ARTIST: E Gone
RELEASE: Brilliant Apparatus
RELEASE DATE: 24th November
RECORD COMPANY: Self Released
'Brilliant Apparatus' is the latest five track release from the immense Swedish based experimental psych aficionado 'E Gone' aka Daniel Westerlund. 'E Gone' has been wowing us lot here at Primal Music for some time with the way he melds together various musical stylings including electronica, psych, post rock, oriental, dub, raga, ambient and folk to create a stunning cacophony of mesmerising soundscapes that float and permeate layers of impressive sonic production with relative ease. 'Brilliant Apparatus' is self-released and it follows on from Februarys full length LP 'The Third Is A Mountain Which Holds A Dagger'. It's available to buy/download right now via egone.bandcamp.com
Brilliant Apparatus EP by E GONE
In a fizzing haze of twinkling drones and shimmering electronics 'Ectoplasm', the EP's opening salvo ignites and burns sporadically for a short time spilling ambient clouds of reverberating frequencies out into the ether before announcing 'Liber Null Tango', an ambient infused dub electro outing doused in melody and accompanied by deep resonating bass notes that coalesce brilliantly with sequenced synth lines and the constant pitter patter of hi-hats. Sequenced drums pound the senses pulling into the mix cascading synth and low frequency atmospheric drones that sit just below the mix adding weight and depth to the piece. Up next, 'Brilliant Apparatus' bullies its way into audible range bouncing alongside sampled vocalisations and deeply resonating synth lines. Sequenced percussion travels along in breakbeat style dragging angry electronics and film soundtrack accompaniments with it as it meanders brilliantly through ambient breaks, huge sonic builds with screaming crescendos filled with maliciously dark electronics. 'Brilliant Apparatus' is an absolutely fantastic track and possibly my favourite on the entire release.
'Hökarängen' the EP's penultimate piece opens with plinking synth riding dub reggae stylings albeit in an electronic fashion. Off kilter percussion concentrates the sound as panned instrumentation ebbs and flows underneath, jumping in and out of ambient tinged breaks filled with guitar stabs and lines of undulating lead that intertwines effortlessly with layers of synth, sequenced electronics and the heady pull of reverberation. The 'Brilliant Apparatus' EP closes out with 'The Autumn Equinox of 1993'. Floating instrumental drones glimmer and dance on top of pulsating electronics and celestial reverberations as intense melodic psychedelia greets this listener, rising and falling brilliantly through magnificent production and stunning organ swells as sporadic percussive hits permeate the ether from far below the mix. It's a fascinating ending to what is an interesting EP.
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: Sun System
RELEASE: Strange Ways We Meet
RELEASE DATE: 1st December 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
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’.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: The Cabin Fever
RELEASE: Exercise The Demon
RELEASE DATE: 23rd January 2018
Los Angeles based experimental dark gazing trio ‘The Cabin Fever’ have just announced their brand new sophomore release brilliantly titled 'Exercise The Demon'. This brand new eight track EP gets it's full release on January 23rd 2018 and it follows on from their 2016 debut album ‘Enjoy Yourself’. The band are made up of Sean Moriarty (vocals/guitar), Joel Bedolla (guitar) and Tripp Beam (drums) and 'Exercise The Demon' is available to pre-order right now via thecabinfever.bandcamp.com
Exercise the demon EP by The Cabin Fever
The tumble of slow paced percussion announces the arrival of track one ‘B-L-S-H’ and it’s soon accompanied by the melodic pull of heady bass frequencies and fuzzy guitar squall. There’s a deeply melancholic vibe coursing through the The Cabin Fever’s overall sound that’s inherently captivating and the arrival of those sublime vocalisations adds weight to that statement. They instantly suck you in and initiate a snapshot of modern times and the many pit-falls that lie beneath the blank facade of everyday life. They float effortlessly in amongst melody strewn lanes filled with catchy chord changes, undulating lead lines and the sweet pull of violin. An impressive opening salvo. Up next, ‘Simon Says’ shimmers on a trembling wave of tambourine and almost droning instrumentation that rises and falls through sullen verse parts that envelope another great vocal track and build brilliantly into driving chorus progressions filled with soaring lead lines and busy percussion.
‘Trucrime’ chugs into existence strapped to a crawling guitar progression and a slow processional snare hit that ricochets atop a pinging delay. It’s vocal track meanders brilliantly through 80’s themed synth lines and layers of hazy reverberation, cruising through catchy hook laden highs and dipping below the ether into addictively dark post-shoegaze atmospherics. ‘His People’ pulses and weaves a repetitive sonic web filled with off beat drum patterns and crawling guitar progressions underpinned with streamlined synth and layered production theatrics whilst ‘Exercise The Demon’ is dark and atmospheric. It moves extremely slow attached to the pull of intense guitars, it’s underlying strings and the melancholic tone of it’s lead vocals that keep the listener focusing intently on their every move. This track builds brilliantly. In fact, it has a subtle movie soundtrack quality and introduces it’s layered instrumentation as each verse progression passes adding colour when needed and slowing down at times to highlight lyrical narrative.
The Cabin Fever included a fantastic bonus track on this EP entitled ‘Tony’s Song’ that swirls into audible range on 60’s sci-fi synth swells and plodding bass progressions riding an almost metronomic percussive pattern. It explodes into a melting pot of sounds including resolute hand claps, cascading synth, hazy shoegaze hued layers of resonating guitars and the outright addictiveness of those sublime vocalisations. The EP closes out with two alternate mixes of both ‘B-L-S-H’ and ‘Exercise The Demon’. If that kind of thing floats your boat then these are for you. However if like me you don’t see the point in including them, then the EP finished up on that brilliant bonus track. All being said, ‘Exercise The Demon’ is an impressive collection of tracks loaded with layers of atmosphere and impressive melancholic abandonment.
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.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: Curelight Wounds
RELEASE: Constant Mind
RELEASE DATE: 20th November 2017
Brooklyn based noise makers 'Curelight Wounds' have returned with their highly anticipated follow up to their impressive 2016 four track EP release 'Wearing The Strings'. This new EP is the bands seventh release to date and is aptly titled 'Constant Mind'. It's as melodically fuzzy as it's predecessors and pulls with it many influencial genres of music from noisy shoegaze to post-punk, noise-rock to lo-fi. 'Constant Mind' gets it's full release on the 20th November 2017 and will be available to buy/download via curelightwounds.bandcamp.com from that date.
In a broiling undercurrent of senses pummelling instrumentation ‘Curelight Wounds’ unleash a sonic call to arms in the guise of ‘Sew It Back’, the opening salvo on this impressive collection of tracks and the EP’s lead single. Bass lines throb deliciously with post-punk abandon as they stick fast to a busy tambourine led percussive pattern and dodge the searing whip of those ever present lead guitars. It’s accompanying vocal lines quiver menacingly as they pulse through layers of reverb, brandishing an addictive 90’s alternative edginess that is very difficult to ignore. Up next, ‘Hot House’ is a swirling sonic behemoth that starts slow with those woozy whammy bar guitar theatrics before building progressively into a throbbing, bass heavy beast steeped in repetitiveness, screaming guitars and monotone vocalisations. It’s a sublime track and highlights what seems to me to be ‘Curelight Wounds’ perfecting the marvellous art of the ‘no nonsense’ two minute track that hits the nail on it's proverbial head.
The EP’s penultimate piece entitled ‘Distant Song’ shivers on a melody infused bass signature used primarily to instil a calmness as all around it explodes into a cacophony of noise. Guitar lines envelope nearly everything as a steady drum beat keeps meticulous time allowing the vocal lines to ride the tempo sitting comfortably in amongst the sonic melee. The ‘Constant Mind’ EP closes out with ‘Hard Sand’, a pulsating monster musically reminiscent of early ‘Pavement’ or even ‘The Fall’ with it’s driving bass signature, skittish percussion and those wailing guitars. It's a brilliant piece of music that ticks every sonic box as far as I'm concerned - fuzz, noise, throbbing melodic bass and tons of reverb. An absolutely brilliant end to thoroughly enjoyable EP.
RELEASE DATE: 10th November 2017
Barcelona based neo-psych duo 'Telescope' unleashed their debut self-titled three track EP to the masses back on November 10th 2017. With a sound reminiscent of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dungen and Tame Impala this sweet little release caught our attention instantly. The band are made up of Esteban Garós & Luis Pomés and you can buy/download this impressive release right now via telescopebcn.bandcamp.com
Telescope by Telescope
The EP opens up swirling in muggy reverberating haze. Magically melodic sound waves intertwine with a rambling vocal performance as 'With Your Truth' unfurls it's sonic tendrils and explodes into a cacophony of colourful frequencies. Plodding bass lines meander and undulate brilliantly under busy percussion as catchy hook laden chord changes and the pull of fuzz laden guitars lead us into whirring, looping lead lines and sublime passages of neo-psychedelia. Up next, 'Adrift' bounced into the ether on a melodic bass signature as tambourine hits and swirling organ swells announce the arrival of a catchy lead guitar line and reverb laden vocalisations. It's chorus parts are utterly addictive and they show off the songwriting prowess that this duo possess. There's also a fantastic modern psych feel to this track although it does have passages of 60's psych pop attached to it's kaleidoscopic vibrations.
The EP closes out with 'Not Your Game', a tumbling shimmering behemoth that rumbles through a melody strewn landscape filled with addictive bass fills, explosive percussion and brilliantly executed instrumentation. Leads guitars lick and harass impressive vocalisations before that synth line permeates the ether and instantly adds golden atmosphere to proceedings. A masterful ending to brilliantly executed EP.
RELEASE: Without EP
RELEASE DATE: 28th September 2017
Solip's 'Without' EP is a brutal beast of doom-laden gaze. It's a powerful thing, dark and oppressive. Self-released, it follows on from 2016's 2 track 'Dissociation' and takes a similarly dim view of life, the universe and everything. The EP was released back on the 28th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via solip.bandcamp.com
Without by Solip
Adaptation's deliberate droning sets the scene for a record with very little light. The double-time drumming is completely suffocating and massively impressive. 'Held In Place' is like a shuddering death march. It's so slow and crushingly heavy at first. The fear just seeps out of 'The Burning Car'. It's unsettling opening notes explode into a chorus of abrasive guitar sounds, and it feels like being buried alive with those pummelling drums, driving us deeper down. The EP closes with 'No Gomorrah', with its enveloping walls of wild guitar squall. And those drums, pounding the nails into all our coffins.
Hailing from Oakland, California, the four piece have created a record with the heft and gravity required for late 2017, when all seems pretty much lost. Embrace the dark, it's all we have.
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
ARTIST: Deer Park Ranger
RELEASE DATE: 17th august 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fluttery Records
'Moderation' is the second EP by Oakland based post-rock/ambient project 'Deer Park Ranger'. It’s a neat little release that puts aside assumption and pretentious musicology while still being as interesting as a full length album. It's a warm and fuzzy six track that’s as enjoyable as it is simple, smart as it is showy. Across the track listing 'Deer Park Ranger' mixes a Radiohead-esque approach to electronic instrumentation and programming, while underpinning the sound with post-rock progressions that flesh the whole thing out in an audibly enjoyable way. While some may pertain it to be ‘slight’ or simply background music, I feel a comfort in 'Moderation' that seems to be somewhat absent from much music that comes around under the banner of post-rock… and it is both refreshing and absorbing for just those reasons. The album was officially released back on August 17th 2017 via the good people over at Fluttery Records and it is available to buy/download right now from both fluttery records.com and deer-park-ranger.bandcamp.com respectively.
Moderation by Deer Park Ranger
'Moderation' begins with ‘Shipwreck’ and a bellowing, rumbling wall-of-sound style strum that slowly introduces background guitar melding. Where many of the other songs on Moderation project a happier, more enjoyable and perhaps bright-minimalist sound, ‘Shipwreck’ opens things in a much more downtrodden way. Beautiful piano guides the song into its second half, while the beat of a drum and what sounds to be a synth play calmly in the background. This is melodic ambient music at its best. ‘Another World, Another Time’ delves more cinematically, albeit with the same stripped back sounds of ‘Shipwreck’. The inclusion of what sounds to be a layer of brass instrumentation also adds a deeper dimension to the sound and song as a whole: an EP highlight. Even the small interlude ‘Old City’ is an impressively simplistic track in terms of the EP, and functions as a well rounded song despite its length and standing on the EP.
‘Time And Distance’ is perhaps the most post-rock that Deer Park Ranger goes: the opening threads picking lines of guitar together to make fantastic soundscapes and ambient textures. The eventual guitar-based tricks that Deer Park Ranger use to build and conjure mood also come across beautifully, especially when contrasted with the backing piano. A shorter song (around the same length as ‘Old City’) utilizes a post-punk drum beat, skeletal but well layered guitars and piano to create another fantastic track that builds up before pandering off slowly and carefully. In terms of beauty: through texturing, colour and layers, there is no greater track on 'Moderation' than ‘Seeing All The Shelves’: it’s a crescendo of instruments and soundscapes into a mesmerizingly mini-epic sound. Again, the greatest element of this sound is the tinkering piano that guides along the other instruments with power and subtletly that makes it less of a slog than you’re average prog-rock song.
Usually when somebody releases a post-rock or progressive rock album, we all spend our time listening and then stepping back, having had enough of one giant slog through sound as it was. Funnily enough, I feel like when I finished listening to 'Moderation' that I only wanted more. Its been a while since I’ve listened to something so soothing yet simple, so smart yet so stripped back, and so comforting while being slightly challenging. The production, much like the mixing, is of a top quality standard and it a brilliant and relaxing accompaniment to the flow of the sound.
RELEASE: From Void To Matter Volume 2
RELEASE DATE: 29th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: VÅRØ Records
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. Their collective sound has the ability to bring listeners on a melancholic journey into their world, a world that twists and turns through epic snapshots of life, death and an inherent love for their homeland. Back in May 2017 the band released the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter' via VÅRØ Records and now they have returned with their second thrilling instalment, boldly continuing on a journey of sonic enlightenment and once again blowing our minds. 'From Void To Matter Volume 2' was released back on the 29th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
From Void to Matter Volume 2 by Bolywool
The soft thud of sequenced percussion accompanied by pulsing bass frequencies and cascading synth lines permeate the ether as ‘The Dial (Revisited)’ glides into audible range punctuated by reverb laden guitars and impressive production values. Otherworldly vocalisations add to the seemingly peaceful atmospheric hubris that tumbles wilfully throughout the piece but that ethereal feeling is short lived as we’re pushed headlong into a raging whirlwind of sound that surrounds an immense chorus progression that seems to build and build brilliantly into a undulating sonic behemoth. ‘Bolywool’ continuously amaze me. They are experts at changing the mood of a track at will and it’s well documented here as the track bounces quickly from a melancholic fuelled slice of atmospheric post-rock into a lurching lysergic tinged monster, amalgamating serene vocalisations with churning percussion, fuzzed out guitars and swirling lead lines to create something altogether magical. Not only is ‘The Dial(Revisited)’ my favourite track on this release but it’s possibly Bolywool’s best track to date and it ranks as one of my favourite tracks of this year by far.
Up next, ‘Mirror Sky’ rumbles on a repetitive back beat as reverb laced guitars tremble and shimmer through icy atmospherics, the hum of bass and sullen synth swells. Stunning vocals float effortlessly atop of the collective instrumentation guiding the listener into a deeply atmospheric break filled with blissed out sonic reflections and the collective twinkle of instrumentation before exploding into a huge wall of hazy guitars and that soaring maleficent howl. The EP closes out with ‘Blues For Stornoway (Pts 1,2,3 & 4) and if ever a piece of music deserved to appear on a movie soundtrack it has to be this track. Beautifully melancholic opening vibes meander and intertwine with delay and reverb, enveloping themselves around a ghostly vocal line and the woozy flourishes of synth and rumbling percussion. It loops and arcs through shimmering electronics and wavering instrumental progressions before opening up into an almost industrial feel, metronomic in it’s tempo but majestic in it’s approach before finishing up caught in a brilliant atmospheric cloud of samples and synth that rise and fall into it’s stunning finale. A blistering end to another marvellous collection of tracks.
ARTIST: Pastel Coast
RELEASE: Vague Noire
RELEASE DATE: 9th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Collective Noord Sfeer Records
Just only last year I began my stint with the ever-prestigious Primal Music blog, and with that stint begun revelling in the unearthing of many a brilliant band, musician, artist and producer. There is nothing more satisfying than receiving a CD from France, a thank you from the US or a recommendation from Brazil and announcing to your friends a list of reasons why they should listen to them, enjoy them and soak them up. At the end of last year, amongst the revelling and soaking process, I decided to construct a rough ‘Releases of the Year’ list and saw in my rear view mirror a grand appreciation and acclaim for two releases in particular. One was a return from the murky depths of the past by one of the most underrated bands in the history of popular music; US shoegaze/noise veterans 'The Veldt' appeared and drowned out their critics with a mesmerizingly beautiful five track EP that balanced shoegaze, trap music and noise pop with the contextual hymns of their past. The other release could not have been more different: from France I heard the lush, beautiful and unique sounds of 'Pastel Coast', a one man project that combined nostalgic overtures and dreamy tones with the guitar and synth lead production of indie pop. The EP, entitled 'Sense', was a melding of emotive guitar music and the kind of sun-drenched downtrodden attitudes of an evening spent on dirty beaches that made it so breathtakingly beautiful I could not stop talking to it and listening enough. So, when I heard that 'Pastel Coast' was to release a new EP, entitled 'Vague Noire', I turned my ears on again and awaited an opportunity to hear one of the worlds most interesting non-professional artists paint pictures with sounds, words and textures all over again. 'Vague Noire' was released back on the 9th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via pastelcoast.bandcamp.com
Vague Noire by Pastel Coast
‘Roses’ opens the EP, a guitar tinkering based track backed by a drum machine style beat. The vocals are deeper, perhaps a shade darker in texture than on 'Sense', but the music retains the playfully pop-infused jangle, interspersed with fantastic production and guitar tricks. Underneath the initial mix of guitars, bass and drums lies a neat soundscape-styled synth track that adds a more dreamy quality to the song. After the three minute mark 'Pastel Coast' showcases his fantastic guitar tricks with an intricate and ridiculously rewarding outro for the listener. ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ follows with a similar musical structure: bouncing drums guide the guitars and bass through the outskirts of the song. However on ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ the riffs and vocals take a more concentrated stance, sounding deeper and darker than on the EPs opening track. The fantastic guitar-orientated instrumental passages of ‘Roses’ appears even more prominently on ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ especially on the second half of the track, making the song an easy EP highlight.
The lighthearted pop of ‘Malo Les Bains’ reaches an almost danceable level of bounce and tempo. The alluring French vocal offers a fantastically layered sketch of driving in the hills of ones hometown or dancing with friends long after the bar has closed: it is with these simple tricks that songs like ‘Malo Les Bains’ connect and resonate with the listener on a level of pure enjoyment and admiration. ‘Araginee’ sounds like it was a left over from 'Sense', its more reverb-centric guitar lead and keyboard backed sound allows it too come off (in a positive way) as like a sort of philosophised dance club track. Still in the backbone of the song (much like the others) is the core elements of indie pop music that make the song appear less experimental and, perhaps, more approachable as such. The title track appears as a cross between the dreamy, pop infused songs that have appeared throughout Vague Noire, and a more post-punk styled sound. While still light hearted, its chorus alters the landscape; carving out a more dark but entrancingly beautiful sound: another EP highlight.
Although a review of 'Vague Noire' is not an opportunity to balance its credibility upon a comparison between itself and 'Sense', it is important to note the transitions and influence that 'Pastel Coast' evokes from one to another. I’ll preface my thoughts on 'Vague Noire' by openly stating that I believe 'Sense' is a better EP, a fact that I thought would be integral to my opinions. Where 'Sense' relied heavily on thematic musical elements of what most would consider dream-pop and shoegaze music, 'Vague Noire' instead sees 'Pastel Coast' attend to a more pop influenced, indie rock type sound… And that is exactly wherein its brilliance lies. You see, its easy to ride off 'Vague Noire' as simply a bunch of indie pop songs that all retain a similar drum beat, but it is within each song that the true genius of 'Pastel Coast' shines. These tracks, gathered together with a unity of similar sounds and tones, are ridiculously well constructed indie pop songs: between the evidently neat guitar playing all the way to the background ambience, each song is a well built and oiled machine. Together, these tracks provide nothing but pure entertainment, joy and acclaim. Another thing: I can’t speak French (in fact I remember I spent all of my high school mandatory French lessons listening to music) so when you listen to an EP where the gentleman singing only does so in French, and it conjures up images, memories and dreams… Then there is something wholly fantastic and intelligent going on. Much like on 'Sense', 'Pastel Coasts' greatest connection with the listener is through the nostalgia-laced visions of parties, beaches and empty dance halls, except this time it is done less contemplatively and more subtle and somewhat initially appealing for some listeners. 'Vague Noire’s' beauty and love stands out against so much damn mediocrity that listening to it was like some kind of cleansing relief… An original and enjoyable piece of art, achieved through stellar production, intricate mixing and beautiful sound.