ARTIST: The Kepler Mission
RELEASE: End Of An Era
RELEASE DATE: November 21st 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Riffs, riffs, riffs… Come and get your riffs! 'End of an Era' is the debut full length release from L.A. based progressive rock outfit 'The Kepler Mission'. From the storming chugs of melodic prog-rock/metal to the small but sweet passages of texturing, 'End of an Era' is the kind of album that sounds as thought it could have been the backing to a mammoth rock opera or theatrical production. The riffs are tight and heavy, the music is pulled together by a sense of momentum and the whole thing delivers imagery straight to the listeners mind. It was released back on November 21st 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via music.thekeplermission.com
End of an Era by The Kepler Mission
‘Totem’ opens the album with a neat crunching riff, before dipping into something quitter and more restrained. The vocals than enter are clean and on pitch, singing lyrics that you would expect to find in a post-rock/prog song. The closing instrumentation is the tracks ultimate highlight… The lowlight however, is the cringe-worthy lyrics at the end of the song, as well as the somewhat generic realms the song touches on. ‘Night Walker’ is much more interesting, the time-signature and suitable voice paints an enjoyable picture for the listener. A beautiful section just around the two minute mark that leads into the chorus captures a great texturing that when utilized by the band, highlights the greatest aspects of their music: their ability on their instruments, and their talent to sequence instrumental passages together. ‘Epona’ opens with chugging guitar and a clever synth and guitar passage that meshes its way over the top, the vocals again sound suitable for the tracks, the lyrics, however, seem to seep back into the cliched tone of ‘Totem’. Around the four minute mark, a reverse breakdown of sorts leads into a chilled out guitar performance, backed carefully by the well written drum backing and the ambience that backs the song up. ‘UFO’ follows a similar trail, the slow burn of the verse, the somewhat moan-y tone of the vocals, the loud and heavier parts.
‘Running Away’ is by far the most interesting track on the second half the release, opening with a massively loud, downtrodden guitar strum and cymbal bash. Followed by a slower more melodic section, the track builds up again and showcases the clean and crisp production of 'End of an Era'. The inclusion of what I believe to be acoustic guitar also makes a noteworthy addition, as does the string-instrument-sounding guitar that dances around in the background of some sections of the song. The lyrics are also much more strong, hinting at a narrative but maintaing the same type of mystic poetic language from previous tracks. The outro, with the high notes of the lead singers pipes meshing well with the crescendo-type mingling of the instruments creates the most awe-inspiring moment of the whole album. ‘As You Wish’ is also a truly enjoyable track, offering a kind of contemplative breath of fresh air: the instruments, light and playful, mix well with the softly powerful vocals. The track also summarises perhaps the strongest characteristic of the album: the performances.
There are certainly elements of 'End of an Era' that somewhat taint its aspirations and thus flattens the heights that the band reach for. Such elements are mainly the lyrical content, the over-produced super clean production, and the same re-used dynamics that mostly occur through the middle of the album. But to say these things tarnish the album would just not be true. For the most part, 'The Kepler Mission' play to their strengths: tight and brilliant performances, well textured songs and a good relationship between the vocals and the other instruments. I’m sure it will appeal to many; its entertaining, its tight and it’s a nice melding of sound.
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: Stupid Cosmonaut
RELEASE DATE: 5th January 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Drone Rock Records
Back in March 2017 UK based sonic experimentalists 'Stupid Cosmonaut' wowed us lot here at Primal Music by unleashing the dark and brooding ambient psych beast that was 'Algol', their first full release on the brilliant 'Drone Rock Records' and one of their most impressive albums to date. Now the band have returned with a six track second outing on the aforementioned label. The totally immersive 'Digitalis' leans heavily into an ambient lunar world filled with hazy electronics, swirling drones, meticulous sequencing and massive swathes of reverberation to bring us something altogether immense. 'Digitalis' gets it's official release on January 5th 2018 with vinyl copies available right now via dronerockrecords.com and digital downloads available from stupidcosmonaut.bandcamp.com
Digitalis by Stupid Cosmonaut
Deep pulsating bass notes, exquisitely sequenced and overlaid with cascading rock fall electronics announce ‘Field Trip’, the albums immense opening salvo. Swirling reverberations cradle huge sprawls of synth that collectively surf ambient atmospherics effortlessly allowing soft percussive patterns to balance precariously atop repetitive claps, tingling lines of keyboard and the consistent surge of blissed out sonic abandonment as we’re swept along on a wave of intimate sonic bliss. Up next, ‘Rephlex’ bounces into audible range tumbling along brilliantly with a thinned out electronic pulse that holds this track together allowing swirling synth swells caught in massive patches of reverb to float and eddy freely. ‘Rephlex’ has martian like atmospherics that hang in suspended animation deftly tied to a beautifully ambient sonic construction. At thirteen minutes long it’s a magical sonic journey, reminiscent of that masterful ambient electronic wizard ‘Vangelis’ and definitely one for the headphones. ‘Offline’ permeates the ether on a melancholic wave of synth and creeping percussion. Off timed drum hits add intense atmosphere as the track builds, introducing deep penetrating waves of breakbeat drenched in reverberating electronic theatrics and dancing lines of warbling synth. It’s a well thought out track that loops and arcs brilliantly through waves of ambient psych.
‘Post Human’ screams 60’s sci-fi as it unfurls shimmering lines of addictive synth drenched in atmosphere. Sequenced percussion runs the gauntlet as instrumentally we move skywards through rings of sonic enrichment, attached to a bouncing bass line and swirling swells of reverb that coalesce as one sentient being before massive chord changes add a kind of ethereal hue to proceedings. This is a majestic track and a firm favourite of mine on the album. Up next the albums penultimate piece enters the sonic arena. ‘Digitalis’ is a fuzzy brute that in it’s opening bars rides a punchy drum pattern drenched in a kind of post-punk hue. Busy sequenced synth lines add turbulent windswept atmospherics just below the mix as those twinkling lines of piano dance and skirt atop deep stabs of synth and fizzing electronics. The album closes out with ‘Sadness And Euphoria’. Melancholic guitar lines meander effortlessly through hazy sonic channels filled with shimmering synth and catchy chord changes as the track builds ever so slowly, adding intense atmosphere with every added musical layer. ‘Sadness And Euphoria’ is deeply ambient and is underscored at times with subtle hints of post-rock and brilliantly executed electronic psychedelia that raises it’s head at precise moments and catches the ear before melding back brilliantly into the mix. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable ending to marvellously executed release.
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.
2017 has been colossal in terms of underground music releases. Nearly all of the bands who we had expected to release new music this year did so and we also had some immense new arrivals to the scene, pushing boundaries and making waves all on their own. With the vast amount of submissions that we get to the blog on a daily basis it was very difficult to review all of them, we tried our best and we endeavoured to condense who we deem top contenders for our best releases of 2017 list down to a reasonable bunch of candidates. End of year lists generate conversations about bands who deserve support from small online publications like ours. So, from the veritable Fuzz Club Records to Edinburgh's 'Morningside Young Team', Sweden's VÅRØ Records to 'Blackspin Records' over in Greece and on into 'Wrong Way Records' over in the UK, Ireland's own Penske Recordings and straight through to the awesome American based Saint Marie Records we've tripped the sonic fantastic with this years 'End Of Year List' bringing you some blistering psych, sublime shoegaze, dreamy dream pop & atmospheric post-rock for your listening pleasure and you didn't even have to vote for one single entry!
Happy Christmas one and all and we'll see you all in 2018 for more fun and frolics!
Primal Music & Radio
Holy Monitor - Holy Monitor
Holy Monitor by Holy Monitor
2017 kicked off with a bang and we were introduced to a band back in January who absolutely blew our minds. Stunning Athens based experimental psych/kraut rock collective 'Holy Monitor' released their debut self-titled full length release filled to the brim with luscious soundscapes that skip through a multiple of different sonic disciplines with blistering aplomb. Released via 'Primitive Music Records' in collaboration with 'Blackspin Records' , this album is a total trip!
Dead Gurus - Acid Bench
ACID BENCH (On Sale 50% Off) by Dead Gurus
Dark and foreboding, menacing and hypnotic, Minnesota based psych aficionados 'Dead Gurus' are no strangers to this modern underground psych scene. The band are made up of Jason Edmonds (Magic Castles), Bennett Johnson, Collin Gorman Weiland (Daughters of the Sun and Dreamweapon) & Ryan Garbes (Wet Hair) and what they collectively create is a no holds barred, deeply entrancing thrill ride through the darker side of the psychedelic spectrum. Their seven track opus entitled 'Acid Bench' was unleashed on February 17th 2017 via the exciting UK based independent record label 'Wrong Way Records'.
Percolator - Sestra
Sestra LP by Percolator
Dublin based three piece 'Percolator' have been creating electronically charged experimental standards drenched in poly-rhythmic kraut rock connotations underscored with subtle flourishes of shoegaze, prog rock & resonating noise since 2012 with the bands core lineup of Ian Chestnutt - guitar/vocal, Eleanor Myler - drums/vocal & John Murphy - bass staying true to the project since its conception. They popped up on our radar back in 2013 with the immense 'Little Demon' EP (which we played tracks from religiously over on our sister radio station Primal Radio) and they returned this year with a staggering collection of eight tracks packaged as 'Sestra', released via Cork based independent record label Penske Recordings.
Wozniak - Courage Reels
Courage Reels by Wozniak
Having wowed us all with their musical presence over previous EP releases, the sonic force that is Edinburgh's noisemakers 'Wozniak' unleashed a stunning collection of tracks in the guise of their highly anticipated debut album deftly titled 'Courage Reels'. This album tumbles through a plethora of immense genres generating enough power through each endearing track to continuously turn industrial strength turbines! Stand out tracks on this release are 'Crush, Shader, Perihelion and Super Panther', but the whole album is immense from start to finish. It was released back in April via the Edinburgh based independent record label 'Morningside Young Team' and worthy of your ears. Recommended!
Todavía - Shyness
Shyness by todavía
Los Angeles based dream pop aficionado Todavía aka self-releasing multi instrumentalist Rhyan Riesgo unleashed a highly anticipated brand new eight track album entitled 'Shyness' via the bands bandcamp page back in April. Todavía's sound is distinctly dreamy, with hushed synth swells, sequenced percussion, swirling guitars and shimmering reverberation that all circumnavigates that almost ethereal vocal tone. This album is luscious, addictive and a very early contender for our year end list.
Has A Shadow - Sorrow Tomorrow
Sorrow Tomorrow by Has A Shadow
Mexico natives 'Has A Shadow' released their sophomore album (their first via Fuzz Club Records) entitled 'Sorrow Tomorrow' back on January 18th 2017. The band create a brand of dark and ritualistic modern day psych gaze that heaves and undulates through swathes of unabashed reverberation and driving instrumentation tinged with menacing gothic tones. This album was so good we gave it 5/5 after just one listen!
Jellyskin - Jellyskin
jellyskin by jellyskin
Leeds based 'Jellyskin' correlated all of their previously released singles, added a splattering of newer material and packaged it all up on what was their very first self-titled physical release. Formed in 2016, 'Jellyskin' exploded onto the underground psych/gaze scene with four consecutive single releases, each one absolutely sublime. Unless you've been hiding under a rock over the past year you would have read about the band on Primal Music's web pages & listened to them over on Primal Radio daily; they are seriously that good. 'Jellyskin' create stunning musical soundscapes that gracefully meander through experimental shoegaze, dream pop, psych rock and it's many, many sub genres. The availability of Jellyskin's singles in one release is a big bonus and we had earmarked these guys very early on as contenders for our best of year end list. Highly recommended!
JuJu - Our Mother Was A Plant
Our Mother Was A Plant by JuJu
JuJu teamed up with one of the best underground independent record labels currently plying it's trade in this ever evolving scene, the immense 'Fuzz Club Records' and announced his sophomore release aptly titled 'Our Mother Was A Plant'. This time around Gioele Valenti dipped his sonic tendrils into a plethora of genres that includes afrobeat, krautrock, glam, post-punk, art rock, shoegaze & drone and it also featured guest appearances from 'Capra Informis', the masked djembe player of Swedish based psych aficionados 'Goat', making this album one of the most anticipated releases of 2017. It got it's full release back in September on 180g vinyl via www.fuzzclub.com and every single one of you needs this album in your collection. It is immense.
Tuath - Things I Don't Know
Things I don't know by Tuath
‘Tuath’ exploded onto the Irish underground scene 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. Last year the band returned with a blistering four track EP entitled ‘Existence Is Futile’ packed full of experimental dreamscapes that skipped from serine psych-rock into blissfully dreamy shoegaze and on into expressive jazz fusion coupled with swirling hypnotically progressive rhythms and sullen space rock hues. Back in January the band created what is their most interesting release to date. 'Things I Don't Know' pulses through four tracks of soaring reverb laced progressions, deeply filled with haunting vocalisations that are collectively underpinned by heavier grunge filled moments, swirling instrumentation and massive swathes of melody. It cemented a place in our minds back then and was always going to appear on our end of year list.
Miniatures - Jessamines
Jessamines by Miniatures
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 had it's full release on the 6th October 2017 via the ever reliable Saint Marie Records.
Helicon - Helicon
Helicon by Helicon
When Glasgow based experimental psych outfit 'Helicon' announced their highly anticipated self-titled debut album we got really excited. With eight EP's under their belts, 'Helicon' have taken the live scene by storm, touring Europe and sharing the stage with some serious heavy hitters including Wooden Shjips, The Warlocks and Dead Skeletons. Helicon's sound is addictive, engagingly dynamic and at times all consuming or otherworldly with melodic eastern tinged psych, swirling drones, mantra like vocalisations and intricately intense guitar work that collectively merges into one almighty sonic attack. Their debut album is officially released on the 8th of December via those good folks over at fuzzclub.com and it is sublime!
Bolywool - From Void To Matter Vol.3
From Void to Matter Volume 3 by Bolywool
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. They started out on a sonic journey back in May 2017 with the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter' via VÅRØ Records . Throughout the three EP's 'Bolywool' went from strength to strength culminating in what we think is their best release to date and a worthy entrant to our end of year tally. 'From Void To Matter Vol. 3' was officially released back on December 1st 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
Holy Monitor : holymonitor.bandcamp.com
Dead Gurus: wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com
Has A Shadow: fuzzclub.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Pretty Lightning
RELEASE: The Rhythm Of Ooze
RELEASE DATE: 1oth November 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
From Saarbrucken in Germany comes the loud and wild crunch of Pretty Lightning: a band whose influences include drone rock, krautrock, stoner rock, blues, alternative rock and most importantly psychedelia. Here they present their third album 'The Rhythm of Ooze', drenched in the structure of hard-stompin’ blues but with the alternative sound of thick psychedelia. Songs are epic journeys of steady rhythm, percussive backings and rolling guitar and bass sections, all amounting to something that steps well above the rest in terms of genre and contemporaries. 'The Rhythm Of Ooze' had it's official release back on the 10th November 2017 via those ever reliable folks over at 'Fuzz Club Records' with digital copies available through bandcamp and vinyl copies through fuzzclub.com
The Rhythm Of Ooze by Pretty Lightning
‘Thunder Mountain Return’ opens the showcase with its percussively sequenced opening of bangs and clattering, following by the slow introduction of other instruments. Over the seven minute long opener Pretty Lightning carve a neat mental picture of rolling through the desert: the greatest addition to the track is the winding organ and guitar combo that keeps the sound primarily focused on the a kind of neon blues music. The drums back everything up tightly and intricately: an engaging opener. ‘Willow Valley Blues’ features the first vocal performance of the album, which is drowned out beneath a kind of fuzz-centric tone, reminiscent of other contemporaries (most notably any band Dan Auerbach features within). The instrumentation is fun and almost borderline pop-infused, while simultaneously featuring a kind of krautrock, motorway rhythm. ‘Tangerine Stream’ turns things down to a more mellow level, still featuring the same vocal FX, but conjures up something interesting for the listener in relation to song writing. Guitars churn, the rhythm section cooley follows, and altogether a catchy melody is established between the players. ‘Loops’ features some interesting timing, hisses and noises, buzzes. The vocals, which come in after the second part of the song suit the tempo and sound; making it one of the most straightforward yet rewarding vocal contributions on the album.
The title track is an album highlight: the psychedelic tempo and beats of the drums along with the less drowned out vocals and the fuzz-induced bass line make for a great mixture and texturing. A similar feel follows on the straightforward rock of ‘This Machine is Running’, which captures the bands more rock-tinged practices. A drum break in the middle of the song also adds a twist of something different as well. One of the most enjoyable tracks on the albums second half is ‘Rainbow Fantasies’ which melds around a laidback guitar riff and some very pleasant humming. The drum kit is absent, in its place is a collection of bells and a tambourine, making the song even more low down and humble in its appearance. The best song on the whole album is ‘Pale Yellow’ a slow burn, spaghetti western shootout soundtrack that features jangling guitar and brilliantly hazy vocals and lyrics. The track rolls along, the percussion loosely jiggering behind the brilliant fuzz and rays of guitar noise vibrating from the instrument. ‘Born to Snooze’, another seven minute feature, doesn’t add up to the rewards of the equal length opener ‘Thunder Mountain Return’, instead become background music that one would happily classify as generic psych rock music.
Thanks to their influences and a true knack of song writing, Pretty Lightning climb well above the generic, average pysch bands that seem to have begun sweltering around the current music climate. My only true criticism would be for the Black Keys style vocal FX, that for the most part sound copied, bland and actually quite irritating. Besides that, the production and song writing is truly strong and as mentioned before, Pretty Lightning successfully rise above the wave of mediocrity that has formed around their chosen genre: a rewarding journey through imaginative sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
RELEASE: Like A Dog
RELEASE DATE: 15th November 2107
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Auckland based shoegaze/dream pop quartet 'Scarp' released their debut four track EP entitled 'Like A Dog' to the masses back on the 15th November 2017 via bandcamp. Their collective sound swirls effortlessly around some intense summery vibes as woozy shoegaze and beautifully entrancing dream pop hued vocal lines permeate noisy passages of layered reverberations. The band are made up of Pia - vocals/bass, Andrew - guitar, Adam - guitar & Howl - drums with EP available to buy/download right now via scarp.bandcamp.com
Like A Dog by Scarp
The EP opens with gentle guitar strums and a warbling lead line that intertwines with the plod of bass and steady percussion as those beautiful vocalisations wash over the listener. 'Youth Large, Size Small' builds slowly as it's instrumentation swoops through reverb hued atmospheric breaks underpinned with simple yet effective drum patterns and brilliantly executed chorus progressions. Up next, 'Air Max' shimmers on a wave of jangling guitars and intense reverb. Melancholic summer vibes explode into a cacophony of colour as this track unfurls it's sonic tendrils and instrumentally envelops another stunning vocal performance. It builds and builds gracefully into a wonderful crescendo driven dream pop standard echoing layers of subtle fuzz, captivating lead lines and rocking steadily on a pin point percussive pattern. 'Air Max' is simply beautiful and probably my favourite track on the entire release.
The slow moving 'Old Age' tip toes along it's steady drum pattern as it's bass line hums beneath a layer of hazy guitar drenched in swathes of reverb. Catchy hook laden chorus changes drag that vocal skywards, hoisting the repetitive verse progressions with it into new territory. 'Old Age' dips into the pop side of alternative rock at times and that's not a bad thing at all. It adds to the overall atmospherics of the piece and hit's home the tracks subject matter brilliantly. The EP closes out with 'Wasps', another slow moving slab of dreamy dream-gaze. Vocally sublime this track has a marvellous ambient hued break that builds brilliantly alongside pounding drums, throbbing bass and soaring lead guitar collectively guided by hazy rhythmic guitar progressions. It's a fantastic ending to a wonderful EP and I can't wait to hear what comes next for this band.
ARTIST: E Gone
RELEASE: Brilliant Apparatus
RELEASE DATE: 24th November
RECORD COMPANY: Self Released
'Brilliant Apparatus' is the latest five track release from the immense Swedish based experimental psych aficionado 'E Gone' aka Daniel Westerlund. 'E Gone' has been wowing us lot here at Primal Music for some time with the way he melds together various musical stylings including electronica, psych, post rock, oriental, dub, raga, ambient and folk to create a stunning cacophony of mesmerising soundscapes that float and permeate layers of impressive sonic production with relative ease. 'Brilliant Apparatus' is self-released and it follows on from Februarys full length LP 'The Third Is A Mountain Which Holds A Dagger'. It's available to buy/download right now via egone.bandcamp.com
Brilliant Apparatus EP by E GONE
In a fizzing haze of twinkling drones and shimmering electronics 'Ectoplasm', the EP's opening salvo ignites and burns sporadically for a short time spilling ambient clouds of reverberating frequencies out into the ether before announcing 'Liber Null Tango', an ambient infused dub electro outing doused in melody and accompanied by deep resonating bass notes that coalesce brilliantly with sequenced synth lines and the constant pitter patter of hi-hats. Sequenced drums pound the senses pulling into the mix cascading synth and low frequency atmospheric drones that sit just below the mix adding weight and depth to the piece. Up next, 'Brilliant Apparatus' bullies its way into audible range bouncing alongside sampled vocalisations and deeply resonating synth lines. Sequenced percussion travels along in breakbeat style dragging angry electronics and film soundtrack accompaniments with it as it meanders brilliantly through ambient breaks, huge sonic builds with screaming crescendos filled with maliciously dark electronics. 'Brilliant Apparatus' is an absolutely fantastic track and possibly my favourite on the entire release.
'Hökarängen' the EP's penultimate piece opens with plinking synth riding dub reggae stylings albeit in an electronic fashion. Off kilter percussion concentrates the sound as panned instrumentation ebbs and flows underneath, jumping in and out of ambient tinged breaks filled with guitar stabs and lines of undulating lead that intertwines effortlessly with layers of synth, sequenced electronics and the heady pull of reverberation. The 'Brilliant Apparatus' EP closes out with 'The Autumn Equinox of 1993'. Floating instrumental drones glimmer and dance on top of pulsating electronics and celestial reverberations as intense melodic psychedelia greets this listener, rising and falling brilliantly through magnificent production and stunning organ swells as sporadic percussive hits permeate the ether from far below the mix. It's a fascinating ending to what is an interesting EP.
RELEASE DATE: 8th December 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Glasgow based experimental psych outfit 'Helicon' have announced their highly anticipated self-titled debut album to the masses. With eight EP's under their belts, 'Helicon' have taken the live scene by storm, touring Europe and sharing the stage with some serious heavy hitters including Wooden Shjips, The Warlocks and Dead Skeletons. Helicon's sound is addictive, engagingly dynamic and at times all consuming or otherworldly with melodic eastern tinged psych, swirling drones, mantra like vocalisations and intricately intense guitar work that collectively merges into one almighty sonic attack. 'Helicon' get's it's full release on December 8th 2017 via the ever reliable 'Fuzz Club Records' with pre-orders available on deluxe edition vinyl (limited to 100 copies) and standard vinyl (limited to 400 copies) over on fuzz club.com and digitally from fuzzclub.bandcamp.com
A pulsating motorik wave of driving sonic abandonment announces the arrival of ‘Devil On Your Tongue’, the opening salvo on this sublime collection of tracks. It’s rhythmic progressions envelope the senses as they swirl menacingly through layers of fizzing synth, throbbing bass and driving guitars created primarily to carry those mantra like vocalisations into and out of crawling cavernous breaks that are filled to the brim with heady clouds of resonating sounds and atmospheric reverberations. ‘Valmiki’ swirls into ether tumbling gracefully through the shimmering sounds of luscious sitar underpinned by a steady drum pattern, the plink of fragile synth and rolling guitars. The pace soon quickens introducing droning instrumentation to the mix, echoing brilliantly as sonic frequencies stack on top of one another, gaining momentum with each tempestuous turn, sucking the listener into a broiling mass of stunning sonic sound waves. ‘Valmiki’ is a masterful track, highly infectious and deeply entrancing. Up next, ‘Seraph’ the albums lead single, drones into life meandering on the sweet sounds of melodic sitar and metronomic percussion. Shimmering guitars accompanied by deep throbbing bass frequencies permeate the mix, adding a heady atmosphere before dragging those stunning vocalisations into audible range whilst undulating brilliantly through layers of sticky reverberation.
‘Drinking Of You’ fizzes into life riding a sequenced synth line accompanied by hum of bass, subtle guitar and rolling percussion. A dark and oppressive atmosphere starts to build, and it seeps into every single fibre of the track, erupting in stages into a heaving mass of angry instrumentation that undulates into periods of calm and at times can slip into deep dark trenches filled with raging frequencies and tinged with a kind of lysergic sonic energy. It’s a bloody impressive track that can both scare and amaze all at once. ‘The Bold Yin’ momentarily drones into life pulling blissed out synths and shaking percussion with it as it tumbles through the ether. Heavenly vocals float atop shimmering sounds topped up with swirling organ swells and resonating acoustic guitar as catchy chord changes drenched in reverb pull searing lines of lead guitar into close orbit allowing them to lick and whip the piece into shape. ‘The Bold Yin’ morphs into a very different animal half way though as ‘Helicon’ move up through the gears and inject an acid tinged hue on proceedings. Driving instrumentation swirls and dances alongside senses pummelling percussion, collectively building into an unstoppable sonic behemoth. Up next, my favourite track on the entire release is let loose to fuck with peoples minds. ’Teenage Murder’ is an immensely addictive, crawling, metronomic beast drenched in dark and oppressive psych induced atmospherics. A processional drum beat holds court here forming a bedrock of sound waves capable enough to carry surging synth swells, bubbling electronics, howling guitars and throbbing bass frequencies, drenched in sullen reverberation and deftly enveloping that absolutely immense vocal performance. Resonating synths intertwine with spine tingling tambourine hits and wrap themselves around huge sprawling chord changes as this track is dragged through walls of stunning effects and intense production with relative ease. ‘Teenage Murder’ is infectious and will have you replaying it for days.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘French As Fuck’ unfurls it’s sonic tendrils floating through hazy walls of esoteric psych. Luscious sitar lines loop and arc through pulses of organ and fizzing synth as subtle guitars rumble and move alongside cascading bass frequencies and steady percussion. Melodic vocal lines hover atop repetitive progressions and work through shimmering verse patterns with ease as chorus parts explode into a vivid kaleidoscope of colour. ‘French As Fuck’ is a wonderful blissed out psychedelic excursion into the sonic ether. The album closes out with ‘Ring The Albanian’. It’s opening salvo’s shake and shudder into audible range bellowing violently on a layer of growling guitars, shimmering sitar and senses pummelling percussion. A throbbing bass line meanders underfoot as howling guitars take centre stage building maliciously into a blisteringly explosive cacophony of noise accompanied by soaring synth and huge percussive breaks. It's a marvellous end to an absolutely immense album.
ARTIST: Sun System
RELEASE: Strange Ways We Meet
RELEASE DATE: 1st December 2017
Arizona based 'Sun System' unleash their brilliant debut four track EP entitled 'Strange Ways We Meet' to the underground fraternity on December 1st 2017. With a sound that sits firmly in the alt-shoegaze stable 'Sun System' collectively inject shimmering melodic melancholy into every single track on this EP telling stories throughout and bringing the listener on a sonic journey of discovery with each passing instrumental progression. The band are made up of Cory – vocals/guitar, Nathan – guitar, Curt – bass, Christopher – keys and Lorenzo – drums. The EP gets it's full release on iTunes and Spotify from December 1st but you can check out some more of their singles right now via sunsystem.bandcamp.com
Shimmering guitar progressions glide and echo through layers of melodically hazy reverberation as ‘Smiles With No Teeth’ unwinds itself and shows us it’s inner workings. Throbbing bass frequencies ride a turbulent percussive pattern collectively leading a sublime vocal performance in and out of smooth verse transitions and noisy chorus parts with relative ease. This track builds, builds and builds into a cacophony of blissed out noise before cascading into a marvellously melodic finale. Up next, ‘Glimmer Man’ floats into the ether on swells of synth and jangling guitar that gracefully envelope another impressive vocal performance. Sun System’s shoegaze tendencies are laid bare for all to hear on this track as it rises and falls through stages of impeccable songwriting filled with effervescent layers of addictive noise.
The EP’s penultimate piece is a melodic, slow moving slice of sonic melancholy. ‘Alone Together’ is beautifully intense and it meanders through yearning and thought provoking verse progressions, pulling the listener with it as it tumbles into chorus parts filled with soaring tumults of glittering noise. It’s a wonderful track and possibly my favourite on the entire release. ‘Strange Ways We Meet’ closes out with ‘Scooter (feat. Travis Williams)’ and we’re pulled into an opening salvo of lo-fi guitars and and steady drum patterns. It’s not long before this track explodes into a kaleidoscope of noise, calming down at times to allow us catch little snippets of songwriting brilliance. There’s also a subtle dream-pop hue emanating from it that is rather interesting but for the most part instrumentally it skirts close to alternative or post-rock. All in all it’s this EP has an interesting mix of sounds and some brilliant passages of songwriting all underscored with some fantastic production values. It will be interesting to hear what comes next from ‘Sun System’.
ARTIST: The Cabin Fever
RELEASE: Exercise The Demon
RELEASE DATE: 23rd January 2018
Los Angeles based experimental dark gazing trio ‘The Cabin Fever’ have just announced their brand new sophomore release brilliantly titled 'Exercise The Demon'. This brand new eight track EP gets it's full release on January 23rd 2018 and it follows on from their 2016 debut album ‘Enjoy Yourself’. The band are made up of Sean Moriarty (vocals/guitar), Joel Bedolla (guitar) and Tripp Beam (drums) and 'Exercise The Demon' is available to pre-order right now via thecabinfever.bandcamp.com
Exercise the demon EP by The Cabin Fever
The tumble of slow paced percussion announces the arrival of track one ‘B-L-S-H’ and it’s soon accompanied by the melodic pull of heady bass frequencies and fuzzy guitar squall. There’s a deeply melancholic vibe coursing through the The Cabin Fever’s overall sound that’s inherently captivating and the arrival of those sublime vocalisations adds weight to that statement. They instantly suck you in and initiate a snapshot of modern times and the many pit-falls that lie beneath the blank facade of everyday life. They float effortlessly in amongst melody strewn lanes filled with catchy chord changes, undulating lead lines and the sweet pull of violin. An impressive opening salvo. Up next, ‘Simon Says’ shimmers on a trembling wave of tambourine and almost droning instrumentation that rises and falls through sullen verse parts that envelope another great vocal track and build brilliantly into driving chorus progressions filled with soaring lead lines and busy percussion.
‘Trucrime’ chugs into existence strapped to a crawling guitar progression and a slow processional snare hit that ricochets atop a pinging delay. It’s vocal track meanders brilliantly through 80’s themed synth lines and layers of hazy reverberation, cruising through catchy hook laden highs and dipping below the ether into addictively dark post-shoegaze atmospherics. ‘His People’ pulses and weaves a repetitive sonic web filled with off beat drum patterns and crawling guitar progressions underpinned with streamlined synth and layered production theatrics whilst ‘Exercise The Demon’ is dark and atmospheric. It moves extremely slow attached to the pull of intense guitars, it’s underlying strings and the melancholic tone of it’s lead vocals that keep the listener focusing intently on their every move. This track builds brilliantly. In fact, it has a subtle movie soundtrack quality and introduces it’s layered instrumentation as each verse progression passes adding colour when needed and slowing down at times to highlight lyrical narrative.
The Cabin Fever included a fantastic bonus track on this EP entitled ‘Tony’s Song’ that swirls into audible range on 60’s sci-fi synth swells and plodding bass progressions riding an almost metronomic percussive pattern. It explodes into a melting pot of sounds including resolute hand claps, cascading synth, hazy shoegaze hued layers of resonating guitars and the outright addictiveness of those sublime vocalisations. The EP closes out with two alternate mixes of both ‘B-L-S-H’ and ‘Exercise The Demon’. If that kind of thing floats your boat then these are for you. However if like me you don’t see the point in including them, then the EP finished up on that brilliant bonus track. All being said, ‘Exercise The Demon’ is an impressive collection of tracks loaded with layers of atmosphere and impressive melancholic abandonment.
ARTIST: The Veldt
RELEASE: Thanks To The Moth And Areanna Rose
RELEASE DATE: 3rd November 2017
RECORD COMPANY: sonaBLAST! Records
Of the past while in modern music, I can think of no other band like 'The Veldt'. They are (as they like to say) virtually unclassifiable and against the practice of being pigeon holed or tied to a particular scene; against conformity and against rules and regulations. They are also (in my humble opinion) possibly the most underrated band in past memory of alternative music in America. Their songs are beautiful yet nostalgic, comforting yet retrospective; simple yet genius. They originated years ago, their history forming around the musicality of twin brothers Daniel and Danny Chavis who single handedly punched through the burgeoning dream pop scene of Chapel Hill in the 90's and presented themselves as one of the most original bands to come from the underground scene in the USA. Over the years they were dropped and picked up by a succession of labels, toured internationally with some of the biggest names in the world and released a string of amazingly beautiful albums, one of which, 'Afrodesiac', I personally regard as one of the greatest albums of the 90's. Here then, years after a stint under the Apollo Heights moniker and following up last years dreamy-trap influenced The Drake Equation, is a new EP by 'The Veldt' entitled 'Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose': a collection of older tracks reanimated and re-recorded from the bands past catalogue. And while generally a re-visit to the past can lead to awkward and somewhat ‘has-been’ attitudes, 'Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose' is the exact opposite. It stands as a dreamy reminder of how important the band has and continues to be. The EP had it's full release back on the 3rd November 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via theveldtmusic.bandcamp.com
Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose by The Veldt
The EP opens with one of the greatest songs the band have ever written in their entire career: ‘The Colour of Love is Blue’. If you ever get the opportunity to listen to 1994's 'Afrodesiac' you will notice a deep and immersive theme of nostalgia running through the music, a friend of mine coined the term (when listening to their magnum opus ‘Heather’) ‘downtown 90’s New York dreaming music’; this theme continues strongly on ‘The Colour of Love is Blue’. Rehashed, the song now features a slower and steadier drum beat, coloured and contextualised neatly with hummingly shoegaze-echoed guitar tones and an even higher vocal performance by Daniel Chavis. This restrung version maintains the same magic of the original, while also utilizing a different mood via the technical wizardry of programmer/bass player Hayato Nakao… The breathy, emotive pipes of Chavis proclaiming the words ‘we’ll be happy in the end’ is enough to send chills down your spine. ‘Black and Blue’ follows with a much noiser and alt-rock base: the song reflects a claustrophobic yet mediative mood that echoes on its brilliant chorus. The guitar rises to the top of the mix, presenting impressive playing and musical texture by Danny Chavis, backed by the somewhat simple but effective thump of the drums.
‘Fit to be Tied’ harkens back to a similar mood that could be found on some of the Apollo Heights releases: atmospheric and the slow build of the instrumentation paint a beautifully dream-pop cencric picture. This track most predominately captures the bands new found practice of mixing technological-based production with the more traditional method of musical texturing. Often ignored in the music of both The Veldt and Apollo Heights are the lyrics, which when studied on ‘Fit to be Tied’ make one wonder why this is the case… The chorus, which Chavis declares with an original mix of power and contemplation, adds another level of depth to the music again. ‘Camus’ turns down the lights even more so, sounding like its original inception dipped in neon lighting: the trap-beats that ran rampart on The Drake Equation dance around in a pan-motion at the back of the music. Where the other tracks on this EP could be labelled somewhere between soul, shoegaze and dream pop, ‘Camus’ stands almost as a down tempo funk song, melding elements of R’n’B with ethereal wave-sounding guitars. If anything, ‘Camus’ perfectly captures a band in the midst of wearing their influecnes (positively) on their sleeve. ‘Dakini’ dives deep into the bands interest in hip-hop, the backing drums and programming bounce boomstatically like the backing to an East Coast hip hop mixtape. The vocals, which dance around in the backing of the instrumentation, mix playfully with the wizzes and the bangs of the various sample, keyboard, feedback sounds through the mix. ‘I Like the Way You Talk’ is a skeletal yet bouncily dreamy take that revisits the bands noisegaze aesthetics with a wall-of-sound approach to the backing of the music. The breathy and somewhat relaxing vocals and drum balance that snakes through the verse is also a refreshing contrast to the aforementioned noise and feedback. A bizarre and off-kilter remix of ‘Dakini’ appears to mix things up, which sounds somewhat out of place with the other songs on the EP…. But it remains all the while enjoyable.
Back in the day, a key player in the foundational structure of 'The Veldt' both musically and stylistically was one of their heroes and generally critically acclaimed producer and musician Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)… Here on this EP his production on the opening couple of tracks are noticeably excellent and should be praised. The other tracks also retain a fantastic open air feeling of soaring, thanks to production from 'The Veldt' themselves. Although an EP of past tracks rediscovered could have come together in an awkward fashion, the EP is instead a happy and rewarding revisit into the past. I personally am thankful that songs like ‘The Colour of Love’ and ‘Camus’, which are extremely difficult to find (even in the YouTube age), have been reanimated, re-recorded and re-released to showcase how genius they truly are. Altogether I can comfortably say that 'Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose' is a gratifying and refreshing reminder; its true appeal is in the fact that it combines the past with The Veldt's new and re-stylised approach to writing music. It is a sign that one of the worlds most interesting and most engaging bands is still at it, and that the music they continue to create is as rewarding as ever. All I can hope for now is that the rest of the world turns their head and hears this band, hears their beauty, hears their creativity and most importantly, hears their terrifically brilliant sound.