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.
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: Distant Sea
RELEASE DATE: 28th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club
There are only so many things a chorus pedal can do. Those eleven meagre words could swiftly and perhaps eponymously give title to any article that a writer, a critic or blogger wishes to write about Mac Demarco. He’s the smelly, dirty looking hipster who popularized a kind of jangle pop that initially appears nostalgic and light-laced but eventually secedes into a kind of alcoholic- nicotine based adventure through adolescence that one can enjoy on a leisurely afternoon at the beach, or when they are traversing their inner past-histrionics. Either way, Demarco has used the chorus pedal to do two things (perhaps unintentionally), one is a kind of career suicide; he’s tied himself and crossed his own tracks so much so that he has transcended his own status into a type of figure that could be identified as post-celebrity (it was once trendy to listen to the guy, to wear his clothes and to smoke vile amounts of cigarettes, but since the polo-wearing normies of the world have discovered Mac, he just aint as cool). The second (and more important) is that Mac has put the preverbal knife through the gullet of any aspiring musician who wishes to touch on a similar style of music as his own. How many times do we hear music that we identify as ‘fake Mac Demarco’? A lot. It seems everybody who owned a shitty guitar and had a knack for overalls and dirty looking shoes has become a kind of Demarco-wannabe of sorts. This makes it hard for people like Saccades, who (funnily enough) is actually a hell of a lot more interesting than Mac. Saccades is proof that this genre slating, this assumption and veracious practician of overlooking should all be skipped over, and that nothing but the music should be analysed. Saccades 'Distant Sea' is testament to all of this, and is further proof that Fuzz Club Records know what they are doing. The album was released on the 28th July 2017 and is available to buy/download right now on various formats via fuzz club.com and saccadesmusic.bandcamp.com respectively.
Saccades by Saccades
Distant Sea opens with the title track; its warmly strummed guitar pop poses a beautiful contrast to the lo-fi type production quality of the album. This is where one first hears the quality of the song writing; its fantastic mixture of the nostalgic-dream baked feelings of summer and the breezy relaxation of the heat of the beach and days gone by. ‘Bleeding Colours’ continues on this path, but alters slightly to offer another take on the aforementioned sound again. This time, tempo is up and the guitars eager and dizzing strums give it a neat kind of post-punk feel. The tight, drum-lead feel of ‘Bleeding Colours’ is extenuated on ‘Elusive Dream’, sounding like it could have been a Coldwave-style track with a thicker bass tone and darker production qualities. All the while, the vocals remain slightly (in a well crafted way) drowned out in the mix of the music. ‘Crying Land’ echoes the orange-sun aesthetic of other lo-fi and experimental acts; reverb is heavy and things seem somewhat darker and more confined in a way. The song still retains the same feel and atmosphere as previous tracks however, making it a stray from the path that doesn’t lose track of itself completely.
‘In and Out’ is one of the closest songs Saccades gets to minimalism; its brilliant piano based rhythmic set up keeps things tight and coordinated through the entire song. Synths waver and fluctuate in the background… Everything seems like a trip down a dizzingly hallucinogenic river. ‘Know My Name’ stands as an album highlight; the song writing is of a neat kind of radio-friendly pop music, touched on the other side by the experimental aesthetic of lo-fi music. The lyrics are deep but playful; interesting while also being ingrained within the music as one whole piece of the puzzle. ‘Running Wild’ also sticks out as a memorable track, appearing more upbeat than the previous track. Saccades displays his knack for the act of layering and melody and enjoyably jangling styles on ‘Red’, which features a simple but impressive guitar line. Another album highlight is the danceable ‘Cigales’; collecting up the tricks that Saccades has explored formerly on ‘Distant Sea’ before pushing forward something new and impressive into the mix. ‘High Drift’ pushes for the production based-skill of atmosphere creation to help carve out a moody and beautifully simple track that seems much more downtrodden than their other releases.
You should know two things: (just to clarify) I don’t hate Mac Demarco; in fact, I feel quite the opposite about him. Also, Saccades 'Distant Sea' is one of the greatest examples of an artist wading through the depths of lo-fi music I’ve heard in a while. Between the well written and catchy songs lies a dedication to originality that can so obviously be overlooked by listeners. There is a genuine sense of concentrated and well-crafted song writing at play on Distant Sea, and this is helped further along by the tape-recording and mixing quality of the release. It is a lengthy album, featuring twelve songs… But unlike many artists in similar genres, the songs themselves maintain a level of originality between them that makes everything seem that bit more refreshing and alternative from the track before it. There is a level of nostalgia that comes with it all as well; the kind of sun-sets and cold sand that I could write an essay about… But I’ll refrain from that; I just thought it should be noted. Listen for an album projecting beauty against its desire to, and for an album a bit more interesting than those have forged namesakes on its basic reciepe; achieved through production, song writing and sound.