song. The outro screams ‘I don’t need you anymore, I don’t need you anymore’ make sure that the listener feels as if they are listening to a rock and guitar driven song. ‘Don’t Complicate It’ could have, or should have, been a B-side, or C-side for that matter. Enough said. ‘Girls of Kilimanjaro’ is a brilliant, deep track that almost saves the band in a way. It’s instrumental and dazzling lead in carves the way for an indie rock guitar based song that bounces around in the listeners face. The bands instruments sound dirtier, or perhaps less focused on sounding clean, giving a neat breeze of authenticity to the song and its placement within the context of the album.
While perhaps the band and those associated with the album would love to have it slated as a piece of post-punk or indie music, the honest and obvious truth is that this lands closer to a conventional rock album more than any of those genres. Even the moniker of ‘psych-pop’ doesn’t seem appropriate… Some of the album even sounds like crisp and clean ‘modern’ pop punk. And this in itself is enough for some listeners to walk away in a haze of disinterest and cringe. But the truth is that it’s a very well written album. The majority of songs show a maturity and sort of simple complexity in them, and the musical textures prove to be a rewarding experience in themselves. Sure, the production is very clean… But it’s done so as to avoid sounding artificial and that fact in itself should be applauded. Some won’t like it, some won’t even look at it; but I proclaim to listen closely and enjoy the bands neat song writing skills, showed through production, playing and sound.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
Winter Tale by Ummagma
One of our favourite bands here at the Primal Music blog, the brilliant 'Ummagma', release their dreamy track 'Winter Tale' and it's stunning accompanying A.R Kane remix to the masses on January 12th 2017. 'Ummagma' are the Canadian based duo of Shauna McLarnon & Alexander Kretov who collectively create beautifully intense sonic soundscapes that touch the outer reaches of shoegaze whilst swirling deftly through a world of electronically charged ethereal dream pop. The band have joined forces on the B - Side of this release with a seductive remix courtesy of celebrated dream pop pioneer and 4AD recording legend A.R.Kane who lends his immensely dissonant touches to the breathless 'A.R Kane Mix 69 Style' which along with a radio edit book ends this impressive three track release.
'Winter Tale' was originally released as part of the the bands 'Frequency EP' back in December 2015 and it swoons into audible range held fast within a blissfully ethereal bubble, seductively filled with glorious vocalisations, almost subliminal sequenced percussive hits and rather impressive electronic instrumentation courtesy of the amazing Alex Kretov. McLarnon's vocals are deliciously harmonious as they meld effortlessly with those sweeping synth laden drones and the reverb heavy instrumentation coupled with intensely peaceful sonic textures to create a festive sonic soundtrack perfectly positioned for this time of year.
'Winter Tale' is available to buy/download right now from ummagma.bandcamp.com