RELEASE DATE: December 4th 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Do you like your dream pop lush, thick, full of ambient undertones and ethereal texturings? If so, look no further than the new Heligoland EP - 'Coriallo', a mixture of the deepest most harmonious dream pop mixed with the kind of ambience relative to somebody like Eno or even Robin Guthrie. In fact, this EP is mixed, produced and mastered by the man himself, known for his contributions to what we now know as ethereal wave and alternative rock in general via his stint in the famous Cocteau Twins. His touch and contribution on the EP are highly notable; I felt like some of the songs atmospherically sounded very similar to 'Guthries' - Continental (released 2006), a brilliant mixture of instrumental ambience that I highly recommend. Anyway, thankfully here Guthrie's position as producer only adds to the band and their sound; he leaves room for originality while enhancing elements of the bands performance and texturing, to achieve brilliant sounds for the listener. 'Coriallo' was officially released back on December 4th 2017 and is available to buy/download right now on various formats via heligoland.bandcamp.com
Coriallo by Heligoland
'Coriallo' opens with ‘Elk’; a low, downtempo and moody track that is built around the slow tempo of the drums and the shimmering background soundscapes of what I assume is some kind of synth. Guitar tones are lush and dreamy, reverberating and echoing around the mix, mingling with the voice. Speaking of which, the vocals remain extremely emotive for the whole song, somewhat clear in the mix but always suitable to the music. Lines like ‘I want to turn away/ because the right way seems to fool my mind’ become fully realized and emphasised by the beauty and patience of the vocals on the song. ‘Orion’ almost does away with the drums in favour of a more guitar based sound; the entire song is like a conversation between the vocals and the guitar. Deep down at the back of the mix, the drums steadily roll along with the rhythm. Structural the song feels free form; a fact that makes the listener pay closer attention to the performances and sounds. In turn these elements hold their own, assisted greatly by Guthries technical wizardry.
‘Anavo’ begins strong but enters a rough patch where it begins to sound like background music as the melodies and sound drift off distantly. The vocals enter a pitch range that seems a tad too comfortable with the guitar, creating a melding together of instruments that seems to kind of alter the music into background sounds. I’m glad to say though, that the followup ‘Three’ puts things back on course for the band. This track uses the same downtempo mood as the opener; the guitars are strummed distantly along with the beautiful sound of dreamy synths in the background. The vocals become a heavier, more defined sound, and the bass and drums step up to form a truly enjoyable rhythm section. The second half of the song is especially brilliant, and certainly a high point for the album in terms of the guitar. ‘Trust’ is possibly the best song on the EP; layered, emotive vocals open the mix and push it forward: layers of immaculately mediative guitars and atmospherics cover the corners of the sound… a truly beautiful song.
Rumour has it that Heligoland, with Guthrie producing, are releasing a full length album, which makes me consider a few things in relation to my thoughts on the album. Firstly, before that, I have to say that I really did enjoy this EP. I loved the performances, I love the texturings and the songwriting, and perhaps most of all I liked the production and overall quality of the sound. But, five songs was about enough. What I mean by this is by the time I reached the fifth track, I had heard just about as much slow simple drum beats, a particular vocal pitch and the lush roll of guitars that one could. On a full length, things may have to be altered a bit, or the same recipe may make the food taste bland. This EP however, pertains to the not too little and not too much rule, landing somewhere neatly in a place that makes it what some would call a comfortable listen. Things are glistening, things are beautiful, things are slightly contemplative and things are personified, positively transfigured and majestically presented through pure, beautiful 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
RELEASE DATE: 24th January 2018
Noisy Spanish based quartet 'Uniforms' create an atmospheric mix of noisy layered shoegaze and alternative rock deftly underpinned with dreamy & melodic vocalisations and connotations of sullen noise-pop. The band are made up of Pan - drums/vocals, Laura - bass /vocals, Spingel - guitar/vocals & Annie - synth/lead vocals. Their debut four track EP entitled 'Equals' was self-released back on January 24th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via uniformsband.bandcamp.com
EQUALS by UNIFORMS
Swirling instrumental drones bellow and shimmer as the opening salvos of ‘Addicted’ meander into audible range. Angry guitars add beautiful atmosphere as it’s percussive assault pulses through layers of hazy reverberation. Jangling, layered guitar progressions accompany mesmersing vocal lines out of the sonic melee as we move through huge verse patterns and on into monumental chorus changes. The production values on this track are epic. They swirl and intertwine effortlessly with some influential sounds such as shoegaze, dream-pop and noise rock to create a wall of sonic bliss. Up next, the opening bars of 'Pearls' floats and swirls through shimmering clouds of instrumental atmosphere before exploding into a kaleidoscope of sonic colour as it roars skywards in a tumble g ball of collective instrumentation. There are hints of post-punk echoing on that trembling bass line as it's fragile vocals arrive accompanied by occasional strums of guitar and that huge synth line. The chorus progressions on this track are absolutely huge and they envelope layered backing vocals beautifully. 'Pearls' is big, bold and brash and quite possibly my favourite track on the entire release.
'Don't Wake Up', the EP's penultimate piece, leans heavily into shoegaze as it's opening walls of sound reverberate and surge on layers of angry guitar, resonating synth and repetitive percussion. Deep penetrating bass frequencies swirl through the clouds of noise as glorious vocal lines emerge, cutting deep trenches of clarity as they meander through the haze. This track is masterful and another definite highlight on this released for me. 'Equals' closes out with 'Gris'. A repetitive line of electronic sequencing opens proceedings, followed quickly by lines of jangling guitars and subtle swells of synth. A very enticing drum track tweaks this listeners ear as the hum of bass guitar throbs just below the mix and those dreamy vocal lines arrive to wash a kind of ethereal glow over the entire piece. As I've come to realise throughout this whole EP, 'Uniforms' song structures are built to inject massive chorus changes into every track and 'Gris' is no different. It soars into the ether on resonating surges of noisy but melodic guitar, swirling synth and pounding percussion as beautifully intense vocal lines ride the sonic wave skywards. It's a brilliant closing track and another highlight on this release for me. As EP's go, 'Equals' has something very addictive coursing through it's veins. It's thoroughly enjoyable and I'm very eager to hear what comes next from this band.
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 genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE DATE: 18th January 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Austin Town Hall Records
It's been a year or so since we last heard from Austin based dream-gaze quartet 'Blushing'. The band are made up of two husband and wife pairs, Christina Carmona - vocals/bass, Michelle Soto - guitar/vocals, Noe Carmona - guitar/keyboard/vocals & Jake Soto - drums and their dreamy ethereal tones first came to the fore back in January 2017 on their four track self-released debut EP 'Tether' and since then the band have gone from strength to strength by signing to 'Austin Town Hall Records' and now returning with their highly anticipated sophomore release. 'Weak' is a massive step forward in their overall development as a band. It's five luscious tracks are filled with dreamy shimmering soundscapes, precise layered musicianship and well crafted songs that are all enveloped by absolutely sublime vocalisations. The EP gets it's official release via Austin Town Hall Records on January 18th 2018 and is available to pre-order right now from both athrecords.bandcamp.com and weareblushing.bandcamp.com respectfully.
Weak by Blushing
'Weak' opens up with it's title track and we're soon swooning to it's beautifully intense opening vocals tethered to textured guitars drenched in swirling reverb. Subtle synth swells bubble up below the mix before the track explodes into a kaleidoscope of sonic colours as 'Blushing' unleash a blissed out sonic concoction of catchy guitars, humming bass and steadying percussion. Hook laden chorus progressions soar and glide effortlessly before we're pulled into a beautiful instrumental break that builds ever so slowly, gaining momentum with each progression until eventually exploding into a huge shoegaze tinged masterpiece. This is absolutely immense, a huge step forwards in sound and production and a fantastic opening salvo indeed. Up next, 'Hidden Places' unfurls it's sonic tendrils and instantly catches the ear with it's panned guitars and punchy drum pattern. Throbbing bass frequencies meld effortlessly with the strum of guitar as swirling reverberations intertwine with throughly addictive vocal lines. 'Hidden Places' is a glorious affair that surges into catchy chorus breaks filled with shimmering frequencies and glistening production values.
'Bliss' jangles into audible range quivering on a jangling guitar strum, drenched in delayed reverb. Synth lines sway and move angelically, alongside the deep penetrating hum of bass and a full sounding drum kit. Again, I'm mesmerised by those melodically beautiful vocal tones and the way they float and eddy atop of the collective instrumentation and those immense chord changes that seem catch this listeners breath and instantly pull you into every single note. 'Bliss' is a mesmerising track and definitely one of highlights on the entire release. Up next, 'Blushing' unleash the heaviest track on the album and probably their most 'shoegaze' orientated one too. 'Bound', the albums penultimate track, explodes into a melee of sonic waves as it moves a massive wave of sound before it, caused at first by the deep boom of bass accompanied by explosive percussion and driving guitars and quickly nullified by another impressive vocal performance that seems to calm proceedings down by ushering in some dreamier vibes. It moves slowly, carried throughout by jangling guitars and swooning percussion as cascading bass frequencies wash over everything. It's verse parts are sublime but it's the chorus progressions where things get very, very interesting. 'Bound' is a clear sign for me that 'Blushing' as a band have at last honed the skill of songwriting and are now on top of their game.
The album closes out hovering blissfully on the throb of heady bass frequencies and the swoosh of reverb tinged guitars. 'Love You Twice' is a luscious slice of melodic dream-pop dipped in exquisite reverberation and layered at times with sticky shoegaze finery. It's immensely addictive and filled to the brim with swirling instrumentation that will leave you floored. 'Love You Twice' is a fitting book-end to what is a marvellous sophomore release. Bravo 'Blushing'.
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.
ARTIST: Your Friends Polymers
RELEASE: v chuzhoi strane
RELEASE DATE: December 12th 2017
The clear choir-like vocals on the latest release from 'Your Friends Polymers' seem to evoke the most quintessential illusions of English village life. In fact, the four piece are from Samara, Russia, which is altogether more intriguing. Following on from the shimmering 'Chudesa EP' from December 2015, the 6 track 'V Chuzhoi Strane' was released last month and is constructed from lustrous summery sound. The EP is available to buy/download right now via yourfriendspolymers.bandcamp.com
v chuzhoi strane by your friends polymers
Opening track 'Bees' flows between a swell of swooping guitar, before the pace slows and the vocals soar, inducing a very pleasing wooziness. The 90s jangle of 'No Dice' has the Sweetness and Light of Lush and pops along dreamily. Delicate delayed guitar coaxes 'Little Box' into life, contrasting with the insistent drums which push along. The chorus has a melody that is fit for a cathedral. Title track 'V Chuzhoi Strane' is a collection of icy shards catching the light with angular beauty.
The frosty electronic taps of 'At The Depths Of The Gulf Stream' soon melt into a melodious concoction topped with a sweet refrain. The bass sets the groove of the instrumental '48' which ends this EP with a breezy air - appropriate as it has brought some much needed light and air to this dark January.
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
Ecuadorian dream-gazers 'Sexores' have released the first single entitled 'Bluish Lovers' from their highly anticipated third album 'East/West'. The album gets its full release on Vinyl & CD via the Latin American based independent record label 'Buh Records' on March 15th 2018 with digital distribution being handled through 'Recoop', a brand new Ecuadorian based record label and production company. This time around 'Sexores' have experimented with different sounds to meld their traditional shoegaze/dream-pop values with a more modern twist by injecting synths and electronic futurism into eight dreamy tracks to create something sonically fantastic.
'Bluish Lovers' swirls and bounces on layers of bright shimmering synth as sequenced percussion pulses underfoot championing dark humming bass lines and captivating vocalisations that wrap themselves effortlessly around cascading electronics drenched in swathes of luscious reverberation. Majestic in its flow, highly infectious and mesmerising in its entirety, 'Bluish Lovers' is a triumph and this in turn only bodes well for the entire album.
2017 has been colossal in terms of underground music releases. Nearly all of the bands who we had expected to release new music this year did so and we also had some immense new arrivals to the scene, pushing boundaries and making waves all on their own. With the vast amount of submissions that we get to the blog on a daily basis it was very difficult to review all of them, we tried our best and we endeavoured to condense who we deem top contenders for our best releases of 2017 list down to a reasonable bunch of candidates. End of year lists generate conversations about bands who deserve support from small online publications like ours. So, from the veritable Fuzz Club Records to Edinburgh's 'Morningside Young Team', Sweden's VÅRØ Records to 'Blackspin Records' over in Greece and on into 'Wrong Way Records' over in the UK, Ireland's own Penske Recordings and straight through to the awesome American based Saint Marie Records we've tripped the sonic fantastic with this years 'End Of Year List' bringing you some blistering psych, sublime shoegaze, dreamy dream pop & atmospheric post-rock for your listening pleasure and you didn't even have to vote for one single entry!
Happy Christmas one and all and we'll see you all in 2018 for more fun and frolics!
Primal Music & Radio
Holy Monitor - Holy Monitor
Holy Monitor by Holy Monitor
2017 kicked off with a bang and we were introduced to a band back in January who absolutely blew our minds. Stunning Athens based experimental psych/kraut rock collective 'Holy Monitor' released their debut self-titled full length release filled to the brim with luscious soundscapes that skip through a multiple of different sonic disciplines with blistering aplomb. Released via 'Primitive Music Records' in collaboration with 'Blackspin Records' , this album is a total trip!
Dead Gurus - Acid Bench
ACID BENCH (On Sale 50% Off) by Dead Gurus
Dark and foreboding, menacing and hypnotic, Minnesota based psych aficionados 'Dead Gurus' are no strangers to this modern underground psych scene. The band are made up of Jason Edmonds (Magic Castles), Bennett Johnson, Collin Gorman Weiland (Daughters of the Sun and Dreamweapon) & Ryan Garbes (Wet Hair) and what they collectively create is a no holds barred, deeply entrancing thrill ride through the darker side of the psychedelic spectrum. Their seven track opus entitled 'Acid Bench' was unleashed on February 17th 2017 via the exciting UK based independent record label 'Wrong Way Records'.
Percolator - Sestra
Sestra LP by Percolator
Dublin based three piece 'Percolator' have been creating electronically charged experimental standards drenched in poly-rhythmic kraut rock connotations underscored with subtle flourishes of shoegaze, prog rock & resonating noise since 2012 with the bands core lineup of Ian Chestnutt - guitar/vocal, Eleanor Myler - drums/vocal & John Murphy - bass staying true to the project since its conception. They popped up on our radar back in 2013 with the immense 'Little Demon' EP (which we played tracks from religiously over on our sister radio station Primal Radio) and they returned this year with a staggering collection of eight tracks packaged as 'Sestra', released via Cork based independent record label Penske Recordings.
Wozniak - Courage Reels
Courage Reels by Wozniak
Having wowed us all with their musical presence over previous EP releases, the sonic force that is Edinburgh's noisemakers 'Wozniak' unleashed a stunning collection of tracks in the guise of their highly anticipated debut album deftly titled 'Courage Reels'. This album tumbles through a plethora of immense genres generating enough power through each endearing track to continuously turn industrial strength turbines! Stand out tracks on this release are 'Crush, Shader, Perihelion and Super Panther', but the whole album is immense from start to finish. It was released back in April via the Edinburgh based independent record label 'Morningside Young Team' and worthy of your ears. Recommended!
Todavía - Shyness
Shyness by todavía
Los Angeles based dream pop aficionado Todavía aka self-releasing multi instrumentalist Rhyan Riesgo unleashed a highly anticipated brand new eight track album entitled 'Shyness' via the bands bandcamp page back in April. Todavía's sound is distinctly dreamy, with hushed synth swells, sequenced percussion, swirling guitars and shimmering reverberation that all circumnavigates that almost ethereal vocal tone. This album is luscious, addictive and a very early contender for our year end list.
Has A Shadow - Sorrow Tomorrow
Sorrow Tomorrow by Has A Shadow
Mexico natives 'Has A Shadow' released their sophomore album (their first via Fuzz Club Records) entitled 'Sorrow Tomorrow' back on January 18th 2017. The band create a brand of dark and ritualistic modern day psych gaze that heaves and undulates through swathes of unabashed reverberation and driving instrumentation tinged with menacing gothic tones. This album was so good we gave it 5/5 after just one listen!
Jellyskin - Jellyskin
jellyskin by jellyskin
Leeds based 'Jellyskin' correlated all of their previously released singles, added a splattering of newer material and packaged it all up on what was their very first self-titled physical release. Formed in 2016, 'Jellyskin' exploded onto the underground psych/gaze scene with four consecutive single releases, each one absolutely sublime. Unless you've been hiding under a rock over the past year you would have read about the band on Primal Music's web pages & listened to them over on Primal Radio daily; they are seriously that good. 'Jellyskin' create stunning musical soundscapes that gracefully meander through experimental shoegaze, dream pop, psych rock and it's many, many sub genres. The availability of Jellyskin's singles in one release is a big bonus and we had earmarked these guys very early on as contenders for our best of year end list. Highly recommended!
JuJu - Our Mother Was A Plant
Our Mother Was A Plant by JuJu
JuJu teamed up with one of the best underground independent record labels currently plying it's trade in this ever evolving scene, the immense 'Fuzz Club Records' and announced his sophomore release aptly titled 'Our Mother Was A Plant'. This time around Gioele Valenti dipped his sonic tendrils into a plethora of genres that includes afrobeat, krautrock, glam, post-punk, art rock, shoegaze & drone and it also featured guest appearances from 'Capra Informis', the masked djembe player of Swedish based psych aficionados 'Goat', making this album one of the most anticipated releases of 2017. It got it's full release back in September on 180g vinyl via www.fuzzclub.com and every single one of you needs this album in your collection. It is immense.
Tuath - Things I Don't Know
Things I don't know by Tuath
‘Tuath’ exploded onto the Irish underground scene back in March 2015 with their intensely addictive & deeply experimental debut EP ‘An Taobh Tuath(Ail)’ closely followed by their immense spaced out single ‘Amhairc Thart Ort Fein’ in September of the same year. Last year the band returned with a blistering four track EP entitled ‘Existence Is Futile’ packed full of experimental dreamscapes that skipped from serine psych-rock into blissfully dreamy shoegaze and on into expressive jazz fusion coupled with swirling hypnotically progressive rhythms and sullen space rock hues. Back in January the band created what is their most interesting release to date. 'Things I Don't Know' pulses through four tracks of soaring reverb laced progressions, deeply filled with haunting vocalisations that are collectively underpinned by heavier grunge filled moments, swirling instrumentation and massive swathes of melody. It cemented a place in our minds back then and was always going to appear on our end of year list.
Miniatures - Jessamines
Jessamines by Miniatures
The debut album from 'Miniatures' is a dense and lush affair. Its textures are tightly woven to create velvety soundscapes that envelope and endear. Formed in 2012 and currently based in Melbourne, the trio seem to be a further example of the strength of the Southern hemisphere's creative scene right now – especially when it comes to the dreamier side of the spectrum. The band worked with renowned Melbourne based producer Matthew Hosking to fine tweak the sounds on this album and the finished product is spectacular. 'Jessamines' floats and flickers. It had it's full release on the 6th October 2017 via the ever reliable Saint Marie Records.
Helicon - Helicon
Helicon by Helicon
When Glasgow based experimental psych outfit 'Helicon' announced their highly anticipated self-titled debut album we got really excited. With eight EP's under their belts, 'Helicon' have taken the live scene by storm, touring Europe and sharing the stage with some serious heavy hitters including Wooden Shjips, The Warlocks and Dead Skeletons. Helicon's sound is addictive, engagingly dynamic and at times all consuming or otherworldly with melodic eastern tinged psych, swirling drones, mantra like vocalisations and intricately intense guitar work that collectively merges into one almighty sonic attack. Their debut album is officially released on the 8th of December via those good folks over at fuzzclub.com and it is sublime!
Bolywool - From Void To Matter Vol.3
From Void to Matter Volume 3 by Bolywool
Hailing from the wind swept isle of Öland in Sweden, Calle Thor and Oskar Karlström aka 'Bolywool' have been fascinating us lot here at Primal Music for quite some time with their shimmering, cinematic, frost laden soundscapes filled to the brim with flourishes of atmospheric post-rock and scintillating shoegaze collectively underscored by stunning electronic progressions. They started out on a sonic journey back in May 2017 with the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter' via VÅRØ Records . Throughout the three EP's 'Bolywool' went from strength to strength culminating in what we think is their best release to date and a worthy entrant to our end of year tally. 'From Void To Matter Vol. 3' was officially released back on December 1st 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
Holy Monitor : holymonitor.bandcamp.com
Dead Gurus: wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com
Has A Shadow: fuzzclub.bandcamp.com
RELEASE: Like A Dog
RELEASE DATE: 15th November 2107
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Auckland based shoegaze/dream pop quartet 'Scarp' released their debut four track EP entitled 'Like A Dog' to the masses back on the 15th November 2017 via bandcamp. Their collective sound swirls effortlessly around some intense summery vibes as woozy shoegaze and beautifully entrancing dream pop hued vocal lines permeate noisy passages of layered reverberations. The band are made up of Pia - vocals/bass, Andrew - guitar, Adam - guitar & Howl - drums with EP available to buy/download right now via scarp.bandcamp.com
Like A Dog by Scarp
The EP opens with gentle guitar strums and a warbling lead line that intertwines with the plod of bass and steady percussion as those beautiful vocalisations wash over the listener. 'Youth Large, Size Small' builds slowly as it's instrumentation swoops through reverb hued atmospheric breaks underpinned with simple yet effective drum patterns and brilliantly executed chorus progressions. Up next, 'Air Max' shimmers on a wave of jangling guitars and intense reverb. Melancholic summer vibes explode into a cacophony of colour as this track unfurls it's sonic tendrils and instrumentally envelops another stunning vocal performance. It builds and builds gracefully into a wonderful crescendo driven dream pop standard echoing layers of subtle fuzz, captivating lead lines and rocking steadily on a pin point percussive pattern. 'Air Max' is simply beautiful and probably my favourite track on the entire release.
The slow moving 'Old Age' tip toes along it's steady drum pattern as it's bass line hums beneath a layer of hazy guitar drenched in swathes of reverb. Catchy hook laden chorus changes drag that vocal skywards, hoisting the repetitive verse progressions with it into new territory. 'Old Age' dips into the pop side of alternative rock at times and that's not a bad thing at all. It adds to the overall atmospherics of the piece and hit's home the tracks subject matter brilliantly. The EP closes out with 'Wasps', another slow moving slab of dreamy dream-gaze. Vocally sublime this track has a marvellous ambient hued break that builds brilliantly alongside pounding drums, throbbing bass and soaring lead guitar collectively guided by hazy rhythmic guitar progressions. It's a fantastic ending to a wonderful EP and I can't wait to hear what comes next for this band.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: Sun System
RELEASE: Strange Ways We Meet
RELEASE DATE: 1st December 2017
Arizona based 'Sun System' unleash their brilliant debut four track EP entitled 'Strange Ways We Meet' to the underground fraternity on December 1st 2017. With a sound that sits firmly in the alt-shoegaze stable 'Sun System' collectively inject shimmering melodic melancholy into every single track on this EP telling stories throughout and bringing the listener on a sonic journey of discovery with each passing instrumental progression. The band are made up of Cory – vocals/guitar, Nathan – guitar, Curt – bass, Christopher – keys and Lorenzo – drums. The EP gets it's full release on iTunes and Spotify from December 1st but you can check out some more of their singles right now via sunsystem.bandcamp.com
Shimmering guitar progressions glide and echo through layers of melodically hazy reverberation as ‘Smiles With No Teeth’ unwinds itself and shows us it’s inner workings. Throbbing bass frequencies ride a turbulent percussive pattern collectively leading a sublime vocal performance in and out of smooth verse transitions and noisy chorus parts with relative ease. This track builds, builds and builds into a cacophony of blissed out noise before cascading into a marvellously melodic finale. Up next, ‘Glimmer Man’ floats into the ether on swells of synth and jangling guitar that gracefully envelope another impressive vocal performance. Sun System’s shoegaze tendencies are laid bare for all to hear on this track as it rises and falls through stages of impeccable songwriting filled with effervescent layers of addictive noise.
The EP’s penultimate piece is a melodic, slow moving slice of sonic melancholy. ‘Alone Together’ is beautifully intense and it meanders through yearning and thought provoking verse progressions, pulling the listener with it as it tumbles into chorus parts filled with soaring tumults of glittering noise. It’s a wonderful track and possibly my favourite on the entire release. ‘Strange Ways We Meet’ closes out with ‘Scooter (feat. Travis Williams)’ and we’re pulled into an opening salvo of lo-fi guitars and and steady drum patterns. It’s not long before this track explodes into a kaleidoscope of noise, calming down at times to allow us catch little snippets of songwriting brilliance. There’s also a subtle dream-pop hue emanating from it that is rather interesting but for the most part instrumentally it skirts close to alternative or post-rock. All in all it’s this EP has an interesting mix of sounds and some brilliant passages of songwriting all underscored with some fantastic production values. It will be interesting to hear what comes next from ‘Sun System’.
ARTIST: The Veldt
RELEASE: Thanks To The Moth And Areanna Rose
RELEASE DATE: 3rd November 2017
RECORD COMPANY: sonaBLAST! Records
Of the past while in modern music, I can think of no other band like 'The Veldt'. They are (as they like to say) virtually unclassifiable and against the practice of being pigeon holed or tied to a particular scene; against conformity and against rules and regulations. They are also (in my humble opinion) possibly the most underrated band in past memory of alternative music in America. Their songs are beautiful yet nostalgic, comforting yet retrospective; simple yet genius. They originated years ago, their history forming around the musicality of twin brothers Daniel and Danny Chavis who single handedly punched through the burgeoning dream pop scene of Chapel Hill in the 90's and presented themselves as one of the most original bands to come from the underground scene in the USA. Over the years they were dropped and picked up by a succession of labels, toured internationally with some of the biggest names in the world and released a string of amazingly beautiful albums, one of which, 'Afrodesiac', I personally regard as one of the greatest albums of the 90's. Here then, years after a stint under the Apollo Heights moniker and following up last years dreamy-trap influenced The Drake Equation, is a new EP by 'The Veldt' entitled 'Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose': a collection of older tracks reanimated and re-recorded from the bands past catalogue. And while generally a re-visit to the past can lead to awkward and somewhat ‘has-been’ attitudes, 'Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose' is the exact opposite. It stands as a dreamy reminder of how important the band has and continues to be. The EP had it's full release back on the 3rd November 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via theveldtmusic.bandcamp.com
Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose by The Veldt
The EP opens with one of the greatest songs the band have ever written in their entire career: ‘The Colour of Love is Blue’. If you ever get the opportunity to listen to 1994's 'Afrodesiac' you will notice a deep and immersive theme of nostalgia running through the music, a friend of mine coined the term (when listening to their magnum opus ‘Heather’) ‘downtown 90’s New York dreaming music’; this theme continues strongly on ‘The Colour of Love is Blue’. Rehashed, the song now features a slower and steadier drum beat, coloured and contextualised neatly with hummingly shoegaze-echoed guitar tones and an even higher vocal performance by Daniel Chavis. This restrung version maintains the same magic of the original, while also utilizing a different mood via the technical wizardry of programmer/bass player Hayato Nakao… The breathy, emotive pipes of Chavis proclaiming the words ‘we’ll be happy in the end’ is enough to send chills down your spine. ‘Black and Blue’ follows with a much noiser and alt-rock base: the song reflects a claustrophobic yet mediative mood that echoes on its brilliant chorus. The guitar rises to the top of the mix, presenting impressive playing and musical texture by Danny Chavis, backed by the somewhat simple but effective thump of the drums.
‘Fit to be Tied’ harkens back to a similar mood that could be found on some of the Apollo Heights releases: atmospheric and the slow build of the instrumentation paint a beautifully dream-pop cencric picture. This track most predominately captures the bands new found practice of mixing technological-based production with the more traditional method of musical texturing. Often ignored in the music of both The Veldt and Apollo Heights are the lyrics, which when studied on ‘Fit to be Tied’ make one wonder why this is the case… The chorus, which Chavis declares with an original mix of power and contemplation, adds another level of depth to the music again. ‘Camus’ turns down the lights even more so, sounding like its original inception dipped in neon lighting: the trap-beats that ran rampart on The Drake Equation dance around in a pan-motion at the back of the music. Where the other tracks on this EP could be labelled somewhere between soul, shoegaze and dream pop, ‘Camus’ stands almost as a down tempo funk song, melding elements of R’n’B with ethereal wave-sounding guitars. If anything, ‘Camus’ perfectly captures a band in the midst of wearing their influecnes (positively) on their sleeve. ‘Dakini’ dives deep into the bands interest in hip-hop, the backing drums and programming bounce boomstatically like the backing to an East Coast hip hop mixtape. The vocals, which dance around in the backing of the instrumentation, mix playfully with the wizzes and the bangs of the various sample, keyboard, feedback sounds through the mix. ‘I Like the Way You Talk’ is a skeletal yet bouncily dreamy take that revisits the bands noisegaze aesthetics with a wall-of-sound approach to the backing of the music. The breathy and somewhat relaxing vocals and drum balance that snakes through the verse is also a refreshing contrast to the aforementioned noise and feedback. A bizarre and off-kilter remix of ‘Dakini’ appears to mix things up, which sounds somewhat out of place with the other songs on the EP…. But it remains all the while enjoyable.
Back in the day, a key player in the foundational structure of 'The Veldt' both musically and stylistically was one of their heroes and generally critically acclaimed producer and musician Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)… Here on this EP his production on the opening couple of tracks are noticeably excellent and should be praised. The other tracks also retain a fantastic open air feeling of soaring, thanks to production from 'The Veldt' themselves. Although an EP of past tracks rediscovered could have come together in an awkward fashion, the EP is instead a happy and rewarding revisit into the past. I personally am thankful that songs like ‘The Colour of Love’ and ‘Camus’, which are extremely difficult to find (even in the YouTube age), have been reanimated, re-recorded and re-released to showcase how genius they truly are. Altogether I can comfortably say that 'Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose' is a gratifying and refreshing reminder; its true appeal is in the fact that it combines the past with The Veldt's new and re-stylised approach to writing music. It is a sign that one of the worlds most interesting and most engaging bands is still at it, and that the music they continue to create is as rewarding as ever. All I can hope for now is that the rest of the world turns their head and hears this band, hears their beauty, hears their creativity and most importantly, hears their terrifically brilliant sound.
ARTIST: The Virgance
RELEASE: Worship The Moon
RELEASE DATE: 31st October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: El Vals del Conejo
Stepping away from a tried and trusted sonic format in the name of experimentation is a tricky and sometimes perilous undertaking. Continued advancements in music recording technology feed the mind of the modern musician and the lure for change is a relentless beast regardless of the all encompassing perils and pitfalls that surround a massive change in any artists collective sound. Taking all of that into consideration, I've just reviewed the latest release entitled 'Worship The Moon' from UK based 'The Virgance' and it marks a significant shift in direction in terms of composition, arrangement and incredibly instrumentation thus turning this artists recognised sound on it's head and dumping it firmly in the 'Experimental' category of music for me. 'The Virgance' is the solo project of Nathan Smith, previously of seminal 90's band Ripley & 00's electro noise merchants 'Loveless'. 'Worship The Moon' is his forth album to be released on the brilliant independent net label 'El Vals del Conejo' and it follow's on from both of his 2015 release's, the immense 'Hiko Shrine' and 'Paradigm 3' and his 2014 debut 'Lost Continent'. The album was released on October 31st 2017 and is available to buy/download via thevirgance.bandcamp.com
Worship The Moon by The Virgance
In a cascade of synth and sequenced electronics the opening salvos of ‘Country Of The Past’ begin bombarding the senses with deep sonic vibrations. Dark malevolent bass frequencies merge effortlessly with soaring lines of keyboard, deftly riding wave after wave of entrancing melody and underscored at times with sparse percussion or the occasional drum fill. What is evident from the off is that this is a total step away from what we usually expect from ‘The Virgance’. Yes the wide scoped lunar themed soundscapes are there but usually by now they are awash with layers of hazy guitar and oodles of reverb. Instead these usually addictive sounds have been substituted with swathes of atmospheric synth and their well crafted although progressively electronic accompaniments. It’s almost as if Nathan has channelled the inner mind of Greek composer Vangelis or German based sonic genius Hans Zimmer. Not that I’m complaining at all, in fact, it’s a totally refreshing sound, one that I can personally relate to and a credit to his song writing and production skills. Up next, the deeply experimental but totally entrancing ‘Terrorforming’ floats into the ether on a wave of promulgating synth and warbling keyboard stabs. Ethereal voices glide and shimmer on beautiful pads of Jazz orientated percussion as the listener is immersed in a kaleidoscope of sonic vibrations and massive swathes of intense melancholic atmosphere. ‘Terrorforming’ is absorbingly immense and possibly my favourite track on the entire release.
‘Curious Case’ swirls into audible range caught in the wurlitzing swells of organ with glitchy but explosive drum patterns underfoot. Uplifting instrumental progressions follow a lysergic cycle of circus chic, adding a malevolent theme to proceedings as the collective instrumentation meanders and undulates along a rickety pre-ordained course. It’s impressive but a tad boring after a while and I’m wondering when Harrison Ford will appear with a speaking part. There’s an ambient hue wafting into the ether as the ten minute long ‘Dream Feed’ does exactly as it says on the tin. Twinkling keys and sampled bird calls add atmosphere as ‘The Virgance’ take an experimental sojourn away from their usual cinematic themed fair and drop headlong into an acid blotched world of psychedelic abandonment. It’s all too much for me I’m afraid as it gets a bit freaky half way through, morphing itself into mix match collection of breakbeats, eastern esoteric percussion and swirling reverberations.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Lunar Power’ pulses into life harassed by a cyclonic instrumental drone and soaring swells of atmospheric synth. They collectively rise and fall through layers of reverb and delayed fluctuations, leaving sonic wakes in their path that plough deep dark furrows into the psyche before cascading into almost ethereal like instrumental flourishes. This is encroaching into sci-fi movie soundtrack territory now and it’s not long before the final piece of the puzzle falls into place with the arrival of the closing track aptly named ‘Out Of The Woods’. This track is deeply experimental, a bit too much some might say, and it swerves through passages of modern psych and ambient electronica on a whim with massive walls of reverb, hazy guitars and swooning synths all topped off with some impressive production. It’s a fitting end to what is at times a very confusing album and I don’t mean that in a bad way. ‘Worship the Moon’ has some fascinating moments throughout but is at times way too experimental for my tastes and it overburdens itself with it’s movie soundtrack leanings that can also get a tad monotonous after a while. There are redeeming features throughout with the songwriting, sonic sculpturing and production deserved of serious plaudits. I do however recommend that you listen to it via headphones at first for that all encompassing sonic thrill ride.