RELEASE: Molten Young Lovers
RELEASE DATE: 13th October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Shelflife Records
The closest thing I can relate to Airiel's second album entitled 'Molten Young Lovers' is the 1980’s sound of shoegaze: which in its crawling faze was not just shoegaze but a neat mixture between dream pop, soul, synthpop and anything else you could fit in. 'Molten Young Lovers' is the kind of album that harkens to this older and more reminiscent sound while also adding flavours of current and modern day shoegaze scene. And just like the first rays of shoegaze that shone through in the 1980's, there is often a downtrodden and somewhat reflective quality to the album that makes it all the more rewarding to listen to and explore. 'Molten Young Lovers' was released back on the 13th October 2017 via the good folks over at 'Shelflife Records' with the album available to buy/download on various formats from both shelflife.com and airiel.bandcamp.com
Molten Young Lovers by Airiel
‘This Is Permanent’ opens with a drum machine heavy programmed beat that leads into a full scale shoegaze-led guitar progression. The soundscapes and layering of sound that flexes from the guitar adds a whole other level to the sound of the music, as well as the impressive (and loud) vocal performance. Much like the music of MBV, Airiel's brand of shoegaze are in fact linear pop tunes wrapped up with layers of wall to wall effects, and while Airiel are nowhere near as ear-shatteringly loud or echo-drenched as MBV, the same kind of under skin of musicality resides in both. ‘Cloudburst’ appears more as a dream pop track, ethereal and wavering in its backing: drenched with layers and layers of soaring synth and beautiful tones. The drums roll along to capture the essence of late 80’s, early 90’s breezy dream pop music; this transition continues onto ‘Your Lips, My Mouth’ which is a brilliantly original album highlight. This track adds more layering onto the already dense instrumental structure of ‘Cloudburst’ and a darker tone of colour to the music: mix this with the vocal and the shimmering guitar performance and you have a crafty mixture of nostalgic tones and a kind of contemplative feeling of desolation; fantastic.
‘Molten Young Lovers’ follows on with a more moody and ambient opening before sliding back into a dream pop-esque textured passage of guitars and rumbling, rolling drums. Between the rhythm section and a synth based soundscape at the back of the mix, ‘Molten Young Lovers’ offers a kind of post-punk element to the album, this stands at the background of what turns into a beautiful ballad. The lyrics, the delivery, are truly brilliant: these all blend together for added emotive depth and effect. ‘Mind Furnace’ slows things down and sounds similar to an interlude of sorts, unfortunately, the tracks blend of electronic based beats and ambience demonstrates a type of tedious and slight flavour.
‘Sharron Apple’ resumes the pace of the previous half of the album, extending the concept of layered guitar music to an almost noise rock level while also retaining the same kind of pop ballad aestethic of the previous songs also. ‘Song For You’ is an enjoyable song, albeit lengthy and slightly frustrating in its weight, but with several rewarding and attractive passages (especially the outro). Another rewarding but lengthy journey is the follower ‘Keep You’, which features some great keyboard and guitar playing, as well as a fantastic second half and outro. ‘Red Car’ returns to the aforementioned parameter of noise rock and more distorted guitar song, featuring a fantastic drum performance and musical cross over. ‘You Sweet Talker’ remains the strongest track on the albums weightier second half: its more ballad like approach, slow and slight crescendo and progression over its duration is a rewarding listening experience in relation to the other tracks on the album. ‘The Painkillers’ opens with a speedy drum and guitar lead section before diving into the downtrodden strums of the music at the beginning of the second half of the album. Its another emotive, vocal lead track, equipped with a neat double tap snare beat and a screeching central guitar riff.
If 'Molten Young Lovers' demonstrates one thing, it is that collectively Airiel are talented and creative songwriters; across the board the album features some fantastically encapsulating songs and performances to go along with them. The talent of the band themselves are also a strong playing factor in what makes the album a thoroughly enjoyable experience: each instrument is given as much time as the next, with equal delicacy and patience on each track as much so on the one before it. If there were criticisms to be made about the album it would be the length (twelve tracks) and the much more weighted down second half. The songs on the first half of 'Molten Young Lovers' seem to comfortably balance stylistic song writing with a comfortable weight and a brilliant sound. On the second half sometimes things tend to drag on and become slightly monotonous. Either way, it possesses some ridiculously well written songs that act as subtle reminders of past musical movements while simultaneously introducing the bands own original take on genres such as shoegaze and dream pop. Listen out for the stunning production, for the intelligent performance, and ultimately, for the 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: Pia Fraus
RELEASE: Field Ceremony
RELEASE DATE: 16th October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Seksound Records (EU) Shelflife (US) Vinyl Junkie (JPN)
Estonian dream-poppers 'Pia Fraus' formed in 1998 and released four studio albums and a handful of EP's on various record labels worldwide. Their collective sound is a sublime mixture of dream-pop, subtle shoegaze and beautiful electronica all topped off blissfully with shimmering layered vocalisations. The band are made up of Eve Komp - vocals/synths/metallophone, Kärt Ojavee - synths, Rein Fuks - guitars/vocals/percussion, Reijo Tagapere - bass and Margus Voolpriit - drums and after a ten year hiatus they have returned with a brand new album entitled 'Field Ceremony', to be released on October 16th 2017 via Seksound Records (EU) Shelflife (US) & Vinyl Junkie (JPN) with former member Kristel Eplik returning to record backing vocals and former drummer Joosep Volk also returning to direct the video for 'That’s Not All'. The full album is available to pre-order right now on various formats from the aforementioned record companies.
Field Ceremony by Pia Fraus
Entrancing sound waves swirl and meld effortlessly with the uplifting sweep of fizzing synth and woozy pull of reverberating guitars as ‘It’s Over Now’ unfurls it’s sonic tendrils and wraps itself around steady percussion and the throb of luscious bass frequencies. The repetitive vocal line floats effortlessly alongside sweeping electronics and the buzz of fret noise that steadily builds into a majestic crescendo of noise accompanied by the ghostly refrain of undulating reverb. ‘Never Again Land’ moves brilliantly through catchy chord changes and hazy instrumentation as a busy percussive pattern pulses through a pre-ordained flight path. The glorious duel vocal attack is simply mesmerising and it glides on waves of swirling synth, the hum of bass and those resonating guitar lines before collectively pausing for breath, held fast in a sticky lysergic hued instrumental break anxiously awaiting ejection into a grand finale. Up next, ‘Autumn Winds’ howls into audible range heckled by a screaming synth line before exploding into a colourful cacophony of sound. It charges headlong into a catchy melody driven fog filled with swirling almost incantational reverberations. Steady percussion, soaring synth and pulsing bass lines allow addictive guitar progressions to wrap themselves around another impressive vocal performance that loops and arcs brilliantly throughout the sonic ether.
‘Mountain Trip Guide’ rattles into existence on a lazy drum pattern as pulsating bass frequencies, fizzing electronics and surging synth swells glide in close proximity. Beautiful vocalisations swirl through catchy hook laden guitar progressions whipped by reverberating lead lines and addictiveness of effected slide guitar. ‘No Filters’ floats effortlessly on the up draft of impressive synth swells, the metronomic thud of percussion and the swirl of reverb as ‘Pia Fraus’ deploy a modern dream-pop gem. Shimmering guitars accompanied by the whirl of organ push the tempo on as the track builds momentarily before pulling back and gently descending to a final stop whilst ‘Endless Clouds’ lurches into a organ filled whirlwind peppered by the thrill of tremulous guitars and explosive drum patterns. Intense melody accompanies those gorgeous vocalisations as pulsating bass progressions wind their way through cascading synth and the pull of luscious reverb. Up next, the opening bars of 'Sugar High Of The Year' erupt into an fuzzy sonic behemoth filled with explosive percussion, raging guitars and soaring synth swells. The track echoes through quieter moments of instrumentation allowing the vocals to move through those impressive verse patterns before exploding into a mesmerising display of blissed out noise.
‘Don’t Tell Me How’ is simply divine and it shimmers and glides through undulating waves of instrumentation that glisten with graceful lustre, drenching melancholic vocalisations in scintillating reverberation that echoes and lingers with every single note, chord change or plucked string. It’s deeply infectious and beautifully constructed making it an album highlight for me. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Brutal Truth Of The World’ opens up pulsing atmospherically through massive walls of hazy reverb hued guitars. Slow moving percussion, circumnavigated by the constant sweep of synth and the undulating rumble of bass accompany another impressive duel vocal performance laced with stunning melody that collectively leads the listener through pretty impressive instrumental passages of sonic light and shade right up until its finale. The album closes out with ‘That’s Not All’, a turbulent sonic whirlwind filled with woozy guitars, charging drum patterns, the plink of synth and the throb of bass frequencies all wrapped around those stunning melody driven vocalisations. A fitting ending to an absolutely marvellous album.
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.
RELEASE DATE: 6th October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records
The debut album from 'Miniatures' is a dense and lush affair. Its textures are tightly woven to create velvety soundscapes that envelope and endear. Formed in 2012 and currently based in Melbourne, the trio seem to be a further example of the strength of the Southern hemisphere's creative scene right now – especially when it comes to the dreamier side of the spectrum. The band worked with renowned Melbourne based producer Matthew Hosking to fine tweak the sounds on this album and the finished product is spectacular. 'Jessamines' floats and flickers. It gets it's full release on the 6th October 2017 via the ever reliable Saint Marie Records and you can pre-order it right now on various formats from saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com
The opening track is an immersion in the soft swirls that are found throughout this record. 'Try' is wispy and bright, but a few sharp edges reflect the light. 'Jessamine' – the title track – is a fuzzy force, not quite an iron fist in a velvet glove, but thinking about it. You can hear the Cocteau's influence in 'To The Lake'. The chorus shimmers on top, like a heat haze on the surface of the titular water. 'Form Into Soft And Wild' is beautiful whilst the guitars trill and jangle in 'Dust', setting the scene for single 'Without Saying'. A speeding journey through a large sonic landscape, there's much for students of shoegaze to savour here, from the 80s-tinged guitar sound to the vast chorus.
'Honey' is big and bright. 'What You Want' is a real highlight, driving and a touch dark. The rich vocals ride along on a fuzzy wave so gracefully and dive deep into the chorus. An eerie whirr introduces 'Silent Tide' and the colours change. Slow's spacious opening soon spills over with sounds, layered and layered. The album ends with 'Standstill' which slowly swaggers towards the exit, each step cushioned by clouds of fuzz. It's a grand end to an album with ambition.
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
RELEASE: From Void To Matter Volume 2
RELEASE DATE: 29th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: VÅRØ Records
Hailing from the wind swept isle of Öland in Sweden, Calle Thor and Oskar Karlström aka 'Bolywool' have been fascinating us lot here at Primal Music for quite some time with their shimmering, cinematic, frost laden soundscapes filled to the brim with flourishes of atmospheric post-rock and scintillating shoegaze collectively underscored by stunning electronic progressions. Their collective sound has the ability to bring listeners on a melancholic journey into their world, a world that twists and turns through epic snapshots of life, death and an inherent love for their homeland. Back in May 2017 the band released the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter' via VÅRØ Records and now they have returned with their second thrilling instalment, boldly continuing on a journey of sonic enlightenment and once again blowing our minds. 'From Void To Matter Volume 2' was released back on the 29th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
From Void to Matter Volume 2 by Bolywool
The soft thud of sequenced percussion accompanied by pulsing bass frequencies and cascading synth lines permeate the ether as ‘The Dial (Revisited)’ glides into audible range punctuated by reverb laden guitars and impressive production values. Otherworldly vocalisations add to the seemingly peaceful atmospheric hubris that tumbles wilfully throughout the piece but that ethereal feeling is short lived as we’re pushed headlong into a raging whirlwind of sound that surrounds an immense chorus progression that seems to build and build brilliantly into a undulating sonic behemoth. ‘Bolywool’ continuously amaze me. They are experts at changing the mood of a track at will and it’s well documented here as the track bounces quickly from a melancholic fuelled slice of atmospheric post-rock into a lurching lysergic tinged monster, amalgamating serene vocalisations with churning percussion, fuzzed out guitars and swirling lead lines to create something altogether magical. Not only is ‘The Dial(Revisited)’ my favourite track on this release but it’s possibly Bolywool’s best track to date and it ranks as one of my favourite tracks of this year by far.
Up next, ‘Mirror Sky’ rumbles on a repetitive back beat as reverb laced guitars tremble and shimmer through icy atmospherics, the hum of bass and sullen synth swells. Stunning vocals float effortlessly atop of the collective instrumentation guiding the listener into a deeply atmospheric break filled with blissed out sonic reflections and the collective twinkle of instrumentation before exploding into a huge wall of hazy guitars and that soaring maleficent howl. The EP closes out with ‘Blues For Stornoway (Pts 1,2,3 & 4) and if ever a piece of music deserved to appear on a movie soundtrack it has to be this track. Beautifully melancholic opening vibes meander and intertwine with delay and reverb, enveloping themselves around a ghostly vocal line and the woozy flourishes of synth and rumbling percussion. It loops and arcs through shimmering electronics and wavering instrumental progressions before opening up into an almost industrial feel, metronomic in it’s tempo but majestic in it’s approach before finishing up caught in a brilliant atmospheric cloud of samples and synth that rise and fall into it’s stunning finale. A blistering end to another marvellous collection of tracks.
Although we're late to the party on this one due to their absolutely ridiculous and subsequently non-existent PR policy, our good friends and Donegal natives 'Tuath' have just unleashed a brand new track entitled 'Cuz Why?' accompanied by a rather impressive video to their adoring world wide fan base. The aforementioned track is lifted off their forthcoming EP aptly titled 'Youth' (release date to be announced) and not only have they stripped back their usual tidal wave of reverb to showcase front man Rob Mulhern's vocal abilities but they've also added the subtle throb of post-punk to their unique sonic collage, inserting it brilliantly in amongst the swirling lysergic electronics and pounding percussion.
For those of you new to the psychedelic merry-go-round that is 'Tuath' the band collectively create a heady mix of psych, krautrock, electronic, trip-hop and shoegaze with both eyes directed firmly on the experimental. Their alternative sound has catapulted them onto some of the best live stages both here in Ireland and around Europe making them one of the most exciting Irish underground acts on the circuit today. You can check out their back catalogue of releases by either heading over to tuath.bandcamp.com or by searching our database for everything 'Tuath' related.
RELEASE: Dreaming In Sound
RELEASE DATE: 15th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Shoegazer Sanctuary Records
Our good friends over at 'Shoegazer Sanctuary Records' have compiled yet another no-nonscense, anti-inner sanctum, genre-defining collection of worldwide artists in the guise of their latest compilation release aptly titled 'Dreaming In Sound'. As you are probably all aware we're usually not ones for reviewing compilation releases here at Primal Music as most of the time they do absolutely nothing for the artists involved and we've always found that they're either full of the same old, same old bands & featured artists or it's just another blog, webzine or net label trying their luck by forcing us into another click bait exercise. It's all a very disappointing & mundane exercise to be honest. 'Shoegazer Sanctuary Records' are the exception! They've released three immense compilations so far without fuss or bother. They didn't add the usual heavy hitters from the underground psych/gaze/ethereal/ambient scene just to get Facebook likes or numbers across a blog. They didn't annoyingly force the release into our inbox either by harassing or tagging us in their social media posts. They purposefully & honestly decided on each artist by their sonic individuality (and not by their social standing). We really dig that! Their latest compilation release entitled 'V/A Dreaming In Sound' was released back on September 15th 2017 and it features twenty three artists from the world wide dream pop, dream wave, dream noise & ambient scene and as usual the label have put this out as a 'Name Your Price' tariff via shoegazersanctuaryrecords.bandcamp.com
V/A Dreaming in Sound by Shoegazer Sanctuary Records
The album opens up with the fantastic Mississippi based dreamscape duo 'The Starlight Run' and their track 'Lower', lifted off June 2017's 'Let's Float EP'. It glides on shimmering streamlined reverberations deftly underscored with repetitive percussion, soaring synths and hazy vocalisations. A blistering opening salvo indeed. Up next, Alaska's 'A Thousand Hours' bring 'Bleach' to the party. Lifted off their recently released full length album 'Sleep' this track is a simmering cloud of droning instrumentation and jangling reverb hued guitar progressions. Sporadic percussion adds a heavy atmosphere allowing that stunning wall of vocal tracks to penetrate the gloom and drench this listeners ears in glorious sonic joy and that's followed brilliantly by Swedish based dream-gazers 'Weather Island' with their stunning January 2017 released single 'The Eternal'. A massive wall of hazy guitars pound the senses as misty vocalisations swirl in the maelstrom buffered by meandering lead lines and huge chord changes. French based 'Fools Ferguson' appear here supported by 'The Alohama Lakes', a track lifted off their sublime January 2017 released album 'Dead Lines'. This track is a slow and yearning piece of heavy dream-pop whilst California based 'The Fawns Of Love' are up next with their decent track 'Silly Boy' lifted off 2017's 'Who Cares About Tomorrow'. This band are a constant enigma to me as they have seriously great potential but seem to care more about blog, webzine & American based online radio coverage than anything else. Either way 'Silly Boy' swoons into the ether held fast within a whirlwind of tremulous guitars and repetitive sequenced percussion. Add into the mix the dreamy vocalisations of Jenny Andreotti and what we have is a shimmering wall of translucent dream pop underscored by a flurry of shoegaze impressions, impressive instrumentation and some fantastic production.
Nathan Guzman aka 'Southpavv' is a Californian based dream-gaze artist and he is supported on this compilation by his mesmerising track 'Saturday Night 1997' lifted off an EP of the same name released back in June 2017. Luscious walls of swooning guitar & effervescent synth float effortlessly on the serine hum of bass frequencies as sequenced percussion lulls sweetly beneath the intoxicating swirl of reverberation. 'Saturday Night 1997' is a stunning track and a great addition here. Michigan based 'Cesium Swimsuit' appear next and they bring some rather mundane electro-gaze to the mix with their track 'Particles' whilst up next 'Wintermilk' hail from Russia and they fuse blissed out dream-pop and luscious synths together with almost ethereal vocalisations on their track 'Lots Of Light' lifted off their May 2017 released debut album 'Pretty Ugly'. Florida based 'Zooey' create stunning blissed out dream-gaze and they are well represented here by a track called 'Never Was' lifted off their debut album entitled 'Bottlerocket', released back in April 2o17. Hazy walls of melodically infused instrumentation languish in pools of intense reverb as shimmering vocalisations float effortlessly throughout the mix firmly tethered to the earth by those impressive drum patterns. This is a beautiful track worthy of your ears. Virginia based 'Distant Creatures' have been wowing the underground shoegaze fraternity ever since the release of their immense two track single entitled 'Escape' back in September 2016. 'Haunted By You' appears here and it's is lifted from their recently released thirteen track opus entitled 'Snares In Safe Harbours'. It's a dreamy slice of reverberating joy permeated by luscious vocalisations, throbbing bass frequencies, surging synth swells and driving guitars. Andy Jossi aka 'The Churchill Garden' has worked with countless vocalists and used them to bring his sonic visualisations to life. Here he has supplied is latest track entitled 'Breath' fronted by Ben Aylward from Australian based outfit 'Swirl'. His vocal moves and undulates in a mesmerising manner capturing moments of melancholic abandonment as it pulses through wave after wave of magical instrumentation whilst up next UK based 'beatastic' appears here with his track 'Always Us', an atmospherically charged synth driven electro-gaze outing lifted off his 2016 released twelve track entitled 'Staticity'.
Texas based dream-gazers 'Blushing' have supplied their track 'Tether' lifted off an EP of the same name released back in January 2107. 'Tether' has gentle guitars that leads the way into a well written melodic structure built around the slow tap of drums, well mixed and comfortable bass and the noisy but ethereal influenced guitars. Special credit to the fantastic and memorable chorus, in which two soaring female vocals meld mesmerizingly with the instrumentation to create a beautiful and original type of sound. Liverpool based dreamy trio 'Cascadia Fault Line' appear here with an alt/indie acoustic track entitled 'Firefly', a run of the mill add reverb for effect sort of thing, lifted off their recently released two track single 'Firefly/Counting Kings On Rainy Days' whilst up next Texas based 'Creature In The Spiral' balance the playing field once again with their sublime dream laden track 'Anodyne', a simmering slice of melodic dream-pop that floats effortlessly on streamlined waves of tingling reverb, subtle synths and stunning vocalisations. Brazilian based post-gaze outfit 'Alles Club' unleash their explosive track 'Eclipse' lifted off their recently released three track remix package of the same name. Melodic guitar lines merge with huge walls of hazy atmospheric reverb, humming bass frequencies, ghostly vocalisations and busy percussion to collectively inject a massive lysergic ball of sonic energy out into the ether. 'Eclipse' is a triumphant addition to this collection of tracks by a band who I will be checking out further. Experimental duo 'Mayu' join forces with the ever reliant 'Tom Lugo' (Panophonic, Stellarscope, Patetico Recordings) to create an atmospherically dreamy ambient hued track entitled 'Mayu-Quiero Despertar', originally released back in November 2016. Danish based 'Keith Canisius' appears next, bringing his brand of spaced out electronica to the fore in the guise of 'We Gotta Get Going', a busy synth laden affair with repetitive sequenced percussion and huge spaced out chorus breaks. The compilation takes some what of a confusing twist here with the addition of two cover versions. The first is a cover of New Order's 'Temptation' by Maryland based 'Soñder' and it's followed by a cover version of The Byrds track 'It Happens Each Day' by 'Daydream Cathedral'. If you are into this sort of thing by all means check them both out but as I'm completely against cover versions appearing on underground releases I'm going to take a step out and move quickly on.
Tennessee based 'HR_Lexy' released her five track EP 'Nature Vs Neon' back on February 21st 2015. Her sound echoes through electronically charged gothic mysticism with dreamy ambient hued overtones and lashings of atmospheric synth, reverb and sequenced percussion. Her track 'You're Not Mine' is lusciously addictive and stands out here as a major positive. The albums penultimate track comes from Melbourne based droning alt-psych aficionados 'Seasloth'. Their latest album 'Somnuiva' was released on the 5th September 2017 and it is represented here with a track entitled 'Scarlet'. Throbbing bass lines bounce into the sonic ether tethered to subtle atmospherically charged drones and intense vocalisations. Brilliantly executed guitar progressions and the occasional instrumental drone wraps itself around cascading bass frequencies as dark malicious sound wave envelopes the entire track. 'Scarlet' is absolutely absorbing making 'Seasloth' a band to check out going forward. 'Dreaming In Sound' closes out with a track called 'Low Valley Low' by Washington based electronic dream-pop du0 'Static Shore'. This track is lifted off their July 2016 released five track EP 'Life & Love In The Hologram' and it's a shimmering synth laden slice of summery electronica with beautifully entrancing and utterly dreamy vocalisations underscored by sublime production. A fitting ending to another fantastic collection of tracks.
ARTIST: Tús Nua
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Every once and a while a brand new band comes along and gets me really excited about their music. Usually this aforementioned band comes straight out of left-field, far away from the usual underground cyclical music fraternity but with music that has the power to grab me by the ears and throw me willingly around a room. Back in July 2016 a little known band from Zagreb by the name of Tús Nua released their debut single 'Matches', then followed it up in July 2017 with their second single, the stunning 'Geysir', and I instantly fell in love with their sound. Collectively it consisted of melodic & atmospheric post-rock peppered at times with impressively hazy shoegaze moments that occasionally leans slightly into alt-rock territory and drags with it stunning vocalisations and impressive production values. This perfect combination of sounds have led the band to release their debut nine track album back on the 15th September 2017 entitled 'Horizons' and with the help of friends and fellow musicians they have put together one of my favourite albums of 2017 so far. The band are made up of Jordi Ilić – guitar/vocals/synths, Jelena Božić – guitar/vocals/synths & Matea Milevoj – bass guitar/back vocals/synths with guest appearances on various tracks by Sara Ercegović (ŽEN), Goran Grey (###), Lucija Potočnik (Irena Zilic), Eva Badanjak (ŽEN) & vana Picek (π). 'Horizons' is available to buy/download right now from tus-nua.bandcamp.com
Horizons by Tús Nua
Hazy, reverberating sonic reflections intertwined with sullen chord progressions build into an atmospheric crescendo as 'Tendons' winds itself up into a brooding maelstrom of sound. Subtle electronically styled percussive hits add intense depth as the track explodes into life pulsing haunting vocalisations out into the ether. It's luscious guitar progressions swirl in a magnificent undulating sweep through resonating refractions and echoing instrumentation. Up next, 'Matches' washes into audible range trembling on a thread of brilliantly atmospheric post-gaze. It swoons as its harmonious vocal track floats through the ether on a swirling foundation of addictive lead guitar licks and undulating synth lines. Its steadying percussive attack holds everything in place, gracefully leading the listener into explosive tempestuous finale thats filled to the brim with dreamy post-rock promise. 'There's A Thin Line Between Everything' jangles on a tremulous guitar progression as that haunting vocal track sucks you into the piece and leaves you floating brilliantly on swathes of shimmering reverb. Instrumentally this track ebbs and flows through explosive bass filled passages underpinned by mesmerisingly hazy guitars and stunning effects laden production that is steeped in ethereal atmosphere. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' soars into the ether on streamlined guitars and ghostly atmospherics. 'Tús Nua' have this uncanny knack of building tracks slowly, before twisting and morphing them into massive melancholic beasts that teeter nervously on brilliantly executed drum patterns. Their tracks linger on addictive passages of guitar before diving headlong off the edge into mesmerisingly deep pools of shimmering shoegaze orientated instrumentation before climbing out and starting all over again. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' is one of those tracks that brings you on a sonic journey from it's opening bars straight through until it's effects laden death throws. Simply stunning!
Up next, 'Geysir' opens up in a haze of jangling guitars, subtle synth swells and noisy atmospherics. Steady percussion keeps a firm bedrock underfoot as throbbing bass frequencies bubble and skip through entrancing verse progressions, deftly enveloping those impressive vocal skills. It soars through it's chorus parts with relative ease, swirling and tumbling through layers of reverberating instrumentation and magical lead lines effortlessly whilst 'Hills' fizzes into life on a 80's post-punk type of vibe before those sequenced synths start up and drag it into the modern age. Sublime vocals lead meandering guitar progressions on a merry dance through electronically charged percussion and subtle swells of synth led bass frequencies as those yearning vocalisations swirl and shimmer majestically. 'Fight!' is an angry brute that barks into life held fast to a punishing guitar progression as that slow moving percussion grinds through the ether on a wave of bass heavy frequencies and cascading lead lines. It builds into a menacing sonic behemoth dragging a vocal line out from somewhere within and drenching it in an interesting mix of post-rock, psych-rock and alt-gaze before 'Obvious' arrives on a lighter note with melodic guitars and blissed out vocals clinging to the throb of bass and a busy drum pattern. Lead guitars meander in and out of the overall mix as heavier passages of instrumentation rise and fall brilliantly, streaming through hazy reverberations and subtle lines of bubbling synth. The album closes out on a post-rock orientated gem. 'Repeat' is steeped in atmosphere and is underpinned from the off by another impressive percussive display that lays down a bedrock for those repetitive lead lines and that amazing vocal take. The hum of bass expertly hovers over deep lying synth as the track slows down to an addictive pace with 'Tús Nua' injecting a sort of lysergic/psychedelic hue into proceedings before fizzing out into a peaceful finale. A masterful end to a wonderful album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: Pastel Coast
RELEASE: Vague Noire
RELEASE DATE: 9th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Collective Noord Sfeer Records
Just only last year I began my stint with the ever-prestigious Primal Music blog, and with that stint begun revelling in the unearthing of many a brilliant band, musician, artist and producer. There is nothing more satisfying than receiving a CD from France, a thank you from the US or a recommendation from Brazil and announcing to your friends a list of reasons why they should listen to them, enjoy them and soak them up. At the end of last year, amongst the revelling and soaking process, I decided to construct a rough ‘Releases of the Year’ list and saw in my rear view mirror a grand appreciation and acclaim for two releases in particular. One was a return from the murky depths of the past by one of the most underrated bands in the history of popular music; US shoegaze/noise veterans 'The Veldt' appeared and drowned out their critics with a mesmerizingly beautiful five track EP that balanced shoegaze, trap music and noise pop with the contextual hymns of their past. The other release could not have been more different: from France I heard the lush, beautiful and unique sounds of 'Pastel Coast', a one man project that combined nostalgic overtures and dreamy tones with the guitar and synth lead production of indie pop. The EP, entitled 'Sense', was a melding of emotive guitar music and the kind of sun-drenched downtrodden attitudes of an evening spent on dirty beaches that made it so breathtakingly beautiful I could not stop talking to it and listening enough. So, when I heard that 'Pastel Coast' was to release a new EP, entitled 'Vague Noire', I turned my ears on again and awaited an opportunity to hear one of the worlds most interesting non-professional artists paint pictures with sounds, words and textures all over again. 'Vague Noire' was released back on the 9th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via pastelcoast.bandcamp.com
Vague Noire by Pastel Coast
‘Roses’ opens the EP, a guitar tinkering based track backed by a drum machine style beat. The vocals are deeper, perhaps a shade darker in texture than on 'Sense', but the music retains the playfully pop-infused jangle, interspersed with fantastic production and guitar tricks. Underneath the initial mix of guitars, bass and drums lies a neat soundscape-styled synth track that adds a more dreamy quality to the song. After the three minute mark 'Pastel Coast' showcases his fantastic guitar tricks with an intricate and ridiculously rewarding outro for the listener. ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ follows with a similar musical structure: bouncing drums guide the guitars and bass through the outskirts of the song. However on ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ the riffs and vocals take a more concentrated stance, sounding deeper and darker than on the EPs opening track. The fantastic guitar-orientated instrumental passages of ‘Roses’ appears even more prominently on ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ especially on the second half of the track, making the song an easy EP highlight.
The lighthearted pop of ‘Malo Les Bains’ reaches an almost danceable level of bounce and tempo. The alluring French vocal offers a fantastically layered sketch of driving in the hills of ones hometown or dancing with friends long after the bar has closed: it is with these simple tricks that songs like ‘Malo Les Bains’ connect and resonate with the listener on a level of pure enjoyment and admiration. ‘Araginee’ sounds like it was a left over from 'Sense', its more reverb-centric guitar lead and keyboard backed sound allows it too come off (in a positive way) as like a sort of philosophised dance club track. Still in the backbone of the song (much like the others) is the core elements of indie pop music that make the song appear less experimental and, perhaps, more approachable as such. The title track appears as a cross between the dreamy, pop infused songs that have appeared throughout Vague Noire, and a more post-punk styled sound. While still light hearted, its chorus alters the landscape; carving out a more dark but entrancingly beautiful sound: another EP highlight.
Although a review of 'Vague Noire' is not an opportunity to balance its credibility upon a comparison between itself and 'Sense', it is important to note the transitions and influence that 'Pastel Coast' evokes from one to another. I’ll preface my thoughts on 'Vague Noire' by openly stating that I believe 'Sense' is a better EP, a fact that I thought would be integral to my opinions. Where 'Sense' relied heavily on thematic musical elements of what most would consider dream-pop and shoegaze music, 'Vague Noire' instead sees 'Pastel Coast' attend to a more pop influenced, indie rock type sound… And that is exactly wherein its brilliance lies. You see, its easy to ride off 'Vague Noire' as simply a bunch of indie pop songs that all retain a similar drum beat, but it is within each song that the true genius of 'Pastel Coast' shines. These tracks, gathered together with a unity of similar sounds and tones, are ridiculously well constructed indie pop songs: between the evidently neat guitar playing all the way to the background ambience, each song is a well built and oiled machine. Together, these tracks provide nothing but pure entertainment, joy and acclaim. Another thing: I can’t speak French (in fact I remember I spent all of my high school mandatory French lessons listening to music) so when you listen to an EP where the gentleman singing only does so in French, and it conjures up images, memories and dreams… Then there is something wholly fantastic and intelligent going on. Much like on 'Sense', 'Pastel Coasts' greatest connection with the listener is through the nostalgia-laced visions of parties, beaches and empty dance halls, except this time it is done less contemplatively and more subtle and somewhat initially appealing for some listeners. 'Vague Noire’s' beauty and love stands out against so much damn mediocrity that listening to it was like some kind of cleansing relief… An original and enjoyable piece of art, achieved through stellar production, intricate mixing and beautiful sound.
ARTIST: Citrus Clouds
RELEASE: Ultra Sound
RELEASE DATE: 22nd September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Custom Made Music
Phoenix based desert-gaze trio ‘Citrus Clouds’ have announced the highly anticipated follow up to their debut full length album ‘Imagination’ which was released back in November 2016 via Custom Made Music. This new release entitled 'Ultra Sound' has it's official unveiling on the 22nd September 2017 and it consists of seven brand new tracks that swirl effortlessly in a sonic style that only 'Citrus Clouds' can create. The band are made up of Eric Pineda, Stacie Huttleston & Anthony Jarero and collectively they create stunning soundscapes that swim effortlessly through swathes of reverberating shoegaze and addictive, dreamy vocal lines that are impressively underpinned by steadying percussion and sublime instrumentation. 'Ultra Sound' is available to pre-order right now via citrusclouds.bandcamp.com
Ultra Sound by Citrus Clouds
The repetitive tap of percussion announces the EP's opening track entitled 'Ocean Eyes' and it not long before we're awash in that Citrus Clouds trademark luscious wall of melody. Hazy guitars underpinned by the subtle throb of bass frequencies collectively swirl around that impressive vocal performance. There's a brilliant ethereal vocal highlight that touches each line throughout the chorus parts and that instantly catapults this track into a fantastic dream-pop state and it marks another level in 'Citrus Clouds' continuously evolving sound. Up next, 'You Loved Me First' fizzes into life held fast in an addictive shoegaze orientated cloud. Beautifully melodic duel vocal tracks meander through warbling guitar stabs and humming bass lines as that steady percussive swagger holds perfect time. Catchy chord structures and hook laden instrumental sequences mark this track out as a favourite of mine and let's not forget that impressive lead break and its soaring reverberations. Simply stunning!
'Life Happens' trembles on a quivering bass signature before opening up into a swirling maelstrom of mind numbing reverberations held fast to a punchy percussive swagger and overlaid by majestic vocalisations. A repetitive lead guitar line races in and out of the collective instrumentation casting magical sonic spells throughout the ether whilst 'Happy' (reminiscent at times to early 90's era 'Lemonheads') explodes into a cacophony of hazy sound waves and lazily undulates through laid back vocalisations, catchy chorus lines and sticky instrumentation that seems to linger long after the track ends. Up next is another favourite! 'Is This Real?' echoes in a 4AD kind of way. It's opening salvos sound like thunder before mellowing out into a melody driven slice of blissed out desert gaze. Jangling guitars ride a busy drum pattern deftly delivering that immense vocal take as it's distinct chord changes are permeated by the throb of bass and deep echoes of reverb.
The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Here Is Where We Are' is drenched in luscious reverb and this helps immensely with it's atmospheric opening bars, instilling a kind of fragility that is both addictive and melancholic all at once. As per the norm for Citrus Clouds this track unfurls it's sonic tendrils and we're absolutely drenched in a collective downpour of melody as lead guitars soar into the ether accompanied by those beautifully intense backing vocals, cascading bass and that steady percussive assault. The EP closes out with what is one of the best pieces of music that I think I've heard this year. 'A Dream Of You' is a meandering wave of jangling desert-gaze. Lazy percussion keeps metronomic time as warbling guitars and a bloody brilliant bass line protects that haunting vocal line. The chord sequences on this track are absolutely fantastic and catch you off guard as they seamlessly connect verse and chorus with a pull of whammy bar and that downward step of heavy bass and as for that stunning instrumental break ...... well you'll have to hear that for yourself ..... THIS IS MUSIC!
As EP's go 'Ultra Sound' is one of the best I've heard this year. It's so exciting to hear a bands development from their early releases until now with each release being a positive step forward. As far as I'm concerned this band have gone from strength to strength and they've worked hard to create a sound all to themselves in a scene that is so bloody diluted right now the hip scensters are fighting over genre tags!
ARTIST: SPC ECO
RELEASE DATE: 22nd August 2107
RECORD COMPANY: ELaB Records
It seems like only yesterday I was sitting down to give a listen to the latest release by legendary producer Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin aka SPC ECO. The release in question was 'Under My Skin' and it was awarded a 5/5 by yours truly; a feat not so easy to come by. Garcia and Berlin had come together to create something as dark as it was beautiful: ethereal vocal performances were combined with shadow-filled synth passages and lyrics, all topped off neatly with drum programming and a crisp clean production. When I heard that the duo were releasing a follow up full length album (entitled Calm) I thought two things: one, it will great to see what SPC ECO have churned out this time, and two, could they keep together over the length of an album? There was only one way to find out, I guess?
Calm by SPC ECO
'Calm' opens with the MBV shoegaze-influenced fuzz of ‘Out of Sight’: its deep and rumbling walls of static back up Berlin's siren-like calls and humming. Behind the mix, Garcia twists knobs and presses buttons to give the music a focal point, hip-hop like beats guiding the rest of the instrumentation and music along slowly. Although it is a fantastic 90’s-ish track and perhaps even an album highlight, there is something blaringly obvious: this is going to be much denser, louder and wild than 'Under My Skin' (not that that is a bad thing). Somehow Berlin and Garcia follow an album highlight with yet another album highlight: the slower, but still as dense, ‘All the Voices’ utilizes a breathy performance by Berlin, backed up by a borderline industrial soundscape of the instruments behind. All the while as the track plays, brilliant ambiance and drone seeps in through the mix, making things heavier and more beautiful. ‘Rising Up’ stands as another absolutely fantastic track: the guitars again create a wall of technical fuzz and feedback, a drum beat again guides the music, but it's vocals are perhaps the most haunting found on the entire release. Things turn into some sort of wildly dark and exotically evocative dance party: equipped with songs you can dance to and songs you can have a neon-lit knife to at the same time.
‘All I Had’ captures a slower and a somewhat more sensual vocal performance by Berlin; meanwhile Garcia turns things down to a trip hop level, creating a mix of loud, noise filled dream pop-esque music. It's placement on the albums track list is also ace. Perhaps my favourite song on the entire album is the stellar ‘Pearls’ in which the vocals and instruments meet in a beautiful kind of harmonic pairing to create a downtrodden afterthought of dream pop. It’s an emotive mixture of contemplative ponderings and long winded passages of sun covered beaches with the texturally white backing of clouds amongst a blue sky. ‘Who Are You Now?’ is, however, much, much darker… Somewhat evil as well I guess. Its slow trip-hop inspired drum beat is accompanied with a creepy sample of bottles clanging together or something? Ambiance and atmospheric strings also add to the landscape even more thoroughly. ‘Ghosts’ is where things start to taste a little over-done: another slow tempo drum beat with breathy vocals make this song one of the more forgettable on 'Calm'. The more upbeat and soundscape inspired ‘When It Moves’ turns things back around, thankfully, injecting some of the elements that made previous tracks an invigorating , engaging and unique listening experience. ‘Get Lost’ is another album highlight, especially its massive, hi-hat trap inspired chorus, which underpins a sweep of ambiance and sampled noise over another brilliant vocal performance by Rose Berlin. Garcia truly turns up the ambiance on this track, weaving thin and slow instrumental sections with larger and more heavier passages of more colourful sounds.
‘Over’ seems to feature the most heavy percussion on the release: the programming with which the band uses is as thick and heavy as ever before. Behind the beats and vocals lies a bizarrely enjoyable sneaking sound of what could be the introductory music to a British detective series, full of rain, shadows and the occasional dash of neon lights. ‘Hours’ seeps all the atmospheric reverb, noise and ambiance into one melting pot of music; creating a dense and somewhat murky soundscape with which the song plays out. Berlin's voice fits well within the context of this kaleidoscopic tornado of sound, proving her graceful voice is a positive point of originality for SPC ECO.
While some elements of 'Under My Skin' (and perhaps SPC ECO themselves) are evident on 'Calm' (think the atmospheric and somewhat trance-inducing instrumentals, as well as the waveringly beautiful vocals), overall it seems the duo have created something somewhat noisier and denser than ever before. Where 'Under My Skin' relied on the atmosphere of each song (which it did very successfully) 'Calm' instead pulls down any filters that Garcia placed over the music previously; opening a flood gate of wall of sound type feedback, and more intricate and involved instrumentals throughout the album. Because of this, 'Calm' is at times more difficult a listen than 'Under My Skin', and while I champion noise, feedback and wall of sound song writing; I can understand why some listeners just may not connect with the album. Similarly, each tracks basic foundation (with some exceptions) is the same: a slow(ish) programmed drum beat plays over soundscapes while Rose Berlin smoothly dances between her upper register and mid-tone, spoken word style sensual vocal deliveries. Thankfully, I can acknowledge and see where the difference between tracks lies, and furthermore how much skill is required to write such music… I just assume some will not. Garcia and Berlin remain as beautifully beguile as ever: some tracks sound as though they should be on film soundtracks, some tracks sound like they should be played in the most warped and harrowing dance club in the world, others just sound completely and utterly mesmerizing in their beauty. Besides, it all really comes down to the artists and the music: a well seasoned and ridiculously talented producer doing what he does best, accompanied by some of his equally talented and interesting friends… And his daughter, who happens to have the kind of pipes that you can play at a demented carnival or a hypnotic lounge-type dinner party. Together they produce a strong, original and commendable album, achieved through programming, production and sound.