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ALBUM REVIEW | Panda Riot - Infinity Maps

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ARTIST: Panda Riot

RELEASE: Infinity Maps

RELEASE DATE: 9th June 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Chicago based hazy dream-gazers 'Panda Riot' have announced a gargantuan eighteen track monolith in the guise of 'Infinity Maps', the follow up to their impressive 2013 release 'Northern Automatic Music'. Steeped in an deeply experimental hue 'Infinity Maps' skips through massive swathes of shoegaze, gloriously addictive dream pop and darker electronic moments with blistering aplomb pulling it's listeners inwards as it spirals out into the ether. The instrumental pieces on this album are sublime and coupled with impressive song writing abilities, stunning vocals and brilliantly executed layers of production, it is sure to be one of best albums of 2017 come years end. This mesmerising Illinois based quartet are made up of Rebecca Scott - vocals/guitar, Brian Cook - guitar/drum machine/programming, José Alejandro Rodríguez - drums  & Cory Osborne - bass and you can pre-order 'Infinity Maps' on various formats via pandariot.bandcamp.com

Waves of raging melodious turbulence swirl into earshot as droning guitar squall gives way to shimmering vocalisations and squealing feedback. ‘Aphelion’ bubbles precariously on a bedrock of impressive percussion, noisy guitars and humming bass frequencies peppered at times by subtle swells of synth, wavy reverberations and broken up by magnificent breaks filled with soaring vocal lines. Up next, ‘Helios (June 20th)’ swirls into audible range trapped in cloud of shoegaze infused dream pop as it’s beautifully serine vocal lines bounce and whirr on layers of tremulous reverb drenched guitar progressions whilst ‘Latitudes’ pulses on sequenced electronics and churning instrumental drones before fading out through wavy vocal samples and impressive production theatrics. ‘Ghosting’ unfurls its sonic tendrils stuck fast to a plinking synth progression before careering headlong into a brutish wall of hazy guitars & plodding bass, sweeping synth swells and metronomic percussion all collectively enveloping that soaring vocal track before ‘Chimera’ explodes into a haze of atmospherics as it’s cinematic leanings are brought to bare tumbling effortlessly in a cyclonic ball filled with fizzing synths, lazy percussion, fuzzy guitars and its addictive backwards vocal lines.

Pounding drum patterns and soaring melodious guitars ride throbbing bass frequencies and sequenced bleeps as they circumnavigate beautifully serine vocalisations before ‘Double Dream’ explodes into a mesmerising finale swiftly followed by the tremulous opening guitar tones of ‘Arrows’ and it’s cascading bass lines, hypnotic drum patterns and those shimmering reverberations. Wavy instrumentation coupled with a serine piano progression and instantly refreshing vocal samples herald the arrival of the deliciously dreamy ‘Parachutes’ whilst the driving percussion of ‘Night Animation’ swirls delicately in a hazy modern dream pop vibe underscored at times with acres of reverberation, soaring layered guitars and shimmering vocalisations. The experimental leanings of ‘Parallels’ wash over this listener as sparse drum patterns, humming bass frequencies and swooshing guitar drones circumnavigate that laid back vocal performance allowing moments of sonic abandonment to pierce the normally rigid song structures created by the band. The album swoons as ‘Infinity Maps’ undulates into audible range tumbling effortlessly in a whirlwind of beautifully intense frequencies permeated by the hypnotic swing of the drums before the instrumental pause that is ‘Niagara’ pulses on swathes of comforting atmospheric synth and sequenced bleeps & whirrs.

‘New Colours’ oozes sonic brilliance as its captivating dream pop leanings bob and weave on layers of hazy guitar, steadying percussion, throbbing melodious bass lines and entrancing vocal lines. There are subtle moments of woozy shoegaze bubbling up at times throughout this track as lead guitar lines whip and cajole resonating frequencies, pushing them through layers of reverb and whammy bar theatrics. ‘Aurora Shift’ moves back into a more experimental patch as a bouncing bass line rides giddying sequenced percussion and swirling synth swells before the instrumental 'Glass Cathedrals' surges through layers of sticky delay, hazy reverb and turbulent drones. Up next, the brilliant ‘Gold Lines’ doffs it's well worn cap to those early 90’s shoegaze stalwarts as it undulates into the ether on a tremulous wall of reverb hued guitars and steadying percussion. Addictive lead progressions pull another intense vocal performance out into the light accompanied by growling passages of soaring shoegaze and cascading bass frequencies. Possibly my favourite track on the entire release, ‘Gold Lines’ doesn’t disappoint. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Otherside’ swoons into earshot on a beautifully intense wave of synth and droning guitar as metronomic percussion and a throbbing bass line announces a beautifully effervescent vocal take. The albums closes out on an infectious footing as tumbling vocals intertwine with backwards guitars and addictive production as ‘Magic Numbers’ bookends a fascinating collection of tracks.

Panda Riot never fail to impress me. Their grasp on what is relevant in this modern underground shoegaze & dream pop scene is as evident as ever on this new album. Collectively the quartet move effortlessly through passages of experimentation and ambient exploration whilst keeping a firm grip on their core D.I.Y values, drawing on slivers of wide ranging influence to create magnificent modern sounding standalone pieces alongside their well crafted early 90’s inspired soundtracks that keeps them consistently relevant in todays ever evolving scene. Some folks might find that eighteen tracks is a chore to get through in one sitting but I can guarantee that each one will captivate and hypnotise both old and new fans alike.

Impressive return to form.

5/5

LINKS:

pandariot.bandcamp.com

pandariot.com

facebook.com/PandaRiotBand/

instagram.com/panda_riot/

twitter.com/pandavspanda

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney has spent the last four 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.


Album Review | Alternative F̷acts V/A - A Shoegaze Resistance Compilation (DKFM Shoegaze)

ARTIST: Alternative Facts V/A

RELEASE: A Shoegaze Resistance Compilation

RELEASE DATE: 17th March 2017

RECORD COMPANY: DKFM Shoegaze

Normally we don't cover compilation releases here at Primal Music. And it takes something really, really worthwhile and selfless for us to commit to reviewing one in full. But every once and a while something truly spectacular arrives in our inbox that is very very difficult to ignore. 'Alternative Facts' is a brand new eighteen track compilation of shoegaze & dream pop artists standing in opposition to tyranny. Half of the musical contributions to this compilation are new and exclusive, never heard before now. All proceeds from this album will be split evenly between Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union & is the brainchild of Cory Osborne (Lightfoils/Panda Riot) & Greg Wilson (DKFM Shoegaze Radio) with support of dozens of talented musicians and graphic artists, and released as the only label issue from our brothers & sisters over on DKFM Shoegaze Radio. The compilation gets it's full release on March 17th 2017 and is available to pre-order right now from dkfmshoegaze.bandcamp.com

This compilation opens up on a high, swirling deftly in a hazy ball of beautiful noise. ‘Whimsical’ have just released their latest sublime long player ‘Sleep To Dream’ via Saint Marie Records and here they unleash ‘Had I Known’ a noisy (previously unreleased) brute that sails effortlessly through growling instrumentation & tumbling waves of reverberation, topped off by the beautiful almost ethereal vocal skills of Krissy Vanderwoude. Up next, Milwaukee based ‘Brief Candles’ have lifted a previously unheard track from their forthcoming new album and supplied it specifically for this very worthwhile compilation. ‘Alarm Fatigue’ jangles and shines like a sonic beacon, filled with beautifully intense driving instrumentation, shimmering vocal lines and brilliantly executed composition. The ever amazing ‘Lightfoils’ appear here too with a huge track entitled ‘Retrace’ featuring Rebecca Scott on vocal duties. This track soars through blissful layers of impressionistic lead lines drenched in resonating reverb & underscored by that rambling bass line. Definitely one of the highlights on this release for me.

San Francisco based Lauren Grubb aka ‘To The Wedding’ takes a track from her brand new soon to be released EP entitled ‘Here And Now’, her first new music since 2014’s immense ‘Silver Currents’ and supplies it solely for this comp. ‘Brightest Light’ growls as it enters earshot trembling on a bedrock of noisy bass frequencies and an explosive percussive attack. Lauren’s vocals are addictively engaging as they meld effortlessly with screaming lead lines and sublime feedback laden instrumentation. The ever brilliant ‘Stargazer Lillies’ have taken time out of a busy touring schedule to record a brand new, never heard before track specifically for this compilation release. ‘Lets Kill Time’ is seriously addictive with it’s droning guitars and swirling instrumentation that deftly circumnavigates that sublime vocal line whilst the immense Californian based husband & wife team of Jenny & Joseph Andreotti aka ‘Fawns Of Love’ bring their dreamy brand of lo-fi shoegaze to bare with a brand new track entitled ‘Please’, hot on the heels of their recently released debut album 'Who Cares About Tomorrow'.

Chicago based ‘Panda Riot’ are primed to release their latest long player ‘Infinity Maps’ sometime in late spring. They have supplied a pre-release track specifically for this compilation and ‘Gold Lines’ doesn’t disappoint. It explodes into earshot held fast in a swirling ball of effervescent guitars and repetitive drum patterns as beautifully executed vocalisations float effortlessly into the ether underscored by throbbing bass lines and brilliant production. Up next, noisy San Francisco based shoegaze/dream pop outfit ‘Balms’ have graciously supplied a previously unheard track entitled ‘Nothing In’, lifted off their forthcoming debut full length release. ‘Nothing In’ sways and drives through streaming waves of explosive instrumentation that gyrates effortlessly around that highly addictive vocal track. This is so good and it leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that ‘Balms’ are definitely ones to watch out for in 2017. Wavy Chicago based ‘Lazy Legs’ are represented here with the shimmering ‘Crush’ a track that boils and rages in reverb laden splendour deftly undercut by that beautifully intense vocal line whilst California based ‘SHEER’ have donated a track from their soon to be released six track EP ‘Psychic Quarry’ penned in for release on April 28th 2017. ‘Room’ swerves into earshot raging blissfully in a tangled sonic ball filled with screaming lead guitars, throbbing bass lines, explosive drum patterns and a stunning vocal track. I’m really looking forward to hearing the full EP in April.

Dan Ballek (Mr. K’s Dream) & Paul Lopez (Spell 336, Sana Obruent) aka ‘Angel Falls’ supply a newly remastered version of ‘Touch The Sun’, a trembling reverb laced piece with steadying percussion, upfront vocals and a soaring chorus line whilst the ever reliable ‘The Foreign Resort’ have handed over the beautifully entrancing ‘Skyline-Decay’ for this compilation and it doesn’t disappoint. Hypnotic synth lines lead you into a false sense of security here and its not long before the band unleash a blistering electronically charged post-punk standard underscored by hazy shoegaze moments and a brilliantly executed vocal performance. ‘AEVE CVE’ is a new side project by Preston Maddox (Bloody Knives, S T F U) and he offers up a brand new track here. ‘Glassrain’ is explosive. It’s a menacing, electronically charged drum & bass behemoth with an undercurrent of growling bass frequencies and delicious sequenced synth lines. It’s fascinatingly euphoric nature will be a shock to most but what I’m really impressed with here is Preston's ability to experiment with different music genres to create brand new sonic adventures to explore.

Seattle based ‘Blackpool Astronomy’ are a band who don’t usually float my boat musically. They are however represented here with a rare alternate version of a track entitled ‘Safe Place’ lifted off their forthcoming new LP penned in for release later in 2017. Up next, the immense Minneapolis based ‘Chatham Rise’ bring their magical brand of psych induced shoegaze/space-rock to the party with a track entitled ‘How Do You Sleep’, a jangling cacophony of woozy reverb laced frequencies that float and twirl through layers of hypnotic instrumentation and gloriously hazy vocalisations. Alaska based ‘A Thousand Hours’ are a band who have peaked my attention of late and I’m on record as saying that at times they remind me of seminal US based outfit ‘For Against’ with their brand of driving post-punk hued shoegaze. For this compilation they give up the brilliant ‘Soon’, a shimmering effervescent piece drenched in reverb and overlaid with stunning vocals, soaring lead lines and throbbing bass frequencies. Definitely a track to float away with and having heard their forthcoming debut album in full I can safely say that it will be on many a music reviewers end of year list for 2017.

The compilations penultimate piece comes from Seattle based experimental noise pop outfit ‘Charlatan’ entitled ‘Still Life’ and it’s lifted off their latest ten track release ‘Supermax’. ‘Still Life’ is brash, angry and atmospheric. It swerves into earshot gyrating wildly in a feedback laden ball of fuzz and sequenced percussion, collectively drenched in stunning reverb. It’s vocals scream anti-establishment with their punk rock leanings, riding a turbulent wave of fizzing electronics. Bloody good stuff if you ask me. The closing track on this mammoth collection comes from the ever reliable Philadelphia based ‘Stellarscope’. ‘This Is How It Ends’ is an exclusive track specifically supplied for this compilation. It screams into the ether in a raging cloud of dissonance and discord. Soaring guitars and pulsating drum patterns envelope the instantly recognisable vocalisations of Tom Lugo, Stellarscope’s now legendary guitarist/frontman thus closing out a very interesting compilation of artists.

Recommended!!! 

5/5

LINKS:

dkfmshoegaze.bandcamp.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney has spent the last four years 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 (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.