ALBUM REVIEW | Novanta - Hello We're Not Enemies

a3031669297_16ARTIST: Novanta

RELEASE: Hello We're Not Enemies

RELEASE DATE: 17th June 2016

RECORD COMPANY: Seashell Records

Hello We’re Not Enemies is an album by Milan-based electronica outfit Novanta. On this release, over seven tracks of varying lengths and degrees, Novanta carve and pump out a wide range of beautiful and elegant alternative genres that paint a shimmering picture of a band who are fully pledged to their art form. And that is one compliment that must be instantly handed to Novanta and this album; it is a reflection of a band with a plan who have laid out seven diverse but fantastic tracks, in a great track listing, giving each song enough space to bounce off the one before. It is hard to explain, but after listening to the album over and over, it is its structure that (besides the music) is one of its strongest points. This coupled with its echoed Synthwave production and mixing, make for a refreshing, interesting and great listen.

The album opens with the atmospheric intro-instrumental track, ‘Sonder’. With its humming and heavy synths, it seeks out to paint a picture in the listeners mind, and does so successfully. What is this picture? It is of a dark, empty highway that runs through a metropolis like city, perhaps in the 3000’s; and the band take the listener on a journey down this very highway, equipped with bouncing drum machines and an elegant and neon-bright soundscape. It is a piece of darkwave genius that leads straight into the belly of the beast; or in this case, the heart of the city. ‘Goðafoss’ follows on from the synth of ‘Sonder’ but adds a whole other dynamic at around the fifty second mark with a flood of soaring synth, drums and a neat background guitar to create an emotive and sophisticated coldwave sound, descending into the depths of post-punk. This is one of the albums greatest tracks, perhaps partly based on the fact that although it is sung in a language other than English, I can still (without understanding the lyrics) feel the vocalist’s sensitive and magnificent performance and know it is of a whole other stature; that it is a brilliant track. As the song pumps on in a post-punk/electro tone, it flows out into a beautiful final piece of keyboard contemplation and ceases at around the three minute mark, even though I could have listened to double its running time and still be immersed in the sound and music. ‘Mike’ begins with a kick drum-heavy eighties inspired drum machine, and seeps into a serene bass and keyboard hum, with great Cure-esque vocals that build the song up to its dark and glistening chorus, where climbing synths pulsate the background. If ‘Sonder’ was the trip toward metropolis and ‘Goðafoss’ was a metaphorical wander of its dark streets, then ‘Mike’ is the contemplative subplot of a character lost within the city labyrinth, rising in elevators, staring out the window as it climbs a massive building. ‘Mike’ is visiting the cold, rolling shoreline and gazing out as the wind blows in from a land beyond; utterly enthralling.

‘Tell A Story’ holds up the middle of the album with dream pop sensibilities and composure, but Novanta attempts to stuff the track full of different genres; an act that does not propel ‘Tell A Story’ to the monumental heights of the previous tracks. Instead, the song seems drawn out and jumps from sound to sound, with a reverbed and low-mixed dreampop/shoegaze vocal track in the background, coupled with the slow tap of a drum machine for a full and heavier sound. ‘Blue Lagoon’ stands at over seven minutes and utilizes a similar sound to the opening three tracks, although this song becomes less engaging at the beginning and flourishes as an intelligent and full sound toward the tracks closing. I feel like there is more potential in this track, as the band have demonstrated before how talented they are at choosing their sounds wisely; as it is used only minimally on ‘Blue Lagoon’. However, the three minute mark shines brightly another intelligent piece of music making from Novanta; who enhance the track to a tribal, dream like stature. ‘Melted Eyes’ closes the album with an eerie, dream evoked sound with a touch of darkwave that connects fantastically with the other tracks on the album. If the listener has been wandering the proverbial dark metropolis landscape for the album, then ‘Melted Eyes’ serves as a clever conclusion and a meditative beginning. The piano that touches quietly over the rumbling synth shines light into the heart of the darkwave resonance, and the listener emerges quietly from the labyrinth of coldwave into a whole other world full of light. At the same time, the distant tone of the vocals evokes a sense of contemplation deep within, coupled with a reflective power that allows ‘Melted Eyes’ its own beautiful place on Hello We’re Not Enemies.

The opening three tracks are the absolute highlight of the entire album; they spin with darkwave perspicacity that sooth and offer the listener the opportunity to reflect on the deep and post-punk influenced sounds of the album. Although this is not necessarily a concept album, I felt as though the first half was a fantastic construction of the aforementioned picture of a metropolis like city. With this in mind, I felt the middle few tracks fell out of this concept; so I examined them as songs in their own right and felt only moderate interest toward them. Novanta pull themselves together, however, and finish quite strongly on the last few tracks. Overall the album is great; but it could have been even greater, with a more direct and fleshed out sound. The production is good, the mixing is strong and the performances should be praised on all the tracks. With Hello We’re Not Enemies, Novanta meld together post-punk, electro, shoegaze, darkwave and synth stylings to create a fusion album of spectacular depth, a reflection of their skill with the art of sound.

4/5

‘Hello We’re Not Enemies’ was released on the 17th June 2016 via the Palermo based independent record label Seashell Recordsseashellrecords.bandcamp.com

LINKS:

seashellrecords.bandcamp.com

novanta.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/novantamusic

twitter.com/novanta_

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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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 the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.


ALBUM REVIEW | Shoegazin’ Your Waves (Italian Shoegaze Compilation)

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ARTIST: Shoegazin' Your Waves Magazine

RELEASE: Shoegazin’ Your Waves - Italian Shoegaze Compilation

RELEASE DATE: 15/03/15

There seems to be a real hotbed of musical activity coming out of Italy these days, especially in the genre of shoegaze. Bands like Clustersun, Stella Diana, and Klam keep crossing my path, and now we have yet another superb shoegaze compilation put out by Shoegazin’ Your Waves magazine (all in Italian). And not everyone is riding the MBV vein either, judging from the selections here. In fact, I hear Joy Division and The Cure as often as I hear the usual musical influences you expect from shoegazers.

For example, the aforementioned Klam give us “Depression Ridin’ Cowboys”, which would have slotted nicely on any Joy Division record. For that matter, I also hear a strong Chameleons influence in the guitar work. Give it a whirl to see what I mean.

 

Clustersun may have the highest profile here, and they’re coming to the US at the end of April. They also sing in English, which may make them a bit more accessible to some. “Planar I II Live” is reverb drenched with the requisite intensity, and leans more toward heavy psychedelia than shoegaze.

 

The Gluts could be in bed with Band of Susans on “The Thing”, throwing down those heavy riffs with aplomb. They must be loud bordering on insane in a live setting.

 

86 Sandals dials it back on “If” with watery guitar and a repeating woman’s voice. It is minimalist shoegaze, for want of a better description.

 

Allie’s Dope brings “Misread When Overthought” to the table, and it’s a pleasant, low key sort of affair.

 

Rev Rev Rev on “Rip the Veil” also sing in English, and have mastered the MBV playbook. They have the messed up guitar over vocals buried deep, and it works well for them.

 

“Smell of Rain” is a lovely but subdued instrumental from Good Morning Finch

 

Kimono Lights offer the pretty “Aurora”, though it sounds like they are playing very far away from the listener.

 

Novanta brings their shimmering sound front and center with “Worthless Whirls”, and they have a killer bass line to underscore its excellence.

 

Add into the mix  Grass On The Sun - The Corner, In Her Eye - Chameleon & My Invisible Friend  - Eyes  and we have a serious combination of great tracks.

 

Stella Diana close out the collection with “Navarre”, a song that flits easily between delicate passages and heavier sound waves. They employ voice recordings in one place, marking this as fairly different from the other songs.

 

All in all, this is a very nice collection of tunes from a talented list of bands.

LINKS:

facebook.com/shoegazinyourwaves

soundcloud.com/shoegazin-your-waves

clustersun.bandcamp.com/

stelladiana.bandcamp.com/

novanta.bandcamp.com/album/novanta-2

kimonolights.bandcamp.com/releases

grassonthesun.bandcamp.com/

inhereye.bandcamp.com/album/borderline

goodmorningfinch.bandcamp.com/

revrevrev.bandcamp.com/

alliesdope.bandcamp.com/releases

band86sandals.bandcamp.com/album/e-u-n-o-t-o

thegluts.bandcamp.com/

klam.bandcamp.com/album/bleak

myinvisiblefriend.bandcamp.com/releases

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

elizabeth

Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence". During and after her college years, she ran a weekly radio show at WMUA FM Radio and also at a community station in Springfield, MA, in addition to writing music and concert reviews for the college newspaper. At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and recently began producing a semi-regular Mixcloud-based show called The Kitchen Sink. In the real world, when not writing technical manuals, she gets her thrills from reading mysteries, birdwatching, and can always be found with a camera and a maxed-out storage card full of music. 


ALBUM REVIEW: Novanta - Best Selling Dreams (Seashell Records)

images   novanta-logo

Artist: Novanta

Record Company: Seashell Records

Release: Best Selling Dreams

Release Date: 27/10/14

Nu-Gaze is a term that scares the life out of me. I generally tend to stay well away from it for fear of lumping a band or an artist into a sub-genre of music that they neither belong to or indeed should be in at all. I personally believe, that wether you use synth's & drum machine's,  guitars & effects or effected ethereal vocals to create wall’s of sound then by right's you should be classed as shoegaze, not tagged with the dreaded Nu-Gaze moniker, that seem's to be lumped onto band’s these day's just for trying out something new or for being different. We need to actively promote and support these band's for trying out something different in today's modern musical landscape, not labelling them outside of the shoegaze family for being different! After all, if we keep creating new terminologies for the different era's or newest wave of gaze, are we not eventually going to completely wipe away the original concept, which is shoegaze?

Italian based shoegaze has been on the rise, in my opinion, for a while now and I’ve touched on it before through mentioning other Italian gaze band's & reviewing Italian releases for this blog (case in point - Stella Diana), but one band in particular are bringing a new form of modern day shoegaze to a worldwide audience via another amazing independent record label who are not only cradling shoegaze on their roster but also Folk, Psychedelic Rock, Alt-Folk, Wave, Neo-Folk, Indie Pop, Folktronic & Ambient artists too. Seashell Records are based in Palermo, Italy & are in my opinion one of the foremost purveyors of Italian gaze today. One such act on their roster are 'Novanta' - they hail from Milan, Italy and are a shoegaze/post-rock/electronic project created by Manfredi Lamartina. They released a stunning album of 8 track's full of ambient, post-rock & shoegaze connotations back in September 2014 through the medium of Seashell Records  called -  'Best Selling Dreams'.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=3953707366 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=e32c14 tracklist=false artwork=small]

 

'Best Selling Dreams' opens up with 'Light Changes'. A drum sequence doesn't give anything away at all before this track opens up into a blistering dreampop infused soundscape with a modern twist. The use of synth's on this track are exquisite & the vocal effects/production are immense. Check it out.

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If anyone ever wanted to know about how good modern day Italian shoegaze really is then track two on this epic release will educate you on it's brilliance. As it's title suggest's 'Windows' will open your eye's & ear's to Italian shoegaze & take you on a journey of monumental proportion's from the off. This track explodes on the musical canvas with effected guitar's & and addictive vocal line's leading us into that immense chorus change. Sheer emotive & expressive shoegaze at it's very, very best. 

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With a look back to the first wave, track three on 'Best Selling Dreams' is my personal favourite. 'Worthless Whirl's' is old school. This track alone has everything, from it's post-punk touches to it's dream-wave infused vocals all comfortably swirling around it's shoegaze leanings. 'Worthless Whirls' is immense! It build's & build's until the haunting vocal arrives on top of post-punk inspired bass line leading us to that brilliant 'My Bloody Valentine' like wall of effected guitar's. This is shoegaze! Check it out.

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You can listen to any track on this album & never fail to get completely inspired with what 'Novanta' & Manfredi Lamartina have achieved. From it's opening track 'Light Changes' on into 'Windows, Worthless Whirls, Novanta Song, A Fever, 2Young2Die, Reasons' & the album's epic closer 'La Maledizione Degli Affetti', 'Best Selling Dreams' should be celebrated for what it is - a brilliant shoegaze album infused with post-punk, dream-pop & ambient styling's, harking back, in parts, to the first wave of shoegaze!  This is a truly wonderful album & one that I'll continue to reference as one of the best underground Italian shoegaze albums of 2014, going forward.

 Del Chaney- The Primal Music Blog - February 2015 - Dublin, Ireland.

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Check out other artists over at SeashellRecords.bandcamp.com

You can find out more about the brilliant 'Novanta' here:

Facebook.com/Novanta

Twitter.Com/Novanta

Novanta.bandcamp.com

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Del Chaney has spent the last two years not only fronting popular Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave, but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the Unsigned or Small Independent Label based Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Noise-Rock & Post-Rock genre’s of music from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. His other arm, The Primal Radio Show, has gained considerable respect from band’s and promoter’s alike since it’s conception in 2013 & has hepled him in actively promoting a genre of music that he's passionate about. He also currently write's for Canadian based online music webzine www.ReplicantEars.comHailing 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.

 

10957870_1543445362610481_3298815984403428976_n phonto