ARTIST: Ruins! Ruins!
RELEASE DATE: 10th August 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fluttery Records
The rumbling sound of a deep but somewhat cinematic cello, backed by the rumbling march-beat of a drum and the occasional strum of a guitar opens up the wondrously bizarre carnival of music and sounds created by Russian natives Ruins! Ruins! A band who dwell somewhere in the Siberian forest. To accompany this contextual imagery of forests and the wild where the band reside is their own free form, dirty, heavy and dissonant brand of post-rock. I wish to clarify that when I say post-rock, I mean the furthest thing away from the ambient tinkerings and soundscape-backed light drone music that has come to represent the genre. Rather, Ruins! Ruins! project sludgy, progressive rock style ‘big’ riffs that are contrasted with passages of cello based, string music and playing of the utmost beauty. Together, these elements make their album Mammock a truly engaging deep dive into what can achieved in post-rock music with a bit of grit, distortion and experimentation.
Mammock by Ruin!Ruins!
‘Serene’ opens the album with the cello/drum/guitar sound that I begun the review with, operating as a neat intro to the heaviness and raw-rock sound of the album. ‘Hurricane’ captures the essence of the whole album: large, crunching and dirty, with several shifts in tempo and style to create balance along the way. Around the three minute mark, the music notably slows down to a fantastic chug of guitars and cello interlocked together before diving back into a wide scale of the songs origins. ‘Distress’ turns things even heavy and features some of the greatest textural blending on the whole release, especially towards the end of the song. ‘Grab’ opens with the feedback echo of a guitar and a drum beat that welcomes in a catchy bass line. Just as you think Ruins! Ruins! are going to turn it up again and go full on, crunch-down with their drums and guitars, they instead slow down and turn the song into a tight display of rhythm. ‘Arch’ sways on for over twelve minutes, and what first sounds interesting and appealing slowly turns into a slog through the preverbal mud. There are indeed interesting and perhaps even beautiful moments on the song, but its lengthy and overblown running time becomes exceptionally tiresome, especially with a middle section that is built around already explored territory. A brief dance with the china symbol just before the ten minute mark makes the last section the most enjoyably fascinating over the course of the entire song.
‘Kurta’ proves to be one of the albums highlights: its textural cresecendos are made all the more rewarding when the vast and wide prog breakdowns are backed by more ambient, sound scaped guitars. The drumming (as well as the other instruments) are of a strong and rewarding quality also. Chucking another over eleven minute song onto an already lengthy album is ridiculously game, but thankfully ‘Szorstki’ is a different beast altogether. Opening quietly and with a slow-burn progression into a much louder and more full sound, the song captures the essence of what fantastic progressive rock should be: tight, loose and a step-by-step journey into engaging sounds. ‘Collumns’ is the opposite: over six minutes of throughouly monotous down-strumming ‘hard’ rock. ‘Polynya’, however, is another fantastic track and definitely yet another album highlight. The border line black metal-esque opening receeds into long, slow, and downtrodden guitar scapes that build up again with the assistant of tight and melodic drumming.
'Mammock' is an interesting mixed bag of sounds. Sometimes its bordering on feats of alternative and prog-metal, other times it shows the listener nothing more than beautiful cello and tight yet simplistic drumming. The underlying genre of the whole release, however, is that chuggy-chug-chug-chug prog rock sound… Which becomes tedious as easily as it becomes interesting. The first half of this album is a fascinating exercise in dirty, open ended prog and post-rock musings, but by the time the second half of 'Mammock' rolls around, things start to feel a bit on the tiresome side. I completely have nothing against lengthy songs or lengthy albums, but where fantastically original bands such as WTCHS and My Invisible Friend triumph in their extended adventures through sound, Ruins! Ruins! don’t alter things quite enough to keep themselves in the ball game. Similiarly, they don’t keep it avant-garde or experimental enough to justify their song writing choices. Of course, there are redeeming features throughout the album: almost the entire first half is enjoyable and engaging and select songs thorugh the second half retain this neat and original flavour. Also the performances are of a fantastically strong quality, balancing the enjoyable production with a heavy yet melodic sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: Artificial Waves
RELEASE: Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.
RELEASE DATE: 18th May 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fluttery Records
If you like everything icy, chilled, nice, polished and reflective in its purity, look no further than the post-rock/ambient textures of Artificial Waves. Their latest album, tongue-in-cheekily entitled 'Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.', captures the mood and atmosphere of a period in the late nineties when post-rock seemed less interested in pushing the outer boundaries of contemporary music but more focused on dwelling upon a kind of conceptual structure acute to post-shoegaze; longer songs with downtrodden elements but larger and louder sections to bounce back to. But while 'Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.' is definitely clean and polished, these facts only help in its intentions and presentations. For every guitar-based riff-centred track there appears the subtle sounds of violins and keyboards, synths and ambient soundscapes. It’s true; it is difficult to find a song on this album that doesn’t have layered sound behind it; whether this be another instrument or just the tone and FX on the guitar. An interesting and engaging listen for fans of post-rock, and those seeking something a little more sonically interesting than your generic instrumental rock release. The album was officially released back on the 18th May 2017 via Fluttery Records and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from artificial-waves.bandcamp.com
Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic. by Artificial Waves
‘From Blur to Sharp’ opens the album as a kind of intro; big, loud drums play over the top of ambience and a small keyboard sound; eventually the entire band appear and the song unfolds in a heavy, riff-orientated way. Was it a clever idea to include this song? Well, I’ll let you be the judge, but there seems to be something of a lesser-than quality on this opening track in comparison to other tracks. I found myself wondering whether the rest of the album was going to be the same atmospheric guitar-orientated ‘rock’ sound. And although it’s a simple intro song, it does little to capture the true essence of the album when one has listened to the other tracks. The almost seven minute ‘Blended Spirits’ follows with what borders on an alt-metal sound; chugging guitars, breakdowns and loud guitar backed music. As the song goes on it becomes more and more engaging, with the high point been around the middle section where a downtrodden guitar plays a shoegaze-like riff, accompanied by a beautiful melody and the thick bass/drum sound. One of the best tracks on the album ‘Living in A Recycled Space’ plays with dynamics and a more math inspired sound. The inclusion of samples and electronics alongside the heavy drums/bass/guitar passages on the song do wonders for the atmospheric/conceptual quality of the song. A programmed drum beat and piano carries the song beautifully also.
‘Rising Soul’, which served as a single for the album, provides a beautiful swathes of melodic post-rock; the entire band come together to produce a less dynamically alternative song but a much more linear sounding piece of ambience. Similarly, ‘Hush and Embrace’ is as equally as impressive, but much quieter. The song relies more on the quiet ambient passages and guitar laced soundscapes than any large pounding drums could muster. ‘Bored Shadows’ seems to be a mixture of the previous two tracks with its gentle start but seemingly heavy second half. The inclusion of what sounds to be either sampled or programmed drums also make things seem even more wavy and architecturally post-rock. The subtle influence of shoegaze also continually sneaks in on all three tracks to a point of interest and engagement. The airy and most atmospheric song on the second half of the album is the brilliant ‘Inspiring Insomnia’ which at the two minute mark features a chugging breakdown with subtle yet stylistically intricate keyboard sounds. A special acknowledgement goes to the drumming on this track; involved enough to be noticed but not arrogantly over the top as to alter the limelight from the other instruments. In the second half of the song, things return to the alt-metal style explored on the start of the track. A small interlude, entitled ‘Inception’, leads the way into ‘Feeling the Endless Flow’ which is the albums lengthiest song. In terms of other tracks on the album, it lacks their magic, charm and continuity; it’s perhaps the most linear in terms of genre and its one of the loudest songs on the release. That’s not too say it doesn’t have it’s strengths; the guitar playing is strong and impressive, as is the unified sound between the players and their instruments.
As far as instrumental albums (of any genre) go, there is one real question that impinges on the critical reaction and reception, as well as interest shown by audience, of the release. This question is whether, without vocals or lyrics, the band or artist can keep it interesting enough to hold attention for the whole release. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule: think of those classic albums released throughout the 60’s and 70’s that are three tracks long (all of which go for 25 minutes) featuring lengthy guitar wanking and keyboard solos on and on. Or perhaps music generally classified as sound art, which generally may go on for hours without anything resembling a major chord progression. I am a fan of both these exceptions, but with these exceptions application to the question at hand, both classic albums and sound art/experimental pieces have one thing on their side: contextualisation. 'Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.' has the task of maintaining interest on its own; without information or contextualisation to back it up in its decisions. This boils down to the question; does the album keep interest up for its entire duration; the short answer is not particularly, but the full answer is different altogether. The album, for the most part, remains interesting purely through its song writing; the softer and more ambient tracks stand out in this sense. As for the production and mixing; it is stellar… crisp, clean and sparkling in its recording and presentation. In regards to the aforementioned question; there are guitar-centric passages of songs that become over long and tiresome at times. The first half of the album more so than the second half features too many over long passages of ‘basic’ alt-rock. Although these sections of music are minor, and overall there is something wholly satisfying about the album; a kind of conceptual element that ties it all together, mainly through production, song writing and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: Sounds Of Sputnik
RELEASE: New Born feat Ummagma
RELEASE DATE: 16th May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Moon Sounds Records
When I first heard that two powerhouses of the underground post-rock, electronic shoegazing & dream-pop scene were collaborating on an album I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. In fact, I was overjoyed! After all it is a musical match made in heaven in my opinion. I was surprised, though, to read that it was going to be Sound Of Sputnik’s debut album because I’d been listening to Sound Of Sputnik for a long time, playing them on Primal Radio and up until now foolishly thinking that they had a back catalogue of albums to peruse at my leisure. Boy was I wrong! Moscow-based Sounds Of Sputnik is the brain child of Roma Kalitkin, a close collaborator of UMMAGMA, influenced by My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Ride & Sonic Youth but with a style closer to Mogwai or Air Formation. What I had been listening to were stunning soundscapes written as a group of tracks but never actually released as an album! I’m talking about electronic, post-gazing soundscapes like: Astronomical Summer, Adaptation, The Mission & Motoroller!
New Born by Sounds of Sputnik
It was then that I had one of those ‘light bulb lighting up over head moments’. I got giddy & I simply had to hear what these two bands could conjure up together musically! So when I received my copy of the album to review what I found was a musical masterpiece! Yes the trademark Sounds Of Sputnik post-rock & shoegazing soundscapes are still there but there is an added injection of something rather special. You see to me I’m amazed at how a collection of musicians fixed on the same trajectory with the same drive & abilities can create brilliant musical ideas and get the best results imaginable in the most harshest of atmospheres! You see ‘New Born’ is groundbreaking on many levels musically but it’s the fact that Roma Kalitkin, Alexx Kretov & Shauna McLarnon managed not only to initiate this project but co-write & record it under what must be a whirlwind of unpredictable political turmoil in Kretov’s home country of Ukraine thats the most amazing thing! And collectively they don’t disappoint!
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past twelve months you would have read or heard about Ummagma, the Canadian / Ukrainian electronic, dream-pop duo of Shauna McLarnon & Alexx Kretov and their stunning albums UMMAGMA, Antigravity & Lama Remixes LP on which Sounds Of Sputnik created a remix of Lama, another epic Ummagma track and their latest Moon Sounds Records released ‘Frequency EP’. What Ummagma bring to this collaboration is the vision of vocalist, producer/musician Alexx Kretov and the absolutely stunningly beautiful vocal abilities of Shauna McLarnon. Mixing melodic dream-pop with electronic shoegaze, they add their life’s blood to this record and you can hear it in every track that they feature on! From the blistering lead track ‘New Born’ with Shauna McLarnon on vocals through to the brilliant dream-pop/shoegaze laden ‘Light Scheme’ featuring Kretov & McLarnon on duel vocals and on into the epic Sounds Of Sputnik’s post-rock, gaze heavy ‘Blizzard’ & ‘Shades Of The Cosmos’ this album plays effortlessly from track to track! Add into the sonic melting pot the pulsating, thundering ‘Overdrive’ featuring none other than Graham Bonnar (Ex Swervedriver/Brian Jonestown Massacre ) on drums & McLarnon on vocals & what we have is a must have album for anyone who adores everything thats good within the electronic, post-rock, dream-pop & shoegazing genre’s without the frills!
‘New Born’ also feature’s remixes of both ‘New Born’ & ‘Light Scheme’ by Malcom Holmes of legendary Synthpop group OMD, Oleg Mezherovsky & Morozov, Roma Kalitkin himself & Brazil’s Mind Movies!
The album was released on May 16th through the Texas based independent label ‘Moon Sounds Records’ and is also available on various formats through: soundsofsputnik.bandcamp.com/album/new-born
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.
Artist: Lava Lite
Release: Lava Lite EP
Release Date: 23/04/14
Record Company: Unsigned
Lava Lite are a Shoegaze/Dream Pop band, formed in Saint-Petersburg, Russia in 2011. They are: Sergenty Timoshenko - guitar, keys & vocals, Nikita Tarakanov - guitar & keys, Paul Kostyaev - bass & Eugene Kulikov - drums, percussion & backing vocals. This band have slipped under the shoegazing radar but from the very first listen it sound's to me like they've put their boots on, kicked down the door & unleashed a mesmerising whirlwind of beautiful shimmering shoegaze on their latest 5 track, self-titled offering. We've chosen 3 tracks from this EP and you can read what we thought of them below:
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'Fear Of Silence', the first incredible track on the EP, with guitar nods to nirvana and bass lines similar to the ilk of dare I say it - 'Twiggy Ramierez'(Marilyn Manson) circa 1996, it's also got the fire of the smashing pumpkins! Check it out:
[bandcamp width=100% height=42 album=1665240877 size=small bgcol=333333 linkcol=e32c14 track=2347858505]
Track 2- 'Have You Ever', is somewhere between 'Waterfall' by 'The Stone Roses' & 'Kevin Is Gay' by 'Giant Drag'. This song meanders on a little bit and is by no means the best offering to the shoegaze gods but it is a solid second track. The one thing I really like about this track is the vocal line as it sears around the tracks like water around a stone in a running river.
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On 'Can't You See', the third track on this epic EP we are treated to sparse bass lines, octaving smoothly as if they were lounging around in a funk track. It has an energy to it thats similar to the 'Brian Jonestown Massacre' but with its own vitality. It invokes a sort of 'post rum libido' for that special someone you only met 3 hours ago at the local bar. This track also comes with the standard wailing unison bend that we all know and love, the lazy guitar line that refuses to change key and the bass line's are playing very nice with the drums. This epitomises what shoegaze is all about & its one of my fave tracks on this lovely EP.
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From start to finish this EP is a display of music made by a band who have embodied the sonic culture completely by the way that they consume the music of the sophmoric shoegaze era ,eating other modern bands for dessert. The musicianship and production values on this EP are fantastic plus the songwriting is lush and the lead singers voice is immense. What I would love to hear from them is music in their own language, but moreover I can't wait to hear what they come up with next. Their sound is already very mature and their production impressive. 'Lava Lite' are ones to watch.
The EP was recorded & mixed by Vladimir Nosyrev at the Petersburg Recording Studio, Saint Petersburg, produced by Lava Lite & mastered by Andrey Subbotin at the Saturday Mastering Studio, Moscow and is available up on their band camp site - www.LavaLite.Bandcamp.Com
Robert Von Ciaran is the Vocalist, Guitarist, Producer & Engineer in Irish heavy shoegazers 'Tuath'. Hailing from Galway in Western Ireland Robert's musical influences span numerous genres and are far reaching. 'Tuath' are quietly establishing themselves as forerunners in Ireland's shoegaze & psych-rock scene.