ARTIST: Stella Diana
RELEASE DATE: 29th April 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory
Back at the end of 2014 I was presenting an online radio show covering shoegaze and its many sub-genres when I came across a fantastic little Italian based band who fused a plethora of musical genres together to create something rather special. This collective of Neapolitan musicians melded together a heady brew of driving post-punk, melodic dream-pop and hazy shoegaze to produce musical soundscapes so mesmerising that they literally took my breath away. Stella Diana optimise everything that is great with the underground Italian shoegazing scene and they have been steadily building up a massive worldwide fan base every since those early radio show days. Now the band have returned with a blistering full length follow up to 2015’s stunning five track EP ‘Alhena’ via Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records. This new album is called ‘Nitocris’ and it is another positive step in the evolution of a band who may be involved in this reinvented shoegazing scene right now, but who also have the ability to stand out on their own ‘musically’ as we spin into the sonic unknown.
Nitocris by stella diana
The album opens up with ‘Sofia’. Shimmering guitar lines usher in the atmospheric synth swells as the track pushes ripples into the sonic waves around it. It shuffles on a sold bed of percussion as it builds into a wall beautifully golden intensity. Vocally sublime, it unleashes a layered wall of reverberating brilliance and announces the return of a band on the cusp of greatness. Track two, ‘M.9’ is musically reminiscent of ‘Slowdive’ with its emotive walls of reverb until that impressive vocal line adds a subtle injection of brilliant post-punk. It explodes into its chorus progressions with aplomb intertwining with that melodic bass line that adds addictiveness into proceedings. Thoroughly enjoyable. Up next the dark and brooding ‘F.u. Orionis’ musically screams early ‘Cure’ at me as it works through its sonic gears, skulking like a sullen love sick teenager before its soaring chorus parts usher in Stella Diana of old. This is modern day post-gazing at its very, very best and possibly my favourite track on this entire release.
Swirling, droning frequencies circumnavigate that tremulous guitar structure as whispering vocals stream into audible range. Like some sort of modern day Sci-Fi soundtrack the shuffling percussion and throbbing baseline of ‘Sulpher’ carries that impressive vocal like a sonic chariot ambling into battle. This is a beautifully atmospheric track that heaps layer upon layer of sonic frequencies on top of each other to create a blissful wall of golden hued sound. Up next, ‘Aphrodia’ is reminiscent of ‘Drive Blind’ era RIDE with its heavy bass frequencies & shuffling drum patterns coupled with those fuzzy guitars and that barely audible vocal progression. Its only when the synth swells arrive that you get intense attack on your senses and you begin to hear everything in brilliant sonic technicolor. Track six begins with a stunning baseline! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is stuffed to the brim with melody. This for me is the that ‘Next Step’ in a bands evolution that I previously spoke about! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is a completely new side to Stella Diana. It’s song structuring and every single instrument swirling within it is geared towards melody, with the studio gadgetry shaved back and the fuzzy guitars withheld Stella Diana are free to express themselves in a whole new light. It’s a brilliantly written track and worthy of your ears.
Up next is the first single to be lifted from the album. ‘Dedu’n’ is a bass driven atmospheric monolith that skips through multiple layers of reverberating guitar frequencies with aplomb. It’s pounding drum patterns and subtle synth swells carry the entire track as the vocal hangs in a haze of suspended animation and is laid bare for all to hear. The albums penultimate track is called ‘Aya Ray’. A beautifully melodic and thoroughly addictive bass line is this tracks centre piece as all around it shimmers and meanders through intense layers of fuzzy reverberating guitars. Again, the vocals are impressive and the drum track grounds the entire piece as the track skips through an apocalyptic post-punk world, littered with the bones of past shoegazing stalwarts! The albums closer builds from its very first notes. ‘J. Carpenter’ has obvious cinematic connotations as it heaves and lurches through its reverberating layers of hazy atmosphere. There’s an air of post-rock emanating from it too, as instrumentally it swirls around that brilliant vocal sample and carries on into its stunning finale. A fitting end to a game changing album!
Bravo, Stella Diana!
The ‘Nitocris LP’ Had it's official release on the 29th April 2016 via Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records and is available to buy/download right now from: stelladiana.bandcamp.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: Follow The Sea
RELEASE: Blue Joy
RELEASE DATE: 25th May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Häxrummet Records
Stockholm based noisy & experimental psych-gazing duo ‘Follow The Sea’ have returned with their highly anticipated follow up to 2014’s immense four track EP ‘Sibirien’. Comprising of five tracks, ‘Blue Joy’ is peppered with masterful soundscapes each one bringing something sonically different to this modern day musical table. ‘Follow The Sea’ are made up of ‘Erik Solfeldt & Magnus Lilltrollet Lundgren’. Their overall sound drones within layers of blissful reverberation and swirling accumulative fuzz thats circumnavigated by melodically serine vocal progressions and senses pummelling percussive explosions. The album was produced by Niclas Lindgren & Follow the Sea, written by Follow the Sea (Breeze by Niclas Lindgren & Follow the Sea), mastered by Carl Saff, artwork by Erica Anettesdotterr with photos by Erica Anettesdotter & Sara Alf Sökare Eklöf. ‘Blue Joy’ was officially released on the 25th May 2016 via Häxrummet Records and is available to buy/download on various formats from: followthesea.bandcamp.com.
Blue Joy by Follow the Sea
‘Blue Joy’ opens up with the blistering ‘Dive’. A swirling drone lays a solid, guiding foundation before we’re introduced to explosive drums and a massive layered wall of driving guitars. It then takes off like a sonic steam train, weaving and bobbing through expansive golden frequencies that are drenched in stunning guitar effects. The reverberating maelstrom of intense noise ebbs and flows through expertly produced & spacious percussive breaks as the tracks melodic vocal line picks its way through the leftovers of the proceeding sonic attack. ‘Dive’ is brilliantly addictive and a stunning opener. Up next, is the albums’s first single! ‘Virhe’ languishes on a bed rock of repetitive sequenced percussive hits as those hazy synth swells and hypnotic guitars swirl around the psychedelically induced but highly melodic vocal track, thus holding it in a kind of sonic stasis as the track meanders expertly on its chosen course.
A driving, distorted guitar progression coupled with another pounding drum pattern announces the arrival of ‘In Time’ and its not long before we’re treated to another impressive vocal display that leads us into a soaring chorus and on into a blissful break before the track explodes into a cacophony of wonderful noise! The growling, opening chords of the albums’s penultimate track entitled ‘Fall’ leans more into noise-rock territory but their is a subtle swathe of psych-rock coursing through its inner core. The vocals wail and the guitars surf through layers of impressive, sequenced synth progressions that are steeped in impressive reverberating joy! The albums’s closing piece chalks in at fifteen minutes plus. ‘Breeze’ floats into the sonic ether on a wave of droning atmospheric synth that builds from its opening notes. The addition of dark creeping guitar swells add to the building intrigue before ‘Breeze’ explodes into a wonderfully hypnotic wall of intense noise. Subtle vocal hits swim within the swirling sonic maelstrom as ‘Follow The Sea’ close out ‘Blue Joy’ with a brilliant slice of stunning experimental psych-gaze. A thoroughly enjoyable ending to a brilliantly executed album.
ARTIST: I Am Your Captain
RELEASE DATE: 31st May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
‘Glower’ is the brand new eight track debut album from the brilliant UK based ‘I Am Your Captain’, the solo project of Air Formation bass player – Ben Pierce. This latest offering is yet another sublime cinematic journey through layers of reverb drenched shoegaze & it typifies the brilliant sounds crafted by this band on their previous releases! The haunting vocals, yearning (almost subliminal) drum patterns, addictive bass lines & droning atmospheric guitars are what instantly attracted us to this immensely intense band. ‘Glower’ is available to buy/download right now from: iamyourcaptain.bandcamp.com
Glower by i am your captain
The album opens up with ‘I Will Hold You To That’ and we’re instantly thrown head long into an experimental world of noisy drones, repetitive percussive hits and explosive chorus attacks. Pierce’s reverberating vocal progressions swirl intently within the sonic ether as the track pulses and ripples throughout numerous shimmering frequencies that all seem to be held steadfast within a state of suspended sonic animation. A stunning opener! The melodic opening chords of ‘Salt’ pummel the senses before the track unfolds into a blistering three minutes plus of sequenced drums, layered reverb drenched guitars and that hazy but addictive vocal line before ‘Intrusive Thoughts’ enters the fray and swoons on a catchy guitar line courtesy of Matt Bartram (Air Formation / You Walk Through Walls). This track is steeped in glorious reverb and the vocal lines are subdued buy highly addictive. Coupled with those throbbing bass frequencies they collectively plough a sonic furrow through walls of blissfully fuzzy reverberation.
The atmospheric ‘Never Sleep Again’ is a short instrumental interlude that builds from the off as it loops and arcs through a maelstrom of fuzzy noise before the droning blissed out tones of ‘Sever’ float into the ether on a wave of melodic vocal progressions. Up next, is the experimental sounding ‘Where It All Collides’ and here we’re treated to just enough atmospherics to hold that repetitive sequenced drum pattern for long enough to allow the whirlwind of droning guitars and throbbing bass lines, tipped with melodic lead guitar highlights, expertly circumnavigate the subtle vocal progressions that seem to hang suspended in the air like a thick blanket of fog. Utterly delectable and thoroughly enjoyable ‘Where It All Collides’ is probably my favourite track on this entire release.
Rumbling bass frequencies, pounding drums and shimmering guitars announce the arrival of the albums penultimate track! ‘Best Left Alone’ radiates sonic brilliance and is reminiscent of early ‘Super Furry Animals’ with its melodic chorus lift and fuzzy instrumentation. The albums closing piece is is a tremulous wall of reverberating joy. Layer after layer of fuzzy guitar carefully protects that fragile vocal performance as the track meanders through the peaks and troughs of its verse and chorus parts until we reach that stunning sustained finale. ‘Almost’ is a thoroughly enjoyable ending to a magnificent debut album.
ARTIST: The Cult Of Dom Keller
RELEASE: Goodbye To The Light
RELEASE DATE: July 22nd 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
UK based noisy experimental psych aficionados ‘The Cult Of Dom Keller’ have been creating impressive musical soundscapes under the radar for quite some time. Their sound glides on a screaming swathe of intense psychedelic promise thats underpinned vocally with an interesting slice of goth fuelled expressionism! This band inject a shimmering cinematic quality into their music that can seriously alter reality! Now the Midlands based four piece have announced the next chapter in their musical development, the full length ‘Goodbye To The Light’, released on the 22nd July 2016 via the brilliant London based Fuzz Club Records. The album was released on vinyl as a deluxe edition of 300 half-and-half transparent and solid white vinyl in a heavy gatefold sleeve featuring hand numbering, cutouts, embossing and printed inner sleeves. Also as a standard edition of 1000 transparent white vinyl, and CDs.
Like the opening atmospheric score of a 1970’s cinematic thriller, we’re introduced to a sprawling drone coupled with a repetitious two note sequenced synth pattern that swirls within a sea of enveloping golden frequencies. The opening salvo’s of ‘Hole In The Whole’ punch a reverberating pulse through the protective shield of the surrounding musical ether and immediately gets engulfed by creeping vocal lines and a dark malicious guitar squall. Up next, impressionistic fuzzy bass frequencies tickle the outer reaches of the audible range as those distinctly 80’s, almost post-punk sounding vocal progressions, coupled with hypnotic swirling organ swells take hold and drag you kicking and screaming through the blistering prog-leaning ‘Broken Arm Of God’ before the massive sonic surge of ‘Ravens & Rockets’ clatters into earshot and ploughs a dark and foreboding sonic furrow through proceedings.
‘Deepest Pit Of Emptiness’ enters the arena on massive ambient synth swells before we’re hit with enormous resonating bass frequencies shadowing slow malicious vocal lines as it crawls to its dark finality. ‘Tunnel In The Clouds’ floats impressively on a bed of atmospheric organ swells as haunting vocal lines as an increasingly intrusive monotonous drone pulses through layers of reverb before ‘Exterminating Angels’ enters the fray and brings with it a massive swathe of intensity that builds from the off into a maelstrom of beautiful frequential noise. Up next, ‘I Can See You’ pulses and shakes as it winds itself up into a rattling coil and prepares to strike. Thoroughly reminiscent of early experimental stage ‘Nine Inch Nails’ with its brilliant vocal production and those impressively overpowering synth lines. ‘Astrum Argenteum’ brings a blissful layered wall of psychedelic joy to proceedings before the deeply experimental but highly infectious ‘Nothing Left To Say’ cranks up and enters the realm of 70’s psychedelic Sci-Fi chic!
‘Bring Out The Dead’ begins with sequenced poly-rhythmic acoustic progressions coupled with a tempestuous percussive assault and an utterly addictive vocal. It undulates as it works through its gears, constantly evolving and layering instrumentation as it meanders through sonic peaks and troughs. There’s a short instrumental interlude as ‘Waltz Of The Morgellons’, the albums penultimate track, works the floor before we’re introduced to the albums final track, the aptly named ‘Shambhala Is On Fire’. This is a sprawling monolithic animal, jam packed full of reverb induced groove-laden instrumentation that circumnavigates yet another awe inspiring hypnotic and well executed vocal. A stunning finale to a very impressive album.
RELEASE DATE: June 16th 2016
Danish based atmospheric post-gazing four piece ‘FugleFlugten’ self-released their debut five track EP entitled ‘Aftenpragtstjerne’ to the masses back in June. Their sound swirls within a heady mix of reverb induced post-punk, shimmering synth swells and subtle hints of hazily layered shoegaze. Singing in their native tongue, ‘Fugleflugten’ are made up of Rasmus Yde, Frederik Henriksen, Mathias Rosenkilde & Laurits Pilegaard and you can check out the full EP over at: soundcloud.com/fugleflugten/sets/aftenpragtstjerne
Murmuring synth swells coupled with droning guitar frequencies bounce and swirl freely as the opening instrumental bars of ‘Aftenpragtstjerne’ announce themselves to earshot. It quickly burns out only to be replaced by track two, the highly addictive ‘Syv Pelikaner’. This track drives a solid wedge of layered reverberating guitars, soaring synth swells, throbbing bass frequencies and pounding poly-rythmns into one massive cyclonic force that collectively seems to circumnavigate that hauntingly brilliant vocal track. Up next, the atmospheric ‘Det Er På Tide’ floats into the ether on a wave of shimmering guitars that act like a protective barrier surrounding that immense vocal line. Synth progressions swell as the drum track pounds a sonic furrow through proceedings and the track is allowed to breathe and soar with ease, looping and arcing through peaks and troughs of reverberating joy.
The EP’s penultimate piece is my favourite on this entire release. ‘Ensom Galakse’ traverses the outer fringes of expressive post-punk, coupled with brilliantly vivid swathes of atmospheric shoegaze thats all gracefully topped off with soaring synth swells and hazy reverb laden vocals. A stunning track thats worthy of your ears! There’s an intense post-punk swirl streaming through the EP’s closing track. ‘Fugleflugten’ pulses with intent as the bass frequencies growl and hold fast to those impressive drums. There’s a swirling maelstrom of guitars sitting just under the mix allowing for those shimmering vocal lines to soar into the sonic ether. A stunning droning finale to a brilliantly executed EP.
ARTIST: Holy Monitor
RELEASE: Golden Light / Aeolus
RELEASE DATE: July 16th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Ongakubaka Records
Hailing from the sunbaked Mediterranean shores of Greece, experimental neo-psych / krautrock space rockers ‘Holy Monitor’ have had both of their two previous self-released digital EP’s (Golden Light & Aeolus) seamlessly brought together on one fantastic full length album courtesy of Virginia based independent record label ‘Ongakubaka Records’. 'Holy Monitor' blend a stunning mix of neo-psychedelic krautrock & soaring space rock with motorik rhythms and dreamy hypnotic vocalisations that collectively form soundscapes so lusciously inthralling, they will have you hooked from your very first listen. The album is available to buy/download right now with a limited number also available on cassette from: ongakubakarecords.bandcamp.com
Golden Light/Aeolus by Holy Monitor
Like a pulsating beacon of musical promiscuity the opening motorik bars of track one, ‘The Way Out’ ripple outwardly, like some magical pre-ordained mantra, as the piece meanders through throbbing bass lines coupled with hypnotic rhythmic percussive patterns, surging synth swells and a magnificent vocal attack. This is a truly wonderful opening track as it sucks you into the collective mindset of ‘Holy Monitor’ and introduces you to their blissful acid-drenched musical landscape. Up next, we’re treated to a swirling repetitive guitar line intertwined with snaking bass frequencies and another impressive vocal performance. ‘Golden Light’ is full of eastern esoteric influences as its menacing organ swells and stunning reverberation loops and arc’s throughout, painting sonic pictures and instilling shimmering atmosphere.
‘Cacti’ charges into ear shot on a bedrock of pounding drums, swirling guitars and soaring synth swells that are constantly building in tempestuous fashion and continuously circumnavigating that fragile vocal track. It builds from the off adding layer after layer of stunning instrumentation as it deftly skips along its chosen sonic path. Up next, ‘Bend In The Trees’ gracefully glides in on a droning synth progression and a highly addictive guitar line. This track bathes in swathes of stunning reverb as its hushed vocalisations take centre stage continuously urging the instrumentation to keep up with the pace. A brilliantly executed track and possibly my favourite on this entire release. Track five, ‘White Sands’ slows proceedings down a tad initially as a golden cascading organ progression enters audible range. A steady beat is added to the maelstrom before the hypnotically charged vocal arrives and we’re treated to a masterclass of neo-psychedelic discovery.
The EP’s closing track is a thing of beauty. ‘Winterlong’ growls as its supercharged guitar lines expertly protect the immense vocal. Wurlitzing organ progressions swirl as throbbing bass lines add weight to the metronomic swing of the entire track leaving the listener wanting more.
A fitting finale to a stunning release!
ARTIST: Miss Mobile Home
RELEASE: Glimmer Down
RELEASE DATE: June 24th 2016
New York based dreamgazing duo ‘Miss Mobile Home’ have unleashed their highly anticipated full length follow up to 2014’s immense ‘Phototaxis EP’. ‘Glimmer Down’ see’s the band continue to deliver shimmering reverb laced soundscapes coupled with stunningly dreamy vocal progressions that collectively manifest a modern edge to a well worn & highly respected musical genre. The band are made up Chris Stoddard – Guitars, Drums, Synth, Writing & Mixing and Samantha Ritter – Vocals & Synth. ‘Glimmer Down’ had it’s full release on the 24th June 2016 and it is available to buy/download right now from: missmobilehome.bandcamp.com
Glimmer Down by Miss Mobile Home
A swirling maelstrom of repetitive droning noise ushers in ‘Fine Machine’, the album’s opening track and its not long until we’re introduced to a beautifully ethereal vocal courtesy of Ritter, blissfully wrapped within entrancing metronomic percussion and some brilliantly hypnotic guitar lines. Up next, ‘California (Run On)’, begins with a layered wall of reverberating guitar, closely followed by minimal percussive hits intrinsically permeated by wave after wave of beautifully translucent swirling vocal progressions. A stunning track that weaves and arc’s all over the sonic ether. ‘Sleepwalker’ charges into ear shot on rumbling bass frequencies intertwined with a solid foundation of thundering percussion. It soars into its chorus progressions with aplomb and carries the listener with it, daydreaming into the shimmering ether. ‘Hazel Witch’ begins with a subtle psych-gaze twist as those psychedelically induced guitar progressions swirl intently within a dark creeping reverb induced haze. The vocal track wades into the mix pulsing ripples of dreamy frequencies into the melting pot as the track explodes into its chorus parts. Another stunning track thats worthy of your ears.
Up next, ‘Castles’ slows proceedings down considerably as we step off the edge of the world and float on wave after wave of beautifully executed & highly melodic vocals, steeped in spacious reverb and intensely circumnavigated by those stunningly addictive guitar parts. ‘Castles’ is a dream-pop masterpiece! The rumbling opening chords of the albums penultimate track entitled ‘Still’ shatters the ethereal serenity of the aforementioned soundscape and we’re quickly introduced to cascading guitar thrills and another stunning vocal performance. The albums closing piece is utterly addictive. ‘Ronnie’ blasts into earshot on a melodic guitar line, pounding drums and soaring organ swells that seem to hover just under audible range as its haunting vocals balance tentatively on a sonic tight-wire. It streams into a stunning organ break before erupting into a blissful cascading synth line. ‘Ronnie’ is intensely hypnotic, addictively ethereal and its a fitting finale to a stunning release.
ARTIST: Magic Shoppe
RELEASE: Interstellar Car Crash
RELEASE DATE: February 5th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Optical Sounds
Boston based hypnotic noise merchants ‘Magic Shoppe’ are no strangers to creating magnificent dissonant psych driven soundscapes. Their first release, the impressive ‘Reverb EP’ (2010) announced their sonic arrival in style and was quickly followed by their brilliant eight track opus ‘Reverberation’(2011). Then the ‘Triangulum Australe EP’ (2014) took us on a white knuckle thrill ride of mammoth proportions leading us all the way to this latest release, the fantastic 4 track ‘Interstellar Car Crash’ EP. There’s an intense hypnotic buzz surrounding ‘Magic Shoppe’ as their their brand of fuzzy reverb induced psychedelic mayhem rattles through its gears and takes the listener on a melodic journey of discovery. ‘Interstellar Car Crash’ is released via ‘Optical Sounds’ digitally & on a limited edition white 10' Vinyl via MagicShoppe.bandcamp.com
Interstellar Car Crash E.P. by Magic Shoppe
The EP opens up with the magically translucent ‘Salventius’, a hard driven slice of garage psych brilliance that screams through its reverb drenched verse structures and explodes into a whirlwind of bending white noise throughout its chorus progressions. Vocally sublime, ‘Salventius’ is steadied on a foundation of pounding drums, throbbing bass & shimmering guitars. Track two, ‘City Alight (Yeah)’ spins in suspended sonic animation with its hypnotic shuffling drum pattern, stunning guitar arrangements and that addictive shimmering vocal take. The reverb drenched opening salvos of ‘Redhead’ tweaks the senses before exploding into a beautiful cacophony of golden edged psych induced sound that carelessly meanders through wave after wave of layered guitar, impressive bass & pounding drums! ‘Redhead’ loops & arc’s all over the musical spectrum with aplomb and it’s possibly my favourite track on this entire release, if I’m honest.
There’s a mesmerising golden hue surrounding the closing track on this stunning four track EP from Boston based psychedelic explorers ‘Magic Shoppe’ that screams for your attention from its very first note. The triumphant ‘Interstellar Car Crash’ has this uncanny knack of pulling you into it’s hypnotic core and introducing you to its soothing inner workings. It swirls and soars through it’s cloudless, dissonant soundscape with ease and carries you with it as it goes. Simply stunning!
RELEASE: Alhena EP
RELEASE DATE: November 27th 2015
It’s hard to believe just how far ‘Stella Diana’ have come since their last full release '41 61 93' back in 2014. I know that they’ve appeared on various shoegaze compilations since then with various covers etc & that they have just penned a new record deal but leaving all of that aside, this band have continued collectively to create a beautiful concoction of mesmerising & melodically astute shoegaze while vocally using their home language, rather impressively I might add, as a method with which to transport their sonic message to their fairly immense worldwide fanbase. That in itself should be applauded in my opinion & thats even before we peel back the outer layers of this latest outing – ‘Alhena’, released via their newly acquired independent record label ‘Vipchoyo Sound Factory’.
Alhena by Stella Diana
Scientifically speaking the meaning dictated for ‘Alhena’ is – “Its an evolving star exhausting the supply of hydrogen at its core and has entered the sub-giant stage”. If you attach the above definition to ‘Stella Diana’ you can quickly understand how this band have exhausted their small time musical surroundings and are now moving out of the underground into a much larger musical orbit. Its amazing to see & even better to hear as some of these tracks were previously available via the bands bandcamp page (albeit without the production & mastering skills of Ferndale Productions Mark Joy & Alexander Kretov of Ummagma Studios) and have now been beautifully mixed & mastered by the afore mentioned individuals to the extent that they now weave & arc through layers of amazing sonic brilliance. ‘Stella Diana’ are Dario Torre – Vocals & Guitar, Giacomo Salzano – Bass, Roberto Amato – Guitar, Raffaele Boccheti – Guitar & Davide Fusco – Drums & they hail from the beautiful city of Naples.
The opening track & lead single ‘Shohet’ explodes into the ether with a fuzzy undercurrent intertwined with melodic guitar patterns & hazy shimmering tone. It has, as we’ve come to expect from ‘Stella Diana’, a sublime vocal track that is jammed full of gorgeous melody. Up next is a trip to 1990’s heaven. ‘Caulfield’ drives & ploughs through another impressive musical structure reminiscent at times to early Belgian stalwarts ‘Deus’ crossed with Manchunian wonders ‘The Stone Roses’. Go listen to it!!! Track 3 – ‘Bill Carson’ brings the song writing skills of ‘Stella Diana’ to the fore with melodic chord progressions full of purposefully addictive peaks & troughs. Another solid tune, masterfully mixed & produced. Up Next – ‘Mira’ is utterly addictive without being overly lush. It explodes in the breaks & drives through the verses with its repetitive bass line & almost droning space rock like guitars. A triumph of a track that is most definitely the stand out for me on this whole release. Closing the proceedings is a cover version of a track originally released by 1990’s psychedelic underachievers ‘Kula Shaker’ entitled ‘Govinda’. Not for me really but you can understand why the band would include it on this release as it fits into the over all ascetic of ‘Alhena’ & obviously has deep meaning that only the band can explain.
Overall this is an impressive debut release by a band whom I have a lot of time for. If you are new to the impressive sounds of ‘Stella Diana’ then this is a great starting point on your sonic adventure. For me though, the band have a lot more to give & I eagerly await some brand new material.
ARTIST: The Underground Youth
RELEASE DATE: March 4th 2016
‘The Underground Youth’ are something of a musical enigma. This Manchester based four piece have been collectively creating a heady blend of shoegaze, post-punk and psych rock with ease since 2008 to produce an overall sound so hypnotically mesmerising that I’m constantly floored every single time that I hear them. The band originally self released their third stunning long player entitled ‘Mademoiselle’ back in 2010 and now it’s getting the full on Vinyl treatment courtesy of the ever consistent London based Fuzz Club Record‘s and is available right now via FuzzClub.Com.
Mademoiselle by The Underground Youth
‘Mademoiselle’ begins with the intensely vivid 'Hope & Pray'. This opening track snakes its way through the musical landscape on a wave of tambourine shakes, subtle percussive hits, shimmering guitars and that instantly recognisable vocal courtesy of Craig Dyer. I’m totally transfixed with ‘Mademoiselle’, the self titled second track on this impressive release. It lazily meanders on an addictive guitar progression that swirls around that impressive vocal line before it cleverly injects some distortion into the chorus, thus balancing everything out nicely. The metronomic ‘Underground’ hypnotises you from the off whilst ‘Olya’s Song’ is a beautiful slice of dreamy, melodic brilliance. Vocally heart wrenching in its entirety but jam packed full of sonic finesse none the less, the atmospheric cover version of the endemic ‘Spacemen 3’ track ‘Lord Can You Hear Me?’ shimmers and radiates while the pentatonic ‘Crash (BSA JAM)’ introduces us to a full drum kit for the first time, albeit with the obligatory hypnotic percussion track and tambourine accompaniment, collectively shuffling through their sonic gears alongside the impressive lead guitar attack.
‘Iggy The Eskimo’ echoes in a world of spacious reverb as the sparse guitar progressions and that radiant vocal track hug each other intently. It’s a stunning track. There’s a subtle menacing drone teetering on the outer fringes of ‘Une Saison En Enfer’ that vies for this listeners attention as the instrumentation builds and that hypnotic psych induced vocal track cuts the sonic tension like a sharp knife. Up next ‘Hedonism’ swims in a sea of swirling reverberating sound waves, repetitive up tempo drum patterns and shimmering guitars whilst ‘Feel So Free’ calms proceedings down considerably to a golden acoustic hued lustre.
The albums closing track ‘Mercury Guitar’ has an interesting post-rock edge, intertwined with a stunningly atmospheric but insanely experimental psych rock swirl that grabs your attention from its very first note. An impressive finale to a very impressive album.