RELEASE: Past, Preset and Future
RELEASE DATE: January 23rd 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Self Released
It's been quite some time since we've had any music from brilliant San Francisco based experimental shoegazers 'Echodrone'. Their impressive 2015 released long player 'Five' caught the ear of the venerable 'Saint Marie Records' and marked a significant change sonically for the band. It was released at a time when the resurgent underground scene was booming and shoegaze was a buzz word on the lips of passionate scenesters. It was also met with rave reviews upon release and is still spoken about today as being a landmark album from that year. Now the band have returned with a brand new thirteen track opus entitled 'Past, Preset and Future'. Self -released, this massive compendium of tracks swirls and dances through a multitude of music genres such as shoegaze, dream pop, post-punk, electronica, post-rock and indie-rock with relative ease and is sure to stir up the hearts and minds of the underground faithful once more. The album gets it's full release on January 23rd 2018 and will be available to buy/download from that date via all of the bands usual outlets.
A swirling tremulous drone pulls jangling instrumental progressions filled with shimmering guitars and wide scoped reverberations out into the ether as ‘Threaded Barrel’ unfurls it’s glistening tendrils and reaches out to pull the listener inside. Giddy percussion rides the wave of blissed out sound waves as hazy vocalisations meander in and out of deep laid bass frequencies. Catchy lead lines stick to the sonic concoction like glue as we’re pulled into a marvellous chorus surge and swept away on a wave of beautiful noise. ‘Threaded Barrel’ bounces and moves like clock work and is a massive statement of intent. Up next, ‘Failure’ glides into audible range trapped in a melancholic dream-pop hue underpinned with stunning instrumentation and an immense vocal performance. Chorus parts soar skywards on layers of streaming guitars and pounding drum patterns as the throb of bass envelopes walls of outstanding production. The albums title track ‘Past, Present And Future’ begins with a busy sequenced synth progression that clutches noisy guitars, swirling electronics and a metronomic percussive beat. Electro styled bass lines spiral through the melee instilling a post-punk kind of edge to proceedings thus allowing us to take breath and prepare ourselves for the monstrous instrumental build ahead and it doesn't disappoint. It's sublime, absolutely spellbinding and definitely one of my favourite tracks on the album.
‘Open Your Mind’ swirls into action tumbling through instrumental drones, building slowly and announcing another marvellous vocal track. It’s guitar parts bubble through layers of synth swells, humming bass lines and solid production before exploding into a cacophony of intense noise all wrapped around a stunning chorus progression whilst the opening bars of 'Dystopian Story' has ambient intentions with it’s swirling electronics and twinkling production. It opens up into captivating guitar progressions that swoop and circumnavigate hazy vocalisations as catchy melody filled chord changes and hook laden atmospherics add ethereal like connotations to the entire piece. It is absolutely beautiful from start to finish and I recommend that you pop on some headphones to experience it in full. Up next, ‘Save Me’ begins with punchy post-punk hued guitars before you get sucked into that beautiful vocal and fall head long into pools of heady reverb. Electronic theatrics bubble and dance just below the mix as steady drum patterns keep the tempo just nice allowing cascading synth lines and the addictive throb of bass to wash over you.
‘Below From Above’ has that 80’s post-punk sound reminiscent of ‘The Cure’ or ‘Siouxsie Sue’ but with a modern dream-pop twist. Twinkling electronics meander deep within the mix catching the ear in between vocal breaths as driving guitars, surging synths and reverberating bass notes create a heady sonic brew that is highly addictive and keeps the listener focused on the track whilst ‘Rock Waltz’ uses backwards instrumentation and slow moving production to great effect. The entire track reminds me of early ‘Deus’ and I can’t quite put my finger on wether that’s down to the vocal track, the use of vocal sampling or the overall layering of instruments? Either way it’s a stunning piece of music. ‘Land Of Nothingness’ jangles on a wave of bass frequencies and lo-fi vocalisations. Hi-hat heavy percussion keeps things simple as we weave and bob through shimmering guitars and heady experimental production values building brilliantly through each interconnecting sonic part before unfolding into a blissed out chorus progression with relative ease.
Swirling guitars announce ‘Home’ and we’re again pulled into a mesmerising vocal performance reminiscent at times to seminal USA based dream-gazing outfit ‘Whimsical’. Soaring chorus progressions take your breath away as they glide skywards on streaming jets of beautiful melody, layered guitars, luscious synth and senses tingling percussion whilst ‘Low’ keeps things almost ethereal. Guitars drone effervescently, drenched in reverb and twirling through percussive shakers before pulling trembling guitar progressions into the mix enveloping another fragile vocal line perfectly. It’s another stand out track for me on an album filled with great songs. ‘Abstract Thoughts’, the albums penultimate piece, is a slow moving atmospheric affair with sparse percussion, jangling bass lines, surging synth swells and another beautiful melancholic vocal collectively pinned to twinkling guitar progressions drenched in stunning reverberation whilst the album closes out with ‘Snow Drift’. Ghostly vocalisations ride steady drum patterns and meandering guitar progressions as the pull of deep cascading bass frequencies wrap themselves gracefully around swirling lines of synth. This track explodes into a marvellous cacophony of reverb and noise as the chorus progressions launch themselves skywards into a glistening sonic ether closing out what is another immense compendium of tracks by a band who have been sorely missed from the underground music scene.
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: The Kepler Mission
RELEASE: End Of An Era
RELEASE DATE: November 21st 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Riffs, riffs, riffs… Come and get your riffs! 'End of an Era' is the debut full length release from L.A. based progressive rock outfit 'The Kepler Mission'. From the storming chugs of melodic prog-rock/metal to the small but sweet passages of texturing, 'End of an Era' is the kind of album that sounds as thought it could have been the backing to a mammoth rock opera or theatrical production. The riffs are tight and heavy, the music is pulled together by a sense of momentum and the whole thing delivers imagery straight to the listeners mind. It was released back on November 21st 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via music.thekeplermission.com
End of an Era by The Kepler Mission
‘Totem’ opens the album with a neat crunching riff, before dipping into something quitter and more restrained. The vocals than enter are clean and on pitch, singing lyrics that you would expect to find in a post-rock/prog song. The closing instrumentation is the tracks ultimate highlight… The lowlight however, is the cringe-worthy lyrics at the end of the song, as well as the somewhat generic realms the song touches on. ‘Night Walker’ is much more interesting, the time-signature and suitable voice paints an enjoyable picture for the listener. A beautiful section just around the two minute mark that leads into the chorus captures a great texturing that when utilized by the band, highlights the greatest aspects of their music: their ability on their instruments, and their talent to sequence instrumental passages together. ‘Epona’ opens with chugging guitar and a clever synth and guitar passage that meshes its way over the top, the vocals again sound suitable for the tracks, the lyrics, however, seem to seep back into the cliched tone of ‘Totem’. Around the four minute mark, a reverse breakdown of sorts leads into a chilled out guitar performance, backed carefully by the well written drum backing and the ambience that backs the song up. ‘UFO’ follows a similar trail, the slow burn of the verse, the somewhat moan-y tone of the vocals, the loud and heavier parts.
‘Running Away’ is by far the most interesting track on the second half the release, opening with a massively loud, downtrodden guitar strum and cymbal bash. Followed by a slower more melodic section, the track builds up again and showcases the clean and crisp production of 'End of an Era'. The inclusion of what I believe to be acoustic guitar also makes a noteworthy addition, as does the string-instrument-sounding guitar that dances around in the background of some sections of the song. The lyrics are also much more strong, hinting at a narrative but maintaing the same type of mystic poetic language from previous tracks. The outro, with the high notes of the lead singers pipes meshing well with the crescendo-type mingling of the instruments creates the most awe-inspiring moment of the whole album. ‘As You Wish’ is also a truly enjoyable track, offering a kind of contemplative breath of fresh air: the instruments, light and playful, mix well with the softly powerful vocals. The track also summarises perhaps the strongest characteristic of the album: the performances.
There are certainly elements of 'End of an Era' that somewhat taint its aspirations and thus flattens the heights that the band reach for. Such elements are mainly the lyrical content, the over-produced super clean production, and the same re-used dynamics that mostly occur through the middle of the album. But to say these things tarnish the album would just not be true. For the most part, 'The Kepler Mission' play to their strengths: tight and brilliant performances, well textured songs and a good relationship between the vocals and the other instruments. I’m sure it will appeal to many; its entertaining, its tight and it’s a nice melding of 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.
RELEASE: Courage Reels
RELEASE DATE: 21st April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Morningside Young Team Records
Following on from a handful of well-executed, tight and impressively written EP’s and singles that explored a wide array of genres including traditional shoegaze and much louder feedback ridden noise rock, is the debut full length album 'Courage Reels' from Edinburgh based four piece Wozniak. It’s a heavy, noisy and progressive listen, and one on which the band decides to take full advantage of their instruments, creating several lengthy songs with two or three lines of vocals in it amid riff after riff of sonic noise and what sounds at times to be well-captured jam sessions. Many songs take on this structure; and through it 'Courage Reels' at times sounds anywhere from stoner/sludge metal, progressive rock, shoegaze, dream pop, alt-rock, then throw in a bit of alt-metal and a weird kind of krautrock for good measure and tie them all together in layers of noisy feedback and what you get are tall sprawling arrangements that make Wozniak sound like a ten piece. 'Courage Reels' gets it's full release on April 21st 2017 via 'Morningside Young Team Records' and it is available to pre-order right now in various formats from wozniak.bandcamp.com
Courage Reels by Wozniak
'Courage Reels' opens with the instrumental ‘Shader’ that morphs itself around a heavy stoner metal riff and the gentle tapping of the drums in the background. However, after this introductory riff, the band launch into what sounds more like a traditional shoegaze due to the tone of their guitars and the musical melding between the guitar and the drums. ‘Shader’ takes this form for almost the entire song; jumping from a stoner metal riff into more airy shoegaze passages, all the while masking a background of feedback that compliments the music immensely. Much slower and distant is the shoegaze track ‘Ghosting’ whose form takes the shape of ‘Shader’ in that it jumps from heavy fuzzing back to its mellow origins; coming off as less heavy than ‘Shader’ but more intricate. The slowed, winding parts of the song are soothingly beautiful, masking mood and sound over a distinct form of song writing. ‘Ghosting’ also happens to contain vocals; all five lines of them, so drowned out you can hardly hear them, which actually fits in well with the context of the song. ‘Super Panther’ ties both previous songs together and revisits the more shoegaze sides of the bands sound, implementing fuzz bass and a fantastic drum track over the top of the winding and shimmering guitars that play a demented kind of indie rock. This song also sounds strongly influenced by alt-rock, with its more linear structure and ‘traditional’ riff centred form of song writing on display.
Back in March 2017 the band released the first single from 'Courage Reels', and that single was ‘Perihelion’ which crops up as one of the best tracks on the entire release. It’s a beautiful, trance inducing mix of down-trodden guitar strumming that harkens back strongly to the classic shoegaze sound with swirls of a darker kind of dream pop. The vocal performance here is also fantastic and an album highlight, as well as the instrumentation and backing noise to which the song takes it cues and creations from. Although the song goes for several minutes, the band condense the vocal, quieter and more accessible section of the song to its beginning and then launch into a wild and commendable instrumental section that winds out the second half of the song strongly and passionately. In a similar way is ‘Scottish Dancer’ which blows past the eight minute mark in its form, which is distinctly reminiscent of cold shoegaze, to again show the bands strength in song writing. Scottish Dancer’s beginning, featuring another well produced vocal section, sounds better than ‘Perihelion’ in terms of every aspect of the song fitting swiftly together. Another amazing instrumental outro leads the songs second half, in which background feedback is used as a soundscape style to greatly enhance the songs sound. ‘Natsuko’ returns to a more conventional length and sounds more akin to post-punk than anything else the band touch on 'Courage Reels'. Although its beautiful and holds some impressive moments, I did wonder what its significance in context of the album was, and upon a second listen parts of it tended to sound more like an album filler than anything else.
‘Erebus’ is another true album highlight, perhaps due to fantastic contextual balancing by Wozniak in terms of the track listing on the album. After a few lengthy, heavy and layered songs, the band turns things back to the simple and the minimal, placing the listener’s perceptions upon simple guitar based strumming that goes further to highlight a mesmerizing undercurrent of dream pop-like guitar tones and textures in the mix. ‘Crush’ features the best drumming performance on the album, but unlike the few previous tracks avoids stronger shoegaze elements instead focusing upon a kind of alt-rock type sound, driven by a distant but interesting vocal performance. ‘Death Suit’ turns things back up to the lengthy heights of ‘Scottish Dancer’ and ‘Perihelion’ but with much less conviction. It starts strong, with a neat little guitar intro, but seeps into uneven sections of music that seem to be so far removed from the other that it becomes more of a slog than a listen. However, the six to eight minute section is absolutely masterful and deserves praise for being one of the greatest passages of music on the release.
I must fully admit that I’m a fan of Wozniak, whose style and experimentations in guitar-orientated music have shone through in a fantastic and interesting way through past releases. I especially love the song ‘El Maresme’ which is quite an old song from their fantastic EP Pikes Peak. I say all of this simply because 80% of the music on 'Courage Reels' is less like the bands previous studio EPs and singles; the engaging single 'Harker' remains firmly an alternative shoegaze/dream pop song, so does 'Auster' and its more guitar driven sound. For 'Courage Reels' to feature lengthy, heavy, more straight forward rock arrangements that you could almost always classify as alternative-rock, rather than the hazy dream pop or shoegaze-based musings of their previous efforts is somewhat of a challenge for the listener. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, and we must all congratulate and encourage bands to transform, progress stylistically and traverse new terrain over song writing and performance, but I wonder if 'Courage Reels' is in fact the right kind of progression. It is a fantastic album (as noted by the rating) but ultimately it sounds like a band who are carrying only fragments of their previous skin after shredding it. Personally, as a fan and a listener, I would have loved to have heard more vocals on this instrumentally generous album. Also for some out there, a cover to cover listen would be just too much; the songs are lengthy affairs, the transitions within the songs are at times slightly awkward and the piling of lengthy songs after lengthy songs makes the album feel longer than it is. All of this probably sounds like mad criticism, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, for all of the criticisms of the music I have, there is equal acclaim and admiration for 'Courage Reels'. It is exquisitely well produced and mixed, and the band shines through on every track to display a commitment and a wild sincerity to the well written songs featured on it. These elements amount to a well rounded and impressive album, bundled up fluently in commitment and sound.
RELEASE: You Are Here Now
RELEASE DATE: 21st January 2017
'You Are Here Now' is the debut album from Pennsylvania based atmospheric post-rock outfit 'Heron'. It’s an album that defies the genre in such a way that to describe it to you, the reader, would never do it justice. In fact, I feel that 'You Are Here Now' is one of the best pieces of post-rock music I’ve heard. Perhaps rivalled only by pro bands from Iceland or the fantastically minimalist hush of 'Star of Heaven' and their mini album/EP 'Vinter'. 'You Are Here Now' stands tall through mostly the intense and wild song writing, but has its advantages with the professional mixing and mastering, done so by pros from the Seattle music scene. This, coupled with the smooth and hypnotic performances, make 'You Are Here Now' one of the most refreshing and beautiful post-rock instrumental releases going around.
You Are Here Now by Heron
'You Are Here Now' opens with ‘Shores’, a sensational slow rolling track that may be the best on the entire album. Its simplicity and nostalgic feel give it a fantastic and dreamy quality that adds true emotion to the music. It’s not just a clever note or a chord progression that makes you go ‘aw’; it’s a truly emotive piece of music that begins to build around the three minute mark to encompass a more ‘fuller’ feel. After a few more passages of skilled guitar playing and a return to the original intro passage of music, the band build the song into a transcendent piece of music. Utterly fantastic. ‘Ender’ turns the music back into a more rock orientated sound and utilizes a fantastic and inventive drum and guitar resonance that travels through the undercurrent of the song. Just as ‘Shores’ travelled over the eight minute mark, ‘Ender’ brings in the music to a seven minute epic; dipping and diving with a slow, sweet bass driven section in the middle of the song.
‘Stillness’, another amazing song, begins with the lazy, rear view mirror brilliance that held ‘Shores’ up to a breathtaking point. Its beginning centres on a wavy guitar riff that eventuates into a deeper and more melodic guitar/drum/bass sound. And just like following an alluring circle, the song falls back into its reminiscent tone just in time to lead into another song ‘Drop’, that holds a similar, if not perhaps more minimalist intro. It then climbs higher and more ambitious; its outro seeping into a more intricate vision of its opening. The title track serves as a gentle, low key ambient interlude that still sounds better and more inventive than some regular tracks I’ve heard from other artists before. ‘Archives’ rivals the opener in that it could just well be the best song on the album. Unlike the more relaxed ‘Shores’ the crescendo like ‘Archives’ builds upon itself with several very impressive performances. Sonically, the music bellows out into a musique concrète discussion and noises; showcasing the bands more experimental qualities. ‘Before the War’ is an epic piece of instrumental phrases and passages that lends from the albums previous songs in a brilliant and larger scale pictorial piece of post-rock. The outro especially deserves special mention; its winding, trance like, soulful and heavy presentation makes the song sound even more epic in the context of the album. As a testament to the band, ‘Before the War’ fills all the right fantastic spaces.
After a few listens of 'You Are Here Now' I began to feel like each song on the album is representative of a place, a destination or a feeling. ‘Shores’ and ‘Stillness’ evoke a sunny, cool beach with yellow grained sand and deep blue ocean in a way that dream pop does with its great injection of nostalgia. ‘Archives’ sounds like it could accompany a whimsical train ride through the country side of a picturesque landscape. ‘Before The War’ seems like it somehow captures the mood of a place rather than a geographical place itself. Altogether the album strings these evocations into an almost movie like listening experience… And what a beautiful film it is; packed with things I can’t really write down or capture in mere words. All I can recommend you do is listen to it. And listen to it thoroughly, from the beginning. It’s not really music so much as an experience shining through a vast array of other musical mediocrity to sound cleaner and more pure than most others do. The production is some of the greatest I’ve heard in a while with special praise going to the mixing and mastering. The performances are also top notch, woven into one another to sound as grand and beautiful as post-rock music can. Blah blah blah, go listen to it! For its greatness is of another fantastic standard, achieved through production, playing and 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 the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: Dead Sea Apes
RELEASE: SOY DIOS
RELEASE DATE: 5th September 2016
RECORD COMPANY: SKY LANTERN RECORDS / CARDINAL FUZZ
Manchester based underground psych experimentalists 'Dead Sea Apes' have had their stunning debut single 'SOY DIOS' repackaged and re-released on vinyl via Cardinal Fuzz (Sky Lantern Records in the US). It contains a reworking of the original track, released back in 2010 on a then run of 100 CDR's. 'Dead Sea Apes' create massive sonic soundscapes and have the ability to switch from wonderfully picturesque sun-scorched psychedelia to dust laden desert rock and on into hypnotically charged & motorik driven drone rock improvisation with marvellous aplomb! The album is available to buy/download on various formats from cful.bandcamp.com & skylanternrecords.bandcamp.com. You can also purchase the vinyl right now from cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com
Soy Dios by Dead Sea Apes
The opening salvo's of 'Soy Dios I' are hauntingly good. Aggravated fret noise and spacious atmospherics open proceedings as 'Dead Sea Apes' bring their post-rock credentials to the fore. Melodious guitar progressions add tension as sparse percussive hits enter the fray and we push off on a magical journey of sonic experimentation, stepping into a world of expansive musical understanding and distorted sonic hallucinations. Its not long before a swell of explosive instrumentation takes over and the metronomic swing of the drum pattern brings on a giddying state of hypnotic abandonment. Guitar lines meander menacingly throughout the piece, every so often allowed to soar into the ether as if chasing some unknown prey, before arriving back to terra firma and slotting into its assigned progression to continue on with its pre-designed course. Truly magical in its entirety!
If 'Soy Dios I' was the doorway into the world of 'Dead Sea Apes' then Part II is the hallway .... a wide expansive room filled with oppressive atmosphere, droning swells and spiralling guitar squall. 'Soy Dios II' is a pleasure craft bobbing up and down in a dark tremulous ink like sea, constantly being hit by a wave after wave of shuddering reverberation. The percussion builds as throbbing bass lines hold court before the track lurches forward and explodes into a cacophony of wonderful noise and warbling repetitious progressions.
'Soy Dios III' achingly drones into existence, its burgeoning weight swirling & snarling as it enters earshot, shattering the perilous ideology of the previous soundscape as it circumnavigates its own self. It builds in momentum allowing it to plough a deep furrow into the sonic template, eagerly trying to gain enough updraft to lift itself into the ether. Intermittent fret noise doused in reverb adds atmosphere to the piece as the arrival of much welcomed guitar squall builds intensity .... and we're up and soaring into the ether on waves of golden frequencies inlayed with swathes of reverberation. 'Soy Dios III' is a true masterpiece of modern day psychedelic exploration.
The closing piece on the momentous release brushes aside the previous three tracks from the off. 'Soy Dios IV' is the stunning finale to an expansive collection of experimental musicianship. The culmination of a trip through massive passages of sonic floatation and distorted but oppressive melody driven hallucinations, into a gargantuan cyclonic whirlwind. 'Dead Sea Apes' bring the curtain down completely on this impressive release riding a maelstrom of senses pummelling distorted noise. A fitting end to a marvellous sonic journey. Recommended listening!
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish 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 hepled 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.