It's that time of the year again when us music bloggers dip into the heap of music submissions we've received just to try and compile some sort of 'Best Of' list. This year has been especially hard as there have been so many immense releases by some seriously good worldwide artists who are either self-releasing out of a bedroom or signed to small independent record labels, that I didn't want to leave any of them out. It's a tough decision trying to whittle them down to a list of just 5 or 10 so I went all out and decided to settle on 20 releases. These various albums & ep's by underground artists based all around the globe have been sent into the Primal Music blog and thus we have gone on to review them, so unfortunately there's nobody out side of our submissions inbox on the list this year I'm afraid. I've also decided not to ask the other writers or Dj's to give me their favourites as it took way too long so the following 20 releases are my choices alone. I've reviewed most of them, took them apart, fantasised about them, listened to them repeatedly and even today they still blow me away.
As I've already alluded to, we've been snowed under with submissions this year and as a result we've had to get very selective with our reviewing process and our best of 2016 year end list will reflect that fact. We don't review reformed bands or artists signed to major labels so you wont read about them here. This is all about the underground psych, shoegaze, ethereal dream-pop and post-punk scene's. As usual, I'd like to thank every one of you readers, writers, commentators, labels, artists and PR companies who have sent us music, liked & shared our reviews and generally supported us 110%. Without you guys & gals I would have given up months ago. I have some big plans for 2017 with some new developments happening right now behind the scenes. I'm very excited to bring them to you as 2017 progresses.
Del Chaney - Primal Music - December 2016
PRIMAL MUSIC's TOP 20 RELEASES OF 2016:
(in no particular order)
JuJu - JuJu (Sunrise Ocean Bender Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-juju-juju-sunrise-ocean-bender-records/
My Invisible Friend - S/T (Fuzz Club Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/music/ep-review-my-invisible-friend-st/
Stella Diana - Nitocris (Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-stella-diana-nitocris/
RevRevRev - Des Fleurs Magiques Bourdonnaient (Northern Light Records/Custom Made Records/Kinotone Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-revrevrev-des-fleurs-magiques-bourdonnaient/
Muertos - EP 1 (Wrong Way Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/ep-review/ep-review-muertos-ep-1-wrong-way-records/
Magic Shoppe - Interstellar Car Crash (Optical Sounds) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/ep-review-magic-shoppe-interstellar-car-crash/
Dead Rabbits - Everything Is A Lie (Fuzz Club Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/music/album-review-dead-rabbits-everything-is-a-lie-fuzz-club-records/
Is Bliss- Velvet Dreams (Club AC30) - http://primalmusicblog.com/ep-review/ep-review-bliss-velvet-dreams/
In Violet - Amber (Bottle Imp Productions) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-violet-amber/
Ghost Box Orchestra - High Plaine (Evil Hoodoo Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-ghost-box-orchestra-high-plaine/
Rancho Relaxo - White Light Fever (Wrong Way Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-rancho-relaxo-white-line-fever/
LSD And The Search For God - Heaven Is A Place (Deep Space Recordings) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-lsd-search-god-heaven-place/
Follow The Sea - Blue Joy (Häxrummet Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-follow-sea-blue-joy/
Ulrika Spacek - The Album Paranoia (Tough Love/ LEFSE Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-ulrika-spacek-album-paranoia/
LEAF - Nothing Seems Real (Unsigned) - http://primalmusicblog.com/ep-review/ep-review-leaf-nothing-seems-real/
Travelling Wave - Simoom (Unsigned) - http://primalmusicblog.com/ep-review/ep-review-travelling-wave-simoom/
Mumrunner - Gentle Slopes (Wolves And Vibrancy Records/Soliti Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/ep-review-mumrunner-gentle-slopes/
Living Hour - Living Hour (LEFSE Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-living-hour-living-hour/
The Cult Of Dom Keller - Goodbye To The Light (Fuzz Club Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-cult-dom-keller-goodbye-light-fuzz-club-records/
Bolywool - Hymnals And Bombs (Novoton Records) - http://primalmusicblog.com/album-review/album-review-bolywool-hymnals-bombs/
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: Ulrika Spacek
RELEASE: The Album Paranoia
RELEASE DATE: 5th February 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Tough Love / Lefse Records
Formed in Berlin but now residing in London, Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams aka ‘Ulrika Spacek’ began their tentative first steps in what would be a two year journey to finish their debut album entitled ‘The Album Paranoia’ back in 2014. Employing the help of three skilled musicians & friends they embarked on sonic journey that would reap them immense rewards. With a sound that swerves between alt-rock & krautrock whilst taking a trip through downright fuzzed up lo-fi brilliance, ‘Ulrika Spacek’ create hazy impressive soundscapes that are sonically worthy of your ears. ‘The Album Paranoia’ was officially released via ‘Tough Love Records (EU) & LEFSE Records (USA) back on the 5th February 2016.
The Album Paranoia by Ulrika Spacek
The album opens up with ‘I Don’t Know’, a fuzzy swirling triumphant track that loops & arcs through addictive reverberating guitars intertwined with glorious psych tinged effects and a steadying drum progression that holds that stunning vocal aloft like a king sitting atop a mountain of golden sound. Track two, ‘Porcelain’ oozes alt-rock splendour with whirling repetitive guitars and another impressive vocal performance. ‘Circa 1954’ lives in a beautiful shimmering experimental ambient world while ‘Strawberry Glue’ jangles & struts like a sonic peacock before opening up into a glorious fuzzy alternative masterpiece. Track five, ‘Beta Male’ stands up there with some of the great modern day psych tracks. Reminiscent at times of ‘Fuzz Club Records’ own ‘Throw Down Bones’ with its hypnotic swirling maelstrom of sound that builds into a fuzzy multifaceted sonic whirlwind. ‘Beta Male’ is probably my favourite track on this entire release. Very cool! Up next,‘NK’ is a slow but sludgy psych tinged monster with a lazy ‘Sub Pop’ styled effected vocal line and a very impressive break that builds & builds forever.
We’re back on a subtle alt-rock vibe with ‘Ultra-Vivid’. This track is full of melodic melancholy with beautifully intricate guitar lines, gorgeous synth swells and an effortlessly striped back vocal take. ‘She’s A Cult’ screams ‘Radiohead’ from its very first distorted chord structure while ‘There’s A Little Passing Cloud In You’ shakes the sonic ether with is psychedelic flavourings dripping with repetitive guitars, throbbing bass line & a brilliant drum progression that collectively leads us into a false sense of security before opening up & exploding into a massive cacophony of sound.
The albums closer ‘Airportism’ is reminiscent of latter day ‘Radiohead’ with its beautifully delicate vocal lines accompanied by that addictively melodic guitar progression and a lazy drum pattern. A perfect finale to an overall impressive debut album. Recommended listening for fans of MBV, Television, Pavement, Sonic Youth, Radiohead & Deerhunter.
ARTIST: Tales Of Murder And Dust
RELEASE: The Flow In Between
RELEASE DATE: 23rd March 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Formed in 2007, Danish psych-gazing five piece ‘Tales Of Murder And Dust’ create stunning soundscapes of immense proportions that continuously push the boundaries of our psychedelic awareness. Vocally sublime, they meld together a subtle brand of dark shoegaze with psych rock to create an impressive cacophony of sound that includes pounding drums, waves of droning and noisy guitars, violins, sitars and impressive organ swells. Their latest album ‘The Flow In Between’ got it's official release on the 23rd March 2016 via the brilliant London based Fuzz Club Records and is available right now on various from www.fuzzclub.com
The Flow In Between by Tales Of Murder And Dust
The opening track on this impressive release is ‘Tidal Waves’. Creeping, maleficent percussion and dark guitar swells entice the hauntingly brilliant violin to loop and arc throughout the sonic atmosphere as the introduction of intermittent drum hits adds intensity. When the vocal arrives it does so on a wave of beautiful noise thats reminiscent of some religious choir holed up in a cavernous church hall with its layers of impressive vocals dripping wet with stunning reverb. A deliciously sublime whirling drone, riding a hypnotically tempestuous shuffling drum pattern, heralds the arrival of track two ‘Black Reflections’ and with it comes that undeniably addictive floating vocal line, hauntingly swirling within a dark melodic sonic stew. ‘Black Reflections’ hits you right between the eyes, awakening something rather special. Track three ‘The Devil Is A Poet’ drags itself into the sonic ether on a wave of impressive guitars, soaring organ swells, sparse percussion and hypnotic tambourine hits. Reminiscent at times to ‘Spacemen 3’ or Sean Cook’s (Ex-Spiritualized) ‘Lupine Howl’ with its opiate induced vocal production, ‘The Devil Is A Poet’ is a shuffling slab of sonic darkness personified.
Up next, ‘Mirror’ sweeps into view and brings with it a certain feeling of unease as a dark, brooding cacophony of droning guitars, haunting vocal lines and steading drums collectively gives off a processional feeling. This is another impressive track, full of widescreen cinematic qualities and intense musical atmospherics. A throbbing bass line, hiding a subtle droning guitar leads us into track four, the explosive ‘Sisters’. As a swirling vocal progression intertwined within a melodic ball of noise greets the listener, this track unfolds into something magical with its melodic violins, pounding drums and delightful sonic peaks and troughs. Track five, ‘Distored Ways’ is nine minutes plus of mind inducing psychedelic brilliance. This track is a vivid maelstrom of droning guitars, haunting sitars & violins, hypnotic explosive drum patterns and that circumnavigate that impressive swirling vocal progression. A masterpiece of epic proportions and possibly my favourite track on this entire release.
Squalling feedback announces the arrival of the albums closing track ‘Endless Repetition’ as that dark hypnotic vocal progression grabs you, pulling you into a swirling whirlwind of golden orchestral instrumentation and beautifully constructed musical progressions. That swirling drone works its magic, stirring the entire sonic composition with aplomb, adding atmosphere and bringing up new psychedelic visions with each reverberating pass.
This entire collection of tracks is an edge of your seat, no holds barred, sonic journey of psychedelic discovery.
ARTIST: Sons Of The Void
RELEASE: Sons Of The Void
RELEASE DATE: 4th March 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Sunrise Ocean Bender
Finding a true impressionistic collection of psychedelic tracks that are written in a traditionalist way, without computerised trickery or over hyphenated gadgets to control the music’s every move, in todays modern psych scene is a difficult thing to do. With so many different sub-genres attaching itself to the scene it sometimes becomes muggy, uninteresting and frankly bloody boring. So imagine my surprise when I opened up the debut self-titled album from Swiss based psych duo David Max and Nick Nobody aka ‘Sons Of The Void’ and was instantly blown away by its stunningly un-compromised collection of melodically sensible psychedelic treats that are stuck firmly within an experimental 60’s lo-fi swirl. Released via the incredibly trustworthy independent record label ‘Sunrise Ocean Bender’ on March 4th 2016 this stunning debut release will tip toe into your life, scoop you up and effectively bring you on an acid drenched rollercoaster ride of intense proportions.
Sons of the Void by Sons of the Void
The album opens up with the insanely experimental ‘Leichenblume’. The jittering opening sample track makes way for beautifully hypnotic guitar progressions that swirl like some invisible vortex around that melodic vocal line for what seems like an eternity until we’re led into the opening chord progressions of track two, ‘Don’t Forget To Pray’. It in turn, uses its soothing vocals coupled with those beautifully arranged guitar progressions to rock back and forth acting like some metaphorical sonic security blanket thats used to buffer against those tremulous and reverberating sonic frequencies that seem to loop and arc all over the musical ether. The vivid opening bars of ‘Kolliderscope’ swirl within that impressive spoken word vocal sample as it meanders on an explosive percussive pattern that leads us all into it’s soaring chorus progression and on into oblivion whilst the almost country tinged psychedelic sounds of ‘Absorption’ relaxes the senses and eases away the ill’s of a weary day by inviting you into its inner sanctum for a slice of sonic sustenance.
‘Hope I Don’t Miss’ swirls within a melodic late 60’s west coast vibe through its opening bars before crunching into sixth gear and deftly shifting up into a warm, fuzzy, hair standing on end wall of noise thats musically reminiscent of early ‘Spacemen 3’ as its vocal tracks just hang in suspended animation waiting to be explored. Golden edged sonic waves usher in the brilliant psych-pop tones of ‘The Things We Wish’ whilst ‘A Kick Like That’ has dub connotations mingling in amongst it’s swirling psych induced vocal takes and those expansive jangling guitar lines. ‘A Kick Like That’ is thoroughly enjoyable and possibly my favourite track on this entire release. The album closes with ‘Little Children’, an infectious track stuffed to the brim with impressively melodic vocal lines streaked with beautiful guitar flourishes that are collectively embossed deep within 60’s psychedelia.
There is a beautiful calmness surrounding every track on this release that’s intensely melancholic, brilliantly overpowering and deeply infectious. ‘Sons Of The Void’ expertly push the experimental sonic envelope but somehow manage to stay within the realms of the psych purist. If you have to listen to one album today, it should be this!
Manchester based psych aficionados 'W.H Lung' have unleashed a seriously infectious track in the guise of their debut single 'Inspiration', a blistering motorik slice of experimental modern day psych. The band released the track back on November 25th via their own label 'Hed Glo Inc'. The track is available via Apple Music, etc etc and as free download via the bands soundcloud page, although it is limited to the first 100 people!
'Inspiration' enters into earshot on a repetitious instrumental drone before the bass frequencies build and the motorik rhythms take hold. The percussion swirls as hypnotically undulating synth swells usher in those hard hitting vocals underscored by tremulous guitar squall and swathes of reverb to collectively meander through sonic peaks and troughs and on into the musical ether. This is a triumphant debut single from a band who we will definitely be watching going forward into 2017.
Just Like Leningrad by The Orange Kyte
Vancouver based psych outfit 'The Orange Kyte' have unleashed the penultimate track on their mammoth sonic expedition to release one track per month for 2016! This latest track is called 'Just Like Leningrad' and as per it's 11 predecessors it packs a serious melodious punch! 'The Orange Kyte' are made up of Steve Moonboots & a revolving door of likeminded musicians. Piloting the good ship Orange Kyte on this voyage are Stevie Moonboots - Guitars/Vocals, Mat Durie - Organ, Dave Mulvaney - Drums/Percussion, Robin Schroffel - Bass, Additional guitar by Kyle McQueen of Strange Things, Trumpet by Caton Diab & Trombone by Jonah Kya Goksøyr. 'Just Like Leningrad' is available to buy/download right now from: theorangekyte.bandcamp.com
'Just Like Leningrad' swirls in a circulian spiral of melodious frequencies where the droning organ holds court and those infectious vocals ride a tempestuous percussive assault. The refreshing addition of a brass section adds blistering depth as guitars & throbbing bass lines undulate thus weaving a seriously heady sonic brew.
ARTIST: The Telescopes
RELEASE: Hidden Fields
RELEASE DATE: 7th August 2015
RECORD COMPANY: Tapete Records
Far from the introspective ears of the mainstream media whores & hidden deep within a swirling mass of droning guitars and reverb laced vocals lies the ingenious mind of seminal experimental psychedelic explorer / founder & sole remaining member of legendary UK based band ‘The Telescopes’ AKA Mr. Stephen Lawrie! Founded in 1987 ‘The Telescopes’ have been creating a seriously addictive brand of psychedelically infused noisy space rock, intertwined at times with a shimmering intense melodic brilliance that transcends even this modern day spaced out shoegazing rebirth thus continually giving them the ability to transport the listener back to a world where musical experimentation is king & floating in a suspended reverberating whirlwind is common place. To most musical commentators they were the underdogs of the 80’s /90’s but to me they were the dogs bollox and are more relevant today, in my opinion, than any of the recently reformed musical bandwagon riders.
As you can probably gather I am & have always been a Telescopes fan. Back in the early days when my friends were following the exploits of Slowdive & Ride or trying without hope to understand the inner confines of ‘Creation Records’ own – ‘My Bloody Valentine’ I was more interested in what ‘The Telescopes’ were experimenting with musically. It was Spacemen 3, The Telescopes, The Velvet Underground & Jesus And Mary Chain that soundtracked my early pre-adult life. I began listening to them in school after I was handed a DIY home recorded copied cassette of their very first release entitled ‘Taste’ & was instantly hooked on the brilliant single ‘The Perfect Needle’. But it wasn’t until their follow up, the epic self titled monolith (or if your new fan of the band the aptly named reissued version – ‘Untitled Second’ ) that I really began to sit up & take note of just what this band could create collectively! It was a sonic awakening! A full on rollercoaster ride of shimmering brilliance with tracks such as Flying, High On Fire, Ocean Drive & the stunning Sleepwalk leading the charge. Did they go all baggy around this time? Probably! But I tend to see it as a natural experimental progression on the road to musical martyrdom.
‘The Telescopes’ called it a day in 1992 but after a 8 year hiatus they underwent a sonic resurrection to rave live reviews (within the ever circling music press) but with a revolving door policy when it came to band members! They regrouped & returned to their foundation sound of melodic white noise, drone & space rock. Throughout this resurrection there was one continuous shining beacon of light in the guise of the ever present Stephen Lawrie! The band, in various forms, went on to release a plethora of immense albums including the brilliantly intense ‘Third Wave (2002)‘ followed by the experimental ‘Number 4 (2005)’ & then ‘Hungry Audio Tapes ( 2006)’, ‘Infinite Suns (2008)’, ‘HARM (2013)’, various compilations & live albums, split 7’ & 10’ singles with various bands including ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ & ‘Deadly Cradle Death’. The list goes on!
Stephen Lawrie teamed up brilliant Glasgow based noise rockers ‘St Deluxe’ to release a brand new 5 track album entitled ‘Hidden Fields’ (out on the 7th August 15) via ‘Tapete Records’. This release continues his love of experimental droning space rock & dreamy infectious mind bending soundscapes.
The EP opens up with the dark menacing overtones of ‘You Know The Way’. A howling white knuckle ride through layers of feedback, throbbing bass lines & addictive drum patterns that somehow seem to sit perfectly on a two chord guitar progression of melodic brilliance reminiscent in parts to early Sub-Pop era ‘Mudhoney’ or ‘Sonic Youth’. Add into the mix that soul wrenching vocal line & that ever present screaming guitar and we have our favourite track right here! Simply Immense! Next up we’re into early ‘Spaceman 3’ territory with the droning melodic overtones of ‘Absence’. This for me is music made for coming down to (all be it via headphones!) ‘In Every Sense’ screams ‘The Velvet Underground meets Jesus And Mary Chain’ but with a heavier droning maelstrom of sound more commonly found within the modern day droning genre with bands such as Scottish based outfit 'The Cherry Wave’ or UK based ’93 Million Miles From The Sun’ leading the charge. Next up, track 4 – ‘Don’t Bring Me Round’ is a swirling whirlwind of dark oppressive brilliance intertwined with screaming guitars, hypnotic drums & a demonic vocal line that somehow seems to dig itself out of the overall sound & hug a melodic undertone of shimmering intensity. Highly addictive in parts but with a musical brilliance that will leave you gobsmacked. The closing track on ‘Hidden Fields’ should have a post code all of its own! Coming in at 15 minutes plus ‘The Living Things’ is a chaotic collision of swirling guitars, droning noisy sounds & shuffling drums that somehow all intertwine into musical logic! Put simply it makes musical sense! This track belongs on a short film outlining one mans decent into suspended reverberation. It's the ‘TRON’ of the musical world – a bloody masterpiece!
‘Hidden Fields’ is a musical rollercoaster ride through multifaceted layers of sonic goodness. Not for the faint hearted, this oppressive collection of tracks needs continuous listens to peel back the dark overpowering sense of foreboding that swirls around its inner being. But once you hear its shimmering melodic core it will have you hooked on its internal beauty. A truly magnificent adventure to a world of sonic abandonment & one that I will return to again & again.
ARTIST: Rancho Relaxo
RELEASE: White Light Fever
RELEASE DATE: 2nd May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Wrong Way Records
Self described as creating “Neo Psychedelic Zendom”, Norwegian based ‘Rancho Relaxo’ return with a fifteen track monolith of sonic delights via Wrong Way Records(UK). ‘White Light Fever’ is the bands seventh release & again epitomises their unique talent of creating whirlwinds of intense psych infused shoegaze intertwined with subtle spacey kraut rock tones & when its all melded together it produces an exquisite collection of alternative, droning soundscapes. ‘Rancho Relaxo’ collectively create impressive sonic pictures, of mind bending acid tab proportions, and take their listeners on a coloured hypnotic journey through their entire musical world where droning guitars are king!
White Light Fever by Rancho Relaxo
The album opens up with an intriguing but highly addictive droning tone that swirls & arcs within some kind of suspended animation until we’re treated to that shimmering guitar line, shuffling drum pattern, tambourines, reverb drenched vocal progressions and the mesmerising swagger of ‘Strange Vibrations’. Up next, is the aptly named but blindingly brilliant ‘Who Married Jane Fonda’. It permeates the sound sphere & introduces us to a haunting, duel vocal attack straddling a simple but repetitive drum & synth pattern and those insanely hazy guitars! ‘Stars’ jangles on its beautiful shoegazing sonic axis while ‘Who Says’ is reminiscent of US based alt psych aficionados ‘The Warlocks’ with its lazy, layered fuzzy tone that addictively floats on a wave of reverberating joy. ‘What You Want’ evokes that shimmering 60’s tinge of romantic melancholy mixed with menacing ‘Velvet Undergound’ styled overtones.
‘Im Crying’ is like a modern day psych soul explosion with its piercing organ swells, fuzzed out guitars and distorted vocal lines & the brilliant ‘Its All In A Dream’ is an abrupt reverberating wall of noise! ‘If You Want To’ is a psychedelic journey of epic proportions with its soaring organ swells & reverb drenched vocal lines all swirling within a maelstrom of droning guitars & repetitive drums. ‘Dead Space’ is a menacing, swirling ball of coiled up noise that loops & arc’s all over the sonic landscape with aplomb whilst ‘Clean Eyes’ is six minutes plus of impressive, shimmering, melodic brilliance that creeps and waits in the shadows before exploding onto the musical canvass with stunning effect.
Up next, ‘Desert Talk’ is a spaced out, wavy instrumental affair that has impressive peaks & troughs throughout while the dynamic ‘Taken’ slows proceedings down completely to a beautiful cacophony of golden shimmering sound waves. ‘Fake Human’ begins with a swirling synth sample that in turn heralds the arrival of a brilliant psych driven behemoth. ‘Fake Human’ is utter self indulgence & a true sonic masterpiece. It’s the jangling intro of ‘Now It’s Dark’ that quickly makes way for a thrill ride through an infectious, desert gaze inspired soundscape, jam packed full of impressive droning & swirling whirlwinds of sound, but steadied by a solid drum pattern, hypnotic tambourines and pure, full on psychedelic charm! White Light Fever’s closing track is thing of beauty! ‘White Light’ in my opinion, is the foundation stone of this entire release. A swirling blissful drone completely wraps itself around the musical atmosphere, its careful tone shaping & comforting the carelessly enveloping sound waves with ease. You really have to listen to this track on headphones to experience it in it’s entirety.
Overall ‘White Light Fever’ is passionately experimental. It twists & turns with psychedelic glee and entrances its listeners with every single solitary note. This album is thoroughly enjoyable, recommended listening & a worthy entrant into any psych gazing fans music collection.
ARTIST: One Unique Signal
RELEASE DATE: April 2016
As most of you may or may not already know from reading any of my previous reviews, I’m a sucker for bands who push boundaries and experiment with sound. I get excited at the prospect of reading about how certain bands develop their sound on a particular album or release. The third album from UK-based sonic explorers One Unique Signal does just that. Born out of one single repetitious loop from the recording sessions on their previous album, ‘Aether’, ‘Hoopsnake’ is a collaborative four-track monolith of immense sound constructed by the three members of the band and 20 of their contemporaries, including The Oscillations’s Damien Castellanos and Stephen Lawrie of The Telescopes. The resulting four tracks are a testament to the abilities of the artists involved to bend and form sound-waves at will into a sometimes dark and menacing sonic maelstrom and at other times into a beautiful, reverb-drenched, atmospheric soundscape that’s awash with massive synth swells and droning psychedelic guitars. ‘Hoopsnake’ was released via the brilliant UK-based Fuzz Club Records and is available to purchase on all formats from the record label’s website right now.
‘Hoopsnake’ opens with the dark and oppressive ‘HS 01’. Menacing synth swells make way for an explosive whirlwind of sonic delight as a repetitive drum pattern ushers in the tempestuous guitars and off kilter vocal progressions that meld together and manifest into one impressive wall of sound. ‘HS 01’ is heavy work at times as it builds and builds into an oppressive sonic assault on the senses, but there is a sullen clarity hiding deep within the swirling maelstrom of reverb-induced sound-waves that just makes sense! ‘HS 02’ openly glitters as intricate glitchy sounds pan left and right. The sonic tempest builds slowly from far below this listener’s audible range as swirling synths bubble to the surface. ‘HS 02’ is unsettling at first but switches into a rhythmic, almost metronomic animal as the droning guitars enter the fray, adding weight to proceedings as it leads us into that majestic expansive finale! Up next, ‘HS 03’ brings yet another swirling synth drone to the fore. This time accompanied by sampled birdsong and creeping, stagnated and edgy fret noise. This is intensely atmospheric as the whirling drone gathers momentum and pulsates into a living, breathing animal. ‘HS 03’ is so dark and malevolent it will leave you checking behind the shower curtain before going to bed at night. The album’s closing track, entitled ‘HS04’, begins with beautiful reverb-drenched chord structures that shimmer and drone upon themselves. They build and build into a stunning cacophony of immense sound waves before an addictive but plodding synth progression takes over and ushers in the finale.
‘Hoopsnake’ is indeed experimental! It is also sometimes hard to listen to and in the same breath, sometimes awe inspiring. The sonic field it possesses is massive and it’s that expansive soundscape that sucks you in and introduces you to magnificent swells of sonic energy. It’s a wonderful collection of tracks that I feel you really need to sit down, listen and concentrate on properly. Recommended listening all the same!
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.