ARTIST: Ghost Box Orchestra
RELEASE: High Plaine
RELEASE DATE: May 17th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Evil Hoodoo Records
I’ve been a big admirer of the sounds created by Boston natives ‘Ghost Box Orchestra’ for quite some time . Their collective musical stylings enthralled me from very early on as I repeatedly overplayed their cinematic post-rock hued 2010 debut ‘The Only Light On’, then fell head long into the magnificent dark vortex of 2013’s ‘Vanished’ only to tumble out the other end and crash straight through the reverberating ‘Sound of (Eternal Now)EP' back in October 2015. For me, it’s been a brilliant musical rollercoaster ride of epic proportions and now I’m happy to report that the band have unleashed a brand new full length masterpiece! ‘High Plaine’ was officially released back on the seventeenth of May 2016 via ‘Evil Hoodoo Records’ over in the UK and it is nothing short of immense!
High Plaine by Ghost Box Orchestra
A swirling keyboard drone heralds the arrival of ‘Flutter’, as its tremulous guitars and eerily hypnotic organ progression circumnavigates pounding poly-rhythms & surging swells of reverberating sonic brilliance. ‘Flutter’ builds from its opening notes as the cyclonic musical cacophony urges those Impressive vocal lines to take centre stage happily in the knowledge that they are protected from any outside interference by a raging wall of noise. Let’s not be fooled here people; this is a stunning opening track full of explosive psychedelic promise and worthy of your ears. Up next are howling (but impressive) vocal progressions intriguingly underscored with melodiously repetitive guitar structures and explosive percussive patterns. ‘High Plaine’ opens up into a monstrous musical animal as it weaves its way through swathes of shimmering instrumentation.
The senses are tweaked at the arrival of my favourite track on this entire release! ‘Socrates Burned’ is a monolithic sonic beast that pulses through walls of stunning reverb as those pounding but regimented drum patterns act like bedrock, bearing the full weight of those soaring guitars and its huge swirling synth swells coupled with growling bass frequencies and a piercing vocal attack. There’s a quick reprise of sorts as the remnants of ‘Socrates Burned’ fades into obscurity but its quickly replaced by the calming and refreshing opening bars of ‘Wave Goodbye’. This track is deeply melodic as it meanders through peaks and troughs of glorious golden instrumentation. Cascading keyboard thrills hang suspended just above audible range as ghostly vocalisations litter the reverberating landscape. It’s brilliant guitars shimmer as they stir within a heady brew of steading drum progressions, beautiful synth swirls and impressive throbbing bass lines. Up next is the shuffling ‘Dead & Gone’ with its mesmerising reverb retched vocal chants that seem to hover blissfully on sonic winds like a hunting eagle as all around it the ether rages a sonic war of attrition. Simply stunning! Droning guitars and meandering vocal lines usher in the opening bars of ‘Days Are Forever’ before we’re lifted high above the musical landscape on melodically brilliant wavy guitar lines and pounding drums as the chorus progression explodes into a brilliant cacophony of wonderful noise.
Things are really moving at pace now as ‘Ghost Box Orchestra’ offer up the albums penultimate track! ‘Within The Sound’ is a storming call to arms. It’s pounding drums and rumbling bass frequencies should have a post code all to themselves as they plough a sonic furrow through the entire musical landscape. Add into the mix the raging wall of noise created by the attacking guitars & that soaring vocal line and we have a full on assault on the senses. The albums closing track fades blissfully into ear shot on a swirling mass of droning guitars. ‘Causality Devotional’ floats on angelic frequencies as it works through its sonic gears. It builds brilliantly as it layers each one of its instrumental components at various points along the tracks navigational path. The vocals soar into ear shot on waves of shimmering reverberating frequencies that loop and arc all over the sonic spectrum with blistering aplomb. ‘Causality Devotional’ then builds into a raging maelstrom of noise as it tumbles into its droning finality. This is a stunning track to close out an absolutely stunning album.
Bravo Ghost Box Orchestra!
‘High Plaine’ is available to buy/download right now from: ghostboxorchestra.bandcamp.com
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
RELEASE DATE: May 6th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Sunrise Ocean Bender Records
The brilliant independent record label ‘Sunrise Ocean Bender’ presents a stunning collection of seven tracks by Sicily-based psychedelic explorer ‘JuJu’ (Lay Llamas, Herself) released back on the May 6th 2016. With a stunning sound thats more akin to a pulsating, living organism ‘JuJu’ transcends this modern day psych rock plain bringing with it swathes of rhythmic, almost ritualistic golden frequencies to the ears of its waiting listenership. The album is available on various formats via juju-spell.bandcamp.com
JuJu by JuJu
Driving bass frequencies, riding a wave of panned percussive hits usher in track one, the hypnotically atmospheric ‘Samael’. It’s sequenced drum patterns swirl within the magical maelstrom as it builds into a whirlwind of reverb induced vocal lines coupled with pounding drums and intertwined with suppressive droning guitars. It surges through its chord progressions with apparent ease as wave after wave of sonic frequencies batter the senses and block out any outside influence careering you off its chosen musical path. A stunning entry point into a dynamic world of sonic delight. Track two thunders into the musical arena on a titanic wave of shimmering reverb. ‘We Spit On Yer Grave’ is completely addictive as those plodding synth progressions, cushioning that immense vocal attack, rides a juggernaut of explosive drums, throbbing bass lines and tremulous golden hued guitars.
The metronomic opening bars of ‘Stars And Sea’, my favourite track on this entire release, swerves and moves within a translucent world of shimmering suspended animation as those stunning vocals add an air of atmosphere to proceedings. There’s a subtle but brilliant country chic feel to this track as it meanders its way through peaks and troughs of psychedelic delight. The added eastern sounding percussive hits inject weight and balance but soon make way for an absolutely blistering finale as the track takes off into a stunning cacophony of swirling vocals, swerving synth swells and dark driving guitars. Beautiful atmospheric piano hits circumnavigated by dark oppressive samples announce the arrival of ‘Dance With The Fish’ as immense psychedelically charged synth swells sonically mimic an apparent underwater scene. It’s a beautiful two minute sonic aperitif to what comes next!
A repetitious guitar progression carefully balances a whispering but effective vocal pattern on its axis as ‘Sunrise Ocean’ builds momentum into a charging musical monolith! The tidal wave of sound expands as those droning guitars arrive and plough through the tracks fuzzy interior with aplomb. Add into the mix those driving, addictive bass frequencies and what we have collectively is an absolutely stunning piece of music. The albums penultimate track entitled ‘Lost’ begins with stunning melody courtesy of a repetitive piano sequence. There’s an air of tranquility as the synth swells and drums arrive, adding subtle but firm movement to the track and allowing the vocal samples to loop and arc throughout the reverberating atmosphere. The mood then changes as we shift sonic gears. The drums increase in tempo, coupled with the arrival of a repetitious guitar progression and shakers the entire piece swirls within a beautiful sonic whirlwind!
The albums closing piece is simply magical! Swirling bongos, sequenced samples and droning golden frequencies begin the hypnotic rhythmic mantra as those amazing repetitive vocals shuffle into earshot. ‘Bring ‘Em War’ builds and builds, developing form and shape before unleashing something akin to absolute sonic abandonment! It weaves and bobs throughout and drives a deeply melodic psychedelic furrow right through the centre of the musical landscape! A truly wonderful closing track to a blistering album.
ARTIST: Is Bliss
RELEASE: Velvet Dreams
RELEASE DATE: October 21st 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Club AC30
The brilliant London based independent record label 'Club AC30' have been nurturing some fantastic worldwide artists from the psych/gaze/electronic & dream-pop genres for quite some time now. Their list of rostered artists has brought us some serious heavy hitters such as 'Flyying Colours, Pinkshiunyultrablast and Ringo Deathstarr' to name just a few. Now they've unleashed a veritable sonic triumph is the guise of the debut EP entitled 'Velvet Dreams' by Portsmouth based trio 'Is Bliss'. This band are causing quiet a stir right now within the underground fraternity with their no nonsense, full on, psych induced reverberations! They are made up of Jimmy Stuart - vox/guitar, Dean Edwards - bass & Sam Speakman - drums and they have already graced the stage with the likes of Wolf Alice, Telescopes, Nine Black Alps, Mark Gardener and Robin Guthrie. The vinyl edition of 'Velvet Dreams' (limited to 300) has already sold out over on the record labels website store.clubac30.com so if you missed out on this immense debut EP, then you will just have to take our word for it! It is absolutely magnificent.
The EP opens up with 'Morning Sun', a beautifully effervescent track full of esoteric sound waves and translucent sonic frequencies. Driving percussion and throbbing bass lines hold court as those impressive guitar lines weave effortlessly in and out of haunting vocal progression's courtesy of Jimmy Stuart. 'Morning Sun' surges forward on wave after wave of brilliant reverberation, reminiscent at times to early Verve or Creation Records era Telescopes. Up next, the immense 'Realise' enters into earshot on a steadying drum pattern coupled with a melodious baseline and another impressive lead guitar progression. It explodes stunningly into a cacophony of beautiful noise as it's chorus parts take flight and soar into the ether, all the while circumnavigating that brilliant vocal and those massive walls of guitars just to lead us on merry dance until we're dumped out the other side like a geek at school disco. 'Realise' is absolutely Immense and not for the faint hearted.
'Truth' growls into existence on punctuating bass frequencies and luscious guitar squall before unleashing a huge wall of instrumentation that is just about big enough to carry those 'angry young man' vocal lines! The guitars wail and scream brilliantly as this track launches itself skywards, dragging every single fucking listener with it as the torturous screams of Jimmy Stuart echo into forever. A triumphant track and possibly my favourite on this entire EP, 'Truth' is a sonic call to arms for a society in ruins. The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Ocean Blue' swirls into the ether on an instrumental drone as the drum track winds up and pulses out a metronomic beat, coupled with the underlying swing of tabla, shakers & tambourine hits all enveloped around Stuart's impressive vocalisations. The collective result puts a kind of swirling hypnotic hue on proceedings as those eastern esoteric vibes undulate and meld with cascading sitar, throbbing bass frequencies and those psychedelically intense guitars.
The EP's closing piece is a psych induced monster coming in at eight minutes plus. 'Lure' has a menacing drone creeping down it's central spine as the instrumentation builds and lurches forward on it's pre-destined course. Addictive bass lines and almost prog rock like guitars swim effortlessly in a sea of reverberation as those wailing vocals ride a slow processional drum pattern, meandering deftly and without hindrance. 'Lure' begins to gain momentum now and we're thrown headlong into a maelstrom of effortless instrumentation and immense sonic abandonment with it's pounding drums and screaming lead guitar lines echoing into a raging finale.
If the underground music fraternity are looking for a champion to nail their colours to, they've found it in these five tracks by the brilliant 'Is Bliss' ...... This is music!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: Fire Behaving As Air
RELEASE: Vapour Trail
RELEASE DATE: November 25th 2015
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
There is a haunting air of excitement as I wait for the opening salvos of this debut full length release from Melbourne based droning dream-gazers ‘Fire Behaving As Air’. I’ve been a big fan of this band ever since the release of their debut EP ‘Desire’ back in 2013 & having just recently read excerpts from an interview that the band gave to the brilliant ‘Blog That Celebrates Itself’, I was chomping at the bit to hear the finished album in full. Fire Behaving As Air’s origins began in 2008 by husband and wife songwriters Owen (guitarist) and Beck Lee (vocalist/harmonium), over the seven years the band’s family has grown and morphed to permanently include Chris Compton (lead guitar) & Mark Taylor (drums), as well as numerous guest appearances including players of additional harmonium, tabla, djembe, violin, cello, bansuri, moog, keyboard and trumpet. This latest release ‘Vapour Trail’ explores recurring themes of impermanence in all of its incarnations; loss, sudden destruction, metastasis, evasion, revolution and ultimately, the sublime release through escapism.
Vapour Trail by Fire Behaving As AirThe album opens with an atmospheric guitar progression that creeps between the interplay of light & dark tonal beauty whilst skipping along a musical atmosphere steeped in reverb laden brilliance, erupting in explosive power with the arrival of the absolutely immense vocal abilities of Beck Lee. ‘Silver Tongue’ is a portal to a world of sonic delight. Think Velvet Underground & Nico meets Portishead but turned on its head with a modern twist. Its a stunning opener. Up next ‘To The Seafloor’ has dream-pop aspirations from the off. Again the vocal track catches this listeners ear as it dances & weaves through reverberating guitars & steady shimmering drums. There’s a dark atmospheric edge interspersed with an almost folk like feel, vocally to ‘When She’s Bored She Dies’ & it does just about enough to keep you focused & interested until about 4 minutes in when this track explodes & offers up its inner wailing guitar self. ‘Tolerance’ is a triumphant masterpiece! Having been voted by the listeners of California based DKFM Shoegaze Radio as one of the Top 50 Most Loved Shoegaze & Dream Pop Tracks of 2012 its no wonder that it appears here on their debut full length release. ‘Tolerance’ meanders deftly through layer upon layer of fuzzy reverb laden psychedelic shoegaze & only comes up for air during Beck Lee’s stunning vocal parts. A must have in any true shoegazers playlist. After the heady heights of ‘Tolerance’ the pace slows a little as the band introduces ‘Unconquered’ & ‘Peaceful’. In both of these tracks I’m hearing sporadic ethereal dream-pop inspired flourishes Cocteau Twins style throughout but there’s also a dark droning addictively intense undercurrent that drags them both through peaks & troughs courtesy of Owen Lee & Chris Compton on guitars.
Up next, ‘Ripples’ builds & builds from its inception to its explosive ending whilst ‘Breathe’ is a cumulative charging sonic ball of hazy psychedelic goodness with repetitive vocal progressions, effected guitars & thunderous drum patterns. ‘Watch The World Go Down’ slows the album to a crawl as we listen to Beck Lee’s vocal swim through a wall of reverb & sink into a sea of guitar swells, diminished percussion & effected hallucinogenic instrumentation. This is a wonderful track that will inspire you to dream in colour. Listen to it via headphones, it will blow your mind! 'Mantra' sneaks onto the musical canvass with its throbbing repetitive bass line, snake like shakers & a droning wall of psychedelic sound all intertwined with another stunning vocal performance. There’s a definite 60’s psych feel to this enthralling track that swerves & meanders like a snake hunting its prey. Very cool indeed. The albums closing track ‘One More Winter’ is a tame affair of cinematic instrumentation all entered around a magnificent vocal performance reminiscent of Portishead’s own Beth Gibbons.
As debut albums go this is up there with the best of them. I really love the way ‘Fire Behaving As Air’ skip through various musical genres with aplomb. Their well thought out song structures, blissfully effected guitar progressions & pounding drums coupled with the immense vocal ability of Beck Lee should hold them in good stead with shoegazers, dream poppers & psych aficionados alike. ‘Vapour Trail’ gets its official release on November 25th and its a major recommendation from us. Go get it!
4.5 / 5
Fuzz Club debutants & Mexican natives 'Has A Shadow' have announced the second single to be lifted from their forthcoming (January 18th) full album 'Sorrow Tomorrow'. This latest track entitled 'Vampire Kiss' deftly follows on from their rather impressive lead track 'The Flesh' and it carries with it their brand of dark and ritualistic modern psych that is absolutely steeped in menacingly addictive gothic vibes.
What hits you fist upon hearing 'Vampire Kiss' are the brash & scuzzy guitars that swirl deep within a dark haze of reverberation. You really have to check yourself as those throbbing bass frequencies & thunderous drums dance and swing a hypnotically charged jig, effortlessly circumnavigated by those hauntingly good organ lines and the foreboding vocal tones of Daniel Garciano. This is seriously good stuff.
As usual the full album will be available to pre-order very soon via fuzzclub.com
ARTIST: Great Black Night
RELEASE: Lift Those Hands
RELEASE DATE: 4th October 2016
Back in 2015 we championed a band who had created a wonderfully melancholic three track release called 'The Smoke Is Rising'. Back then we heard a plethora of beautifully entrancing sounds lifted from a shed full of music genres including shoegaze, alt-rock, post-punk and dream-pop emanating from every single note that was played by this impressive Michigan based collective of artists. 'Great Black Night' push sonic buttons that not many bands can do in this modern day overly saturated underground music scene. The band are made up of Steve D - guitar & vocals, Matthew Eastman - drums & piano, Angel Hayden - vocals, Anne LaGrand - cello, Patrick Schaafsma - violin and Andy Stob - bass and their latest six track masterpiece entitled 'Lift Those Hands' has completely floored us all over again.
Lift Those Hands by great black night
'Lift Those Hands' opens up with the sonically sublime 'Do What You Were Born To Do'. Impressive fuzzed out guitars underscored by steadying percussion, throbbing bass frequencies and impressive hooks create an incredible bedrock that holds up a stunning duel vocal attack. 'Do What You Were Born To Do' floats effortlessly on a wave of reverberation as it meanders through its chosen sonic course. Up next, 'Stalker' open with a traditionally sounding post-punk bass line thats brilliantly intertwined with that (always impressive) 'Great Black Night' string section. We’re then introduced to a wall of reverb laden guitars, thundering drums & throbbing basslines caressing another brilliant vocal arrangement. Track three floats into the musical arena on soaring lead guitar lines and hi-hat heavy percussion. It's 'Pixies' esq baseline holds court as Steve D unleashes a vocal line that even 'Echo And The Bunnymen' would be proud of. 'Whisper' is absolutely stunning from start to finish.
'Spit You Out' drones into earshot on a melody driven baseline that builds intensely circumnavigated by a undulating lead guitar progression. Vocally reminiscent at times to early 'Verve' crossed musically with 90's rockers 'Pearl Jam', 'Spit You Out' grabs you from the off and deftly spins you around in circles before unleashing a blistering wall of reverberation that seems to compliment that duel vocal immensely. The EP's penultimate piece is a joyous affair filled with expertly exercised musicianship. The EP's self-titled track menacingly undulates on a lazy drum pattern coupled with the constant throb of bass frequencies and a totally immersive duel vocal that sucks you into the track and focuses its attention on only you the listener, regardless of whats going on around it. It's seriously stunning and worthy of your ears. The EP's closing track entitled 'We're All Beautiful' is a sonic call to arms. Driving instrumentation and those totally recognisable vocal tones introduces you to just what 'Great Black Night' can unload musically. Totally explosive and immensely impressive, 'Great Black Night' can do absolutely nothing wrong.
'Lift Those Hands' is available to buy/download right now from gbnlovesyou.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: The History Of Colour TV
RELEASE: Something Like Eternity
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RECORD COMPANY: Cranes Records / Weird Books
On 'Something Like Eternity', the very crux of genres like post-punk, experimental music, dream-pop and shoegaze are brought to the forefront and laid bare in their characteristics by The History of Colour TV, a Berlin based experimental/alt-rock band. As they do this, they throw into the mix their own brand of indie and punk rock stylings (which have been explored on their previous two albums) to create something that all together sounds like an attempt to push alternative music in a different direction… To try and squeeze something more from sound, song writing and performance.
'Something Like Eternity' opens with the impressive ‘Granite Verge of Tears’ which sees the band utilising a more post-punk sound with some sort of garage stylings. Occasionally the songs ease back into simple guitar playing before jumping back into indie-stylised riffs. ‘Broken Trip’ acts as an extension of this; there is more of a jangle rock sound and the whole mood of the song seems lighter. Much as the opening track, the song dips deep back into a unrestrained dark section of music at places in the song, which gives it several different faces and ways of interpretation. The second half of the song features the crunch of background fuzz and noise; another wind back to the wild west of garage and noise rock. ‘Wreck’ seems slight in light of the previous tracks. Its guitar and drum play is enjoyable but it comes across as overly simple and never really reaches any substantial heights or points of engagement until a loud and wild section near the outro of the song. The lyrics become pointless because of the dry and relatively unimaginative style of the vocals, which sort of wander into the backing instrumentation and become too distant. Thankfully the band somewhat redeem themselves with the colourful and loud ‘Everything That Stood Still’, a track that plays around simple guitar plucking coupled with a drum pattern that leads into the loud and brilliant chorus riff. Credit should also be given to the fantastic outro on this song; a truly spacey and fantastic piece of music. While only meant to be some sort of interlude, ‘Overcast Half’ is a brilliant tiny piece of experimental feedback, mild distortion and FX filtered sounds. And it should be noted it fits very well in the scope of the entire album.
‘Even Rain’ has mesmerisingly beautiful slow passages of guitar picking which are then fluctuated by the banal passages of ‘emotive’ singing and louder instrumented sections. The band play upon more of an alt-rock style of music and this is complimented greatly by a small synth lead in the second half of the song; lending to a more post-punk style of sound. The lyrics again seem almost forced sometimes and I feel like I was concentrating on the music for the most part because of this.
The albums highlight is the alt-rock/noise infused ‘Wait’ which showcases the bands strongest points; the crunch of garage styling with noises and screeching in the background that make for fantastic song writing. The performances are at almost the highest point on the album for this song and the outro of feedback and noise is a complimented element that really wraps the song together for the listener. Another brilliant song follows; the echoed and quiet ballad like structured, ‘Flame’. This, like passages of other tracks is built upon the slow turn of a guitar riff and excellent playing by the band. On this track the vocals are highlighted and make for a quality part of the song, rather than being altogether bland. This song is followed by another riveting song entitled ‘Pattern’, which presents a fuller and more frontal side of the band with keyboards and a much lighter tone than the rest of the album. The songs greatest element is the chugging guitar riff that blends into the outro and into; you guessed it, more noise and feedback on the songs second side.
Across this entire effort, with a retrospective gaze into History Of Colour TV’s back catalogue, I feel this album to be some sort of drafted attempt at creating experimental or ‘different’ music. Sometimes it sounds like the band believe if they throw some feedback in then it will be considered experimental or somewhat avant-garde. Let’s hypothetically pretend there was no noise on the album… What do you have? A non-offensive alternative rock/indie/post-punk album with dark themes and some pretty impressive performances. For these songs act as post-punk, alt-rock tunes cooked down into simple draft structures with guitar, bass, drums, vocals and keyboard; no audio tricks, no mixing enhancements to make the songs sound deeper and darker and even perhaps more conceptually pleasing. As a result, the album drags and drags; yes there’s a song here and a song there that somewhat redeem the bands ‘signature’ sound but beside that the listener, at times, feels like yelling ‘we get it already!’ Also, past releases from the History of Colour TV compared with this material puts these songs into a whole other awkward light.
But that’s not to say the album doesn’t have highlights or well written and performed songs. The second half of the album saves its weaker points in many ways; showcasing a more alternative style of music than the opposing. The performances are impressive on the most part, especially the guitars and the drumming. The mixing shines in the more full production, but praise should be given to it for sections with just guitar and vocals where it shines. Altogether the band create an interesting album, through these avenues of production, mixing and sound.
'Something Like Eternity' gets it's full release in early 2017 via Cranes Records / Weird Books. The bands latest single 'Wreck' is out now and available to buy/download from: thehistoryofcolourtv.bandcamp.com
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: Daniel Land
RELEASE: In Love With A Ghost
RELEASE DATE: November 25th 2016
The well-travelled transition of lo-fi, simple and sloppy production and mixing into well-produced, fluent and full production is often one that tends to place song writing, musicality and instrumentation at the background of importance. Bands and artists bath senselessly in the pool of sounding and appearing magnificent and sort of forget to be magnificent. A man who has somehow jumped this very preverbal shark is Daniel Land. His albums were never lo-fi per say, but his latest album In Love With A Ghost is so well produced and neat sounding that he seems to have made that aforementioned transition, and he has done so with style and talent on full display. A gracious and stylized effort, In Love With A Ghost throws a crisp nu-pop sound, alternative rock undertones, shoegaze melodies and the fantastically solemn tinkering’s of downtown jazz into one collective effort; ultimately it’s an album that demands to be respected in its substance, content and dazzlingly appearance.
In Love With A Ghost by Daniel Land
In Love With A Ghost opens with the piano laden alternative pop tune ‘You & Me Against The Sky’ that showcases the spacy and impressive production that features on the entire album. The songs post-punk inspired double snare tap contrasts Lands soft voice which gives the song a beautifully dream pop aesthetic. This notion is reinforced with the synths that play throughout the chorus of the song and the piano that acts as the foundation of the song and instrumentation. The tracks greatest element is the saxophone that creeps in and plays in an appealingly whimsical style that eventually seeps into the outro; a beautiful and melodic piece of music. ‘Holes On the Dancefloor’ follows with a more electronic and soundscape tone similar to Lands previous recording efforts, but continues the pop sensibility expressed on the opening track by still incorporating the distant sound of piano. Land exercises his skill of writing catchy but alternative chorus lines and lyrics with the chorus on this very song; featuring a small but notable vocal performance that climbs in a reflective way to the instruments. ‘Everyone's Got A Guy Garvey Story’ continues the piano balladry style of the previous two tracks but in a more up tempo styling. The highlight of such a song is the clever lyrical content; featuring referential and introspective lines that dance along with the swinging, up tempo beat of the drums. While the following track, ‘The Sweetest Lover’ doesn’t quite connect the same way previous tracks do, one must admire what is actually going on in the song and the instrumentation. The swing style drum beats, the layers of guitar and perhaps most interestingly, again; Land’s skilful vocal delivery.
One of the highlights of the album is the fantastic, jazz inspired ‘New York Boogie-Woogie’ which melds Land’s instrumentation with a dreamy shoegaze styled soundscape in the background. The song plays along at its own pace; drawing a picture in your mind with Land’s lyrics and then the utterly skilled saxophone (in a tone reminiscent of the opening track) that joins the instruments in the outro. ‘Saints With His Mercy’ is the closest Land comes to complete and utter dream pop on the entire album; but this is a good thing. It offers a crossover of the musician’s pop aesthetic and the dream tones of keyboards and guitars that results in a dancehall style pop song… Yes, by dancehall I mean like borderline reggae; thus, the song sounds at times experimental in its wild mix of danceable drum patterns but husky and echoed elements of dream and shoegaze. The ultimate ballad, ‘Whistling Gypsy’ again displays Land’s mesmerizing vocal delivery, but this time offers a more minimalist backing; with distant, sliding guitars. Another top moment on the album is the outro to this song; beautiful, entrancing and somehow calming in its musicality.
The title track lends itself to a lengthy, shoegaze intro that melds into a swell drum machine pattern that crosses into the opening of ‘The Beautiful Room is Empty’; which rounds up all of the albums sound and song writing traits into one enthralling piece of music. Again, Land creates an outro that really one could not speak highly enough of if they tried.
In a way, this album is some kind of warped pop album, even an experimental pop album perhaps. And this very fact makes it an interesting listen… But let’s assume that it wasn’t so alternative; it would still be an engaging and greatly enjoyable listen. And this is where Land demands some kind of greater perspective or respect with this album; it is so *expletive word* difficult to make a pop album, whether that be pop rock, alt-pop, soft pop blah blah, that is different, fascinating and at least somewhat original that so many artists just end up drowning in clichés and step by step musical characteristics. Land’s album is obviously far from the delirious pop of the mainstream but it is a mostly pop orientated album whose songs centre on all things piano, drums and the art of the voice.
The production is top notch; clean, precise and echoed to compliment Lands vocals and the music’s distinct sound and style. Mixing is of a similar quality; every piece of string plucking, vocal chanting or murmuring and drum tapping can be heard in a polished and clean way; even when it is in the background of the song. Perhaps the greatest element of the album, beside the song writing itself, is the performances exhibited wherein. While all the instruments are truly brilliant, I feel Land himself delivers one of the best performances on the album vocally. This is a dreamy, original and somewhat experimental piece of pop music, built on the genius of performance, production, song writing and sound.
'In Love With A Ghost' gets it's full release on November 25th 2016 and is available to pre-order right now from: danielland.bandcamp.com
RELEASE: Existence Is Futile
RELEASE DATE: 16th June 2016
Nestled deep within the Irish Republic’s rugged northwestern periphery and held fast in a belief that sonic experimentation across many different musical genre’s is the only formula needed to express artistic freedom in todays overly diluted and increasingly crass home grown independent music scene, resides one of the best modern day experimental psych-gazing collectives to ever have graced this fair isle, led by the charismatic & multi-lingual Robert Mulhern and a rag tag bunch of instrumental geniuses. ‘Tuath’ mesmerised the musically saturated underground back in March 2015 with their intensely addictive & deeply experimental debut EP ‘An Taobh Tuath(Ail)’ closely followed by their immense spaced out single ‘Amhairc Thart Ort Fein’ in September of the same year. Now the band have returned with a blistering four track EP entitled ‘Existence Is Futile’, penned in for digital release on the 16th June 2016 and is absolutely jam packed full of experimental dreamscapes that skip from serine psych-rock to blissfully dreamy shoegaze and on into expressive jazz fusion coupled with swirling hypnotic progressive rhythms.
Existence is futile by Tuath
Tuath’s broad musical foundations are brought to fore on the EP’s self-titled opening track and we’re soon introduced to a swirling trip hop inspired percussive swagger thats inherently intertwined with massive swathes of reverb, purposefully unleashed to hold a protective sheen around those hazy vocal lines before the brilliantly hypnotic guitar progression takes hold and carries the entire track into its shimmering finality. A stunning opener! We’ve no time to take stock however as the glorious opening salvos of track two, ‘Who Do you Want Me To Be’ enters into audible range and introduces us to a swirling maelstrom of melodic guitars, brilliantly executed flurries of cascading Saxophone, steadying drum patterns and Mulhern’s instantly recognisable vocal. Possibly my favourite track on this entire release ‘Who Do You Want Me To Be’ is mesmerisingly good and worthy of a single release going forward! ‘Take Refuge’, the EP’s penultimate track screams into the sonic ether and unleashes reams of golden psychedelic ripples that pulsate into the musical atmosphere, all held fast to shimmering guitar progressions, pounding drums and another magnificent vocal display. Tuath’s creative wall of sound is exacerbated by flourishes of expressive saxophone swirls that seem to mimic the guitar progressions – like for like, building layer after layer of melodic sound waves until we’re left with one big immovable sonic force. Deliciously addictive, if you ask me, and a track that sends out a big bold statement of intent to the entire Irish psych-gazing fraternity!
Dark, creeping guitar squall coupled with a throbbing melodic bass line ushers in the EP’s closing piece, the menacingly good ‘Poll’. This track undulates like a venomous snake on the hunt, winding its way along a sandy psych induced wasteland as those tempestuous guitars build exponentially through its verse progressions and explode into the chorus parts thus unleashing a cacophony of smooth sax progressions, pounding drums and swirling reverb drenched guitars! There are subtle hints of 70’s progressive krautrock, late 80’s trash metal, space-rock and 90’s alt-rock circumnavigating the overriding psychedelic maelstrom as ‘Poll’ moves through its sonic gears with mesmerising aplomb. ‘Poll’ is sublime and a stunning bookend to a blistering EP from a band who continue to amaze!
Recommended Listening …….
ARTIST: Belle Mare
RELEASE: Heaven Forget
RELEASE DATE: 30th September 2016
Brooklyn dream poppers Belle Mare have recently self-released their confident and really wonderful debut album Heaven Forget. They inhabit the same dreamy electronic spaces as bands like New Order, The Cure, and Cocteau Twins, to name just a few.
Heaven Forget by Belle Mare
Opening track 'Georgia' uses moody synth along with Amelia Bushell’s reverb speckled vocals to great effect. Imagine if The Cure had a female singer and you are only getting started. The follow up tune 'Cicada' is extended and gorgeous, containing equal parts Beach House and Radiohead in its soaring textures. Just lovely! 'Every Night' is conversational and intimate, with a bright, jazzy buzz to propel it along. 'How Much Longer' proudly trots out its New Order influence, with synths and metronomic percussion front and center. Amelia’s voice floats over it all like a skein of silk, through which you can view the wonders of the world.
'Dark of My Evening' is entrancing with warm washes of organ that slowly builds in intensity. It is stuffed full of catchy riffs and Amelia sounds particularly fine here. 'Ghostly' is another stunner, and all sonic elements mesh together effortlessly. Amelia’s ethereal vocals are woven into the melodic fabric, and it all works in perfect synchronicity. 'Rehearsed Lines' runs along the same introspective, melancholy lines as Lotte Kestner, while 'All This Time' dials up the energy a bit and bursts through your head in trippy bursts of color. Amelia hums on parts of this, and it’s a fun trip. 'Feel You Against My Heart' dwells in darker spaces populated with chilly synths, only alleviated slightly by Amelia’s airy vocals. 'In the Fall' is the lengthy coda to this bright, elegant, and beautiful record. Recommended for anyone who enjoys savory dream pop with touches of psych and even jazz to sweeten the pot.
'Heaven Forget' is available to buy/download right now from: bellemare.bandcamp.com
Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence". At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and 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.