RELEASE: Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018
RELEASE DATE: 11th May 2018
RECORD COMPANY: vipchoyo-sound-factory / seashellrecords
In recent years Italy has been leading the European charge when it comes to the resurgence of the underground shoegaze sound. Italogaze, as it has been coined, has brought a fresh aspect to this much maligned sound with most of the bands within the scene embracing newer sounds and recording techniques such as modern psych rock, synthwave, vaporwave or even darkwave and deploying them alongside those traditional alternative sounds like postpunk, noise rock and shoegaze resulting in some fantastic pieces of music. In an attempt to highlight some of the immense music coming out of the underground Italian shoegaze scene right now, two Italian-based independent record labels - vipchoyo sound factory (Naples) & seashell records (Palermo) have jointly released a compendium of tracks by some of the most significant bands of the current scene. This new compilation entitled 'Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018' aims to be both a representative sample of the so-called Italogaze sound and a jump off point for new listeners. Released back on May 11th 2018 this thirteen track compilation is available to buy/download right now from both vipchoyo-sound-factory.bandcamp.com & seashellrecords.bandcamp.com respectively.
Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018 by Various Artists
Up first are Milan-based 'In Her Eye' with a track lifted from their forthcoming long player 'Change', penned in for full release on June 1st 2018. 'Closer To Me' is a woozy fuzzed out slice of melody strewn, alternative led shoegaze with catchy chorus changes and soaring lines of lead guitar. It has subtle nods here and there to the forbearers of the shoegaze sound but there's a modern edge mingling in amongst those solid song structures. Up next, Rome-based 'Weird.' unleash the sublime 'Forevermore', a shimmering cloud of sonic melancholy filled with hazy passages of dreamy instrumentation and floating vocalisations whilst up next and hailing from Milan, 'The Mystic Morning' unveil 'Follow The Sun', a brilliant alternative leaning jangle of intricate guitars and steady percussion swirling around duel vocalisations that lead the listener into that magnificently hazy chorus charge. Next, Cosenza-based new wave/synth-gaze trio 'Electric Floor' bring a sound that leans into the experimental side of post punk mixed with the darker side of new wave and underpinned by a distinctly modern electronic edge to the compilation with the shimmering 'I Made It Up' whilst Naples-based alt-gazers 'Marys Restless Dream' unleash the jangling 'Crazy', a blissed out sonic thrill ride filled with mesmerisingly catchy instrumental progressions that ride woozy layers of reverberation with relative ease.
'Lay' bound aimlessly into the sonic arena straddling a tumbling percussive assault buffered by screaming feedback and the constant hum of bass. leaning heavily into the fuzzier side of shoegaze this track is a definite highlight on the release whilst up next, the Milan-based 'Obree' are comprised of Sara Poma (Emily Plays) and Fabrizio De Felice (Bialogard/Huge Molasses Tank Explodes). Their collective sound echoes a modern edge with elements of synth wave and shoegaze all wrapped up in huge swathes of melancholy. 'Breath' is simply beautiful and a serious recommendation from us lot here at Primal Music. Neapolitan dream-gazers 'Stella Diana' are represented here by 'Iris', a track lifted off their forthcoming and highly anticipated new album '57', penned in for full release on the 25th May 2018. ‘Iris’ jangles into the ether on repetitive lines of melodic guitar as it’s twinkling swells of synth dance and ebb through sticky clouds of reverb. I can hear some early post-punk connotations of The Cure echoed within it’s intricate guitar lines, some new wave leanings reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and even some subtle Sisters Of Mercy vibes going on here also. ‘Iris’ builds ever so slowly and it gently leads it’s listeners into a peaceful break before exploding into a multitude of colours as we tumble through clouds of raging instrumentation and on into it’s blissful finale. Up next, Pisa-based quartet 'Klam' play post punk with a shoegaze feel, blending there sound with influences from 80's and 90's punk and indie rock. 'Begging For Money On Fb Chat' rattles on a layer of sequenced percussion as subtle swells of synth and intricate guitars envelope that impressive vocal take.
Hailing from Milan, 'Novanta' aka Manfredi Lamartina has been wowing the underground Italogaze scene since his earliest inception back in 2011. Constructing well attuned soundscapes that soar through layers of synth-wave, shoegaze, electronic dream-pop and alternative sounds, 'Novanta' is represented here by the beautiful 'Lovers', a sequential, slow moving, synth led monolith whilst up next 'Yellow Traffic Light' hail from Turin and create some stunning passages of music. Their debut EP 'Dreamless' was one of my favourite releases of 2014 and I'm so happy to see them on this compilation today.'Fukuoka No(の)Future' is a driving slice of melodic repetitiveness that balances precariously on top of that steady bedrock of percussion. Hard hitting vocalisations swirl and ebb as spellbinding webs of golden hued guitars are spun capturing lengthy sonic refractions that echo through layers of simmering reverb with ease. It's a sublime track and quite possibly my favourite on this entire compilation. The albums penultimate piece comes from 'Bestrass', a postpunk project from Bologna formed back in 2013 by Leonardo Cannatella - vocals/guitar, Iacopo Palasciano - guitar & Lorenzo Brogi - drums. Their four track debut EP 'The Seasons' was released back in 2016 and they are represented here by 'Rain', a slow moving, atmospherically charged slice of postpunk steeped voraciously in wide scoped reverberations with subtle hints of soothing post-rock. The album closes out with an alternate take of 'Ripples' by Modena-based psychgazers 'Rev Rev Rev'. For those of you new to the sounds of 'Rev Rev Rev' they combine the well worn sonic structures of shoegaze with expansive modern psych sections that veer off very, very slowly to the edge of doom, and back again. Their sonic palette uses fuzz in all its colours, from bright trebles to muddy, abrasive darkness and this in turn allows them to paint relevant sounding sonic soundscapes that do not disappoint. Quite simply, 'Rev Rev Rev' are one of the most important bands to have ever come out of the modern day underground Italogaze scene and I'm so happy to see them represented here on this release.
We usually steer clear of various artist compilations here at Primal Music simply because more often than not they are full of self-serving cover versions, misrepresented music genres or are just monumentally dull in quality. But every now and again something sublime comes out of the ether that we simply have to comment on. 'Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018' is a captivating celebration of a vibrant underground music scene filled with far seeing musicians & personalities who together have created something altogether magical. In my opinion, this compilation is one of the most important Italogaze releases so far. It incapsulates a music scene on the rise and will surprise some of the older shoegaze fans whilst captivating all of the new ones.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream-pop, postpunk & 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 genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Stella Diana
RELEASE DATE: 25th May 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory / Siete Señoritas Gritando
Neapolitan dream-gazers 'Stella Diana' have been one of our favourite Italogaze outfits since their sublime debut long player '41.61.93' dropped way back in February 2014. We've championed their every release since then, supported singles via our earliest radio shows and continuously spin music from them 24/7 over on our sister radio station - Primal Radio. You could say we've been hooked from the very early stages of their development. Formed back in 1998 by Dario Torre - vocals/guitar, Giacomo Salzano - bass guitar and later joined by Giulio Grasso on drums they wear a multitude of sonic influences on their sleeves. Steeped in shimmering sounds and referencing seminal shoegaze bands such as Ride and Lush, the dark-wave atmospherics of Bauhaus and Joy Division and even the new-wave structures reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and The Chameleons, 'Stella Diana' are a deeply entrancing listen. Their intricate song structures weave intertwining sonics filled with a kind of melancholic atmosphere that never ever disappoints. Now the band have returned with what is their best long player to date. Simply titled '57', this eleven track opus delivers a more mature sounding 'Stella Diana', firmly establishing them as one of the most important bands to ever have come out of the underground Italogaze scene. '57' has it's official release on May 25th 2018 via both the Italian based independent record label Vipchoyo Sound Factory and the Spanish based Siete Señoritas Gritando respectively. It's available to pre-order right now on various formats via stelladiana.bandcamp.com
57 by Stella Diana
With a swirl of twinkling guitars underpinned by effervescent harmonics and a rush of delayed reverberation the opening permutations of ‘Lurine Rae’ completely captivate the senses. Like a child opening gifts on Christmas morning I tentatively wait for that typical ‘Stella Diana’ sound, that intricate web of frequencies that I’ve come to know over their previous releases; and they do not disappoint here. There’s a heady rush of fuzzy instrumentation as the track blissfully erupts into a kaleidoscope of colour, unfurling it’s sullen sonic tendrils with each sonic progression, introducing busy percussion and that addictive pull of bass before the vocals arrive floating in a hazy air of atmospherics. There’s a specific art-form to writing and painting melody into songs. ‘Stella Diana’ have that majestic art form perfected and it is highlighted in abundance here. Up next, ‘Naos’ spins into existence trapped in a swirling droning haze as slow moving percussion keeps a steady tempo as humming bass frequencies bubble and arc below layers of hazy guitar that collectively envelope another impressive vocal performance courtesy of the masterful Mr.Dario Torre. There are refreshing hints of post-punk, shoegaze and even psych-gaze here that are invigorating and are sure to catch the ear of older fans of the band. My only criticism is that the track is too short, but maybe I’m just being selfish!
‘Iris’ jangles into the ether on repetitive lines of melodic guitar as it’s twinkling swells of synth dance and ebb through sticky clouds of reverb. A slow percussive swagger accompanies floating vocalisations out into the mix as throbbing bass frequencies hover in a kind of suspended sonic animation. I can hear some early post-punk connotations of The Cure echoed within it’s intricate guitar lines, some new wave leanings reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and even some subtle Sisters Of Mercy vibes going on here also. ‘Iris’ builds ever so slowly and it gently leads it’s listeners into a peaceful break before exploding into a multitude of colours as we tumble through clouds of raging instrumentation and on into it’s blissful finale. It’s a definite album highlight for me. The psychedelic incantations of ‘Harrison Ford’ are amazing and there’s a definite psych-pop tinge to this track that will have you harking back to those early melodic tones of The Stone Roses or even the melodic intensity of The La’s. It’s big, it’s brash, catchy as hell and it’s as addictive as they come whilst ‘Ludwig’ has hints of sullen dark-wave undulating just below it’s atmospheric exterior. Repetitive bass lines hum on top of synth and slow moving percussion as swirling lines of guitar ebb & flow through layers of reverb, pushing ripples of frequential refractions out into the sonic ether with each twist as it’s haunting vocalisations precariously balance on each pulse of sound. Again ‘Stella Diana’ use catchy chord changes here, building the track step by step until eventually it erupts into it’s magnificent finale.
‘Elaine’ is deeply melancholic, with it’s sampled beginnings, intricate golden tinged lines of guitar, those intense swells of synth and that brilliant addition of saxophone, this track is absolutely immense and it harkens back to some of Stella Diana’s earlier releases. It morphs into something altogether magical and is another highlight for me on this release. ‘Do Androids ...’ tumbles into audible range on a rolling drum pattern as cascading lines of bass cling to distinctly spacey progressions of synth and those rambling lines of lead guitar. Stella Diana’s fascination with all thing sci-fi are pushed to the fore here and there are some mesmerising passages of hazy instrumentation to lose yourself in whilst the slow moving opening bars of ‘Mrs Darling’ are intensely captivating. Reverberating layers of guitar float into the ether as the subtle pull of bass and that slow moving percussive assault accompany haunting lines of vocal out into the unknown. Reminiscent at times to Ride’s - Dreams Burn Down, 'Mrs Darling' is simply breathtaking.
‘Der Sandmann’, the albums lead track, sounds like it could have appeared on the bands last album - ‘Nitcrosis’. Inherently melodic and intensely atmospheric, it meanders brilliantly on a repetitive bass line sporadically whipped by swells of synth, subtle pulses of percussion and that ever present sting of lead guitar as Dario Torre’s yearning vocalisations swirl through clouds of atmospheric reverberations with relative ease. ‘Der Sandmann’ is absolutely sublime and it leads us effortlessly into the albums penultimate piece. ‘Lost Children’ shimmers on waves of cascading bass frequencies as slow moving percussion bellows just below the mix allowing beautifully intense progressions of guitar to cushion haunting vocalisations as they push through surging waves of golden hued production before disappearing from view completely and we fade out on the ever present repetitive hum of bass whilst the albums's outro entitled 'Caves' is a squally synth led slice of cinematic ambience and a wonderful closing piece on what is another spellbinding album by one of the best bands to ever have come out of the Italian underground music scene.
‘Stella Diana’ have a unique talent of not only writing catchy, melodically sound and instantly enjoyable songs but they also have a knack for pulling some of their various musical influences together, morphing them, twisting them and meshing them into something altogether new sounding. And just when you think you have their sound pinned down they change it up and confuse you all over again. With each of their album releases this band have continued to impress. Where some of the well known bands within this worldwide underground scene have fallen short as of late, 'Stella Diana' continue to fly the flag for the never waning Italogaze movement. In closing, ’57’ is absolutley immense and has instantly highlighted itself as my favourite release of 2018 so far.
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 genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Electric Floor
RELEASE DATE: 6th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records
Cosenza based new wave/synth-gaze trio 'Electric Floor' have announced their highly anticipated new EP 'Fader' released via the ever prolific Italian based independent record label 'Vipchoyo Sound Factory'. With a sound that echoes the experimental side of post-punk melded together with the darker side of new wave and underpinned by a modern electronic edge 'Electric Floor' have the ability to push the sonic envelope with their music. The band were formed in 2009 and are made up of Emanuele Chiarelli - vocals/guitar, Simone Costantino De Luca - programming/keys & Fabio Cosentino - bass. 'Fader' gets its full release on the 6th March 2017 and is available to pre-order on various formats right now from vipchoyo-sound-factory.bandcamp.com
Electric Floor -FADER- by electric floor
The EP opens up with it's lead single 'Bluedive'. It charges into the sonic ether on a bedrock of driving bass frequencies and sequenced percussion as the bleep and whirr of synth squall echoes deep within a bubble of reverberation. It's vocals are placed meticulously to the fore as all around them swirl in a kind of sonic gravitational pull, looping and arcing through waves of shimmering synth swells and subliminal guitar lines. 'Bluedive' is a feast of melodious frequencies that are guaranteed to thrill. Up next, 'Sullen Dress' shimmers and swirls in a haze of jittering synth draped with a modern dream pop twist. Beautiful guitar lines dance and shimmy along sequenced percussion deftly cushioning that impressive vocal line, underscored at times by duel backing vocals and soaring instrumentation. 'Borderline' pulses and fizzes along turbulent synth swells, the throbbing hum of bass frequencies and undulating sequenced percussion. It builds in momentum, swinging into massive swathes of reverberation and dragging distinctly passionate piano stabs and another brilliantly executed vocal with it as it jumps off into the ether. Stunning production underscores some impressive instrumentation here as it weaves and bobs along its predestined melancholic course, skimmed at times by soaring guitar lines.
Up next, the EP unleashes it's penultimate piece and probably my favourite track on the entire release. 'M31' surges into audible range on cascading baselines, sequenced bleeps and whirrs and steadying percussion. It's vocal lines sweep in, catching this listeners attention before scooping him off his feet only to then soar into the ether accompanied by soaring waves of instrumental laced reverb and raging guitars. 'Electric Floor' have a unique ability to squeeze so many different genres into one complete sound and it is really evident on 'M31'.There are hints new wave, dream pop, subtle layers shoegaze and driving post-punk coursing through this tracks inner core that make it the stand out track for me. The EP then closes out with 'Nosedive'. It's probably the most modern sounding electronic track on the EP if I'm honest but it does have some incredible bass lines running through its central spine and it finishes in spectacular fashion, as all of it's separate components amalgamate into one driving sonic maelstrom. A decent ending to a rather interesting EP.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
by Primal Music
RELEASE DATE: 29th April 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory
Back at the end of 2014 I was presenting an online radio show covering shoegaze and its many sub-genres when I came across a fantastic little Italian based band who fused a plethora of musical genres together to create something rather special. This collective of Neapolitan musicians melded together a heady brew of driving post-punk, melodic dream-pop and hazy shoegaze to produce musical soundscapes so mesmerising that they literally took my breath away. Stella Diana optimise everything that is great with the underground Italian shoegazing scene and they have been steadily building up a massive worldwide fan base every since those early radio show days. Now the band have returned with a blistering full length follow up to 2015’s stunning five track EP ‘Alhena’ via Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records. This new album is called ‘Nitocris’ and it is another positive step in the evolution of a band who may be involved in this reinvented shoegazing scene right now, but who also have the ability to stand out on their own ‘musically’ as we spin into the sonic unknown.
Nitocris by stella diana
The album opens up with ‘Sofia’. Shimmering guitar lines usher in the atmospheric synth swells as the track pushes ripples into the sonic waves around it. It shuffles on a sold bed of percussion as it builds into a wall beautifully golden intensity. Vocally sublime, it unleashes a layered wall of reverberating brilliance and announces the return of a band on the cusp of greatness. Track two, ‘M.9’ is musically reminiscent of ‘Slowdive’ with its emotive walls of reverb until that impressive vocal line adds a subtle injection of brilliant post-punk. It explodes into its chorus progressions with aplomb intertwining with that melodic bass line that adds addictiveness into proceedings. Thoroughly enjoyable. Up next the dark and brooding ‘F.u. Orionis’ musically screams early ‘Cure’ at me as it works through its sonic gears, skulking like a sullen love sick teenager before its soaring chorus parts usher in Stella Diana of old. This is modern day post-gazing at its very, very best and possibly my favourite track on this entire release.
Swirling, droning frequencies circumnavigate that tremulous guitar structure as whispering vocals stream into audible range. Like some sort of modern day Sci-Fi soundtrack the shuffling percussion and throbbing baseline of ‘Sulpher’ carries that impressive vocal like a sonic chariot ambling into battle. This is a beautifully atmospheric track that heaps layer upon layer of sonic frequencies on top of each other to create a blissful wall of golden hued sound. Up next, ‘Aphrodia’ is reminiscent of ‘Drive Blind’ era RIDE with its heavy bass frequencies & shuffling drum patterns coupled with those fuzzy guitars and that barely audible vocal progression. Its only when the synth swells arrive that you get intense attack on your senses and you begin to hear everything in brilliant sonic technicolor. Track six begins with a stunning baseline! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is stuffed to the brim with melody. This for me is the that ‘Next Step’ in a bands evolution that I previously spoke about! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is a completely new side to Stella Diana. It’s song structuring and every single instrument swirling within it is geared towards melody, with the studio gadgetry shaved back and the fuzzy guitars withheld Stella Diana are free to express themselves in a whole new light. It’s a brilliantly written track and worthy of your ears.
Up next is the first single to be lifted from the album. ‘Dedu’n’ is a bass driven atmospheric monolith that skips through multiple layers of reverberating guitar frequencies with aplomb. It’s pounding drum patterns and subtle synth swells carry the entire track as the vocal hangs in a haze of suspended animation and is laid bare for all to hear. The albums penultimate track is called ‘Aya Ray’. A beautifully melodic and thoroughly addictive bass line is this tracks centre piece as all around it shimmers and meanders through intense layers of fuzzy reverberating guitars. Again, the vocals are impressive and the drum track grounds the entire piece as the track skips through an apocalyptic post-punk world, littered with the bones of past shoegazing stalwarts! The albums closer builds from its very first notes. ‘J. Carpenter’ has obvious cinematic connotations as it heaves and lurches through its reverberating layers of hazy atmosphere. There’s an air of post-rock emanating from it too, as instrumentally it swirls around that brilliant vocal sample and carries on into its stunning finale. A fitting end to a game changing album!
Bravo, Stella Diana!
The ‘Nitocris LP’ Had it's official release on the 29th April 2016 via Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records and is available to buy/download right now from: stelladiana.bandcamp.com
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE: Alhena EP
RELEASE DATE: November 27th 2015
It’s hard to believe just how far ‘Stella Diana’ have come since their last full release '41 61 93' back in 2014. I know that they’ve appeared on various shoegaze compilations since then with various covers etc & that they have just penned a new record deal but leaving all of that aside, this band have continued collectively to create a beautiful concoction of mesmerising & melodically astute shoegaze while vocally using their home language, rather impressively I might add, as a method with which to transport their sonic message to their fairly immense worldwide fanbase. That in itself should be applauded in my opinion & thats even before we peel back the outer layers of this latest outing – ‘Alhena’, released via their newly acquired independent record label ‘Vipchoyo Sound Factory’.
Alhena by Stella Diana
Scientifically speaking the meaning dictated for ‘Alhena’ is – “Its an evolving star exhausting the supply of hydrogen at its core and has entered the sub-giant stage”. If you attach the above definition to ‘Stella Diana’ you can quickly understand how this band have exhausted their small time musical surroundings and are now moving out of the underground into a much larger musical orbit. Its amazing to see & even better to hear as some of these tracks were previously available via the bands bandcamp page (albeit without the production & mastering skills of Ferndale Productions Mark Joy & Alexander Kretov of Ummagma Studios) and have now been beautifully mixed & mastered by the afore mentioned individuals to the extent that they now weave & arc through layers of amazing sonic brilliance. ‘Stella Diana’ are Dario Torre – Vocals & Guitar, Giacomo Salzano – Bass, Roberto Amato – Guitar, Raffaele Boccheti – Guitar & Davide Fusco – Drums & they hail from the beautiful city of Naples.
The opening track & lead single ‘Shohet’ explodes into the ether with a fuzzy undercurrent intertwined with melodic guitar patterns & hazy shimmering tone. It has, as we’ve come to expect from ‘Stella Diana’, a sublime vocal track that is jammed full of gorgeous melody. Up next is a trip to 1990’s heaven. ‘Caulfield’ drives & ploughs through another impressive musical structure reminiscent at times to early Belgian stalwarts ‘Deus’ crossed with Manchunian wonders ‘The Stone Roses’. Go listen to it!!! Track 3 – ‘Bill Carson’ brings the song writing skills of ‘Stella Diana’ to the fore with melodic chord progressions full of purposefully addictive peaks & troughs. Another solid tune, masterfully mixed & produced. Up Next – ‘Mira’ is utterly addictive without being overly lush. It explodes in the breaks & drives through the verses with its repetitive bass line & almost droning space rock like guitars. A triumph of a track that is most definitely the stand out for me on this whole release. Closing the proceedings is a cover version of a track originally released by 1990’s psychedelic underachievers ‘Kula Shaker’ entitled ‘Govinda’. Not for me really but you can understand why the band would include it on this release as it fits into the over all ascetic of ‘Alhena’ & obviously has deep meaning that only the band can explain.
Overall this is an impressive debut release by a band whom I have a lot of time for. If you are new to the impressive sounds of ‘Stella Diana’ then this is a great starting point on your sonic adventure. For me though, the band have a lot more to give & I eagerly await some brand new material.
RELEASE: Somewhere Away
RELEASE DATE: 19/08/16
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory
This is how a conversation about modern dream/trip-hop inspired electronics music sounds: ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’. Why does it sound like that? Cause once upon a time a group of musicians got together and churned out a massive arsenal of absolute 5/5 albums; think Tricky, Smith and Mighty and Mazzy Star. They layered, they edited, they sampled, they sung, they mixed and they scored hit after hit off and on the mainstream. These musicians pioneered a genre of music that has literally being trampled upon since the late 80’s/early 90’s with copycat, boring, unintelligent rehashes that involve pushing some buttons on a drum machine, putting some interesting but generic female vocals over the top of the mix and being ‘atmospheric’. Those technical wizards who do everything blandly digitally believe wholly that trip-hop/electronic music should be released as it is, without experimentation, without huge inspiration, influence or genre-bending. So it is refreshing and somewhat soothing to listen to Somewhere Away; the new LP by electronic three piece Vibrissae, an album that experiments, practices fantastic song writing and is just enjoyable. And that really, is that. If 'Somewhere Away' spoke anything through the speakers in its conceptual and musical language it is that ultimately if a sound is enjoyable, if it mesmerizes in its quality and is a pleasing experience, then what else is there that needs to be pondered?
READ ON -
Somewhere Away by Vibrissae
'Somewhere Away' begins with a short intro track (Whiskers) that sets the mood subtlety by never directly tackling any of the sounds on the album but simultaneously teasing small sounds on the electronic palette of the genre. ‘Never Again’ begins the album with a jangling distorted guitar and pulsating beats that sound reminiscent of trance music; these sounds are all complimented with the hushing vocals, rocketing bass and shoegaze inspired synth and keyboards. The song has flashes of Eurobeat in its musical structure, but returns to a more synth pop orientated field with the chorus and the catchy, danceable riff that follows it. The song balances itself between dance anthem and alternative sonic soundscape just enough to create an intricate and energetic track; one that the listener may enjoy either way. For those searching for evidence of musical experimentation and genre bending/melding, one should look no further than ‘Incident Report’, which starts as a pulsating industrial track, layered with metallic percussion and the sound of a darkwave tracks opening few bars, only to evolve intelligently into a trip-hop song and delve straight back into darkwave inspired sounds coupled with post-punk style drums on the chorus. The song morphs and jumps neatly from one genre to another, while all the while holding its electronic basics and placing the vocals in a backseat position enough that the music and the vocals seep into each other; a rewarding listening experience.
‘Bulan’ nestles itself in calmly as another beautiful instrumental interlude, showing off all the bands tricks in a much smaller scale whilst 'Not Forever' is an ethereal feast of beautifully constructed guitars and glorious vocals. The metallic ringing from the previous tracks is brought into a stellar techno-inspired instrumental ‘Crooked Stripe’ which is then followed up with ‘Crooked Smile’ a four minute bass heavy dance/darkwave track. 'Vibrissae' show off their skill with the bass guitar, which forms a thick and tasty riff around the central beats and soundscapes. Eventually the track goes full darkwave and reinforces a heavy laden alternative dance beat, all packed together with the slick sounds of keyboard. Although the whole thing stands together intelligently, the song eventually becomes slightly boring, especially in contrast with other tracks on the EP. ‘Need’ is a heavy post-punk style song built around the opening guitar riff and the funk-inspired bass. The vocals fit magnificently in the mix as the song touches on indie rock and the intricate singing style of folk rock all the while returning to the opening post-punk riff; a brilliant and enjoyably diverse listen. The LP concludes with the epic title track, a ten minute adventure through what begins as a slow, alternative rock style riff which builds into an echoing electronic listening experience. The track itself feels like a journey, like sounds are guiding the way through a landscape that Vibrissae has built for the sole purpose of allowing the listener to roam around in, rather than just sitting and listening.
Overall the LP feels too ‘thrown together’. The longer weightier, well written and thorough tracks are surrounded by varying degrees of instrumental track, as if the band thought they didn’t have enough material and chucked together a few filler instrumentals. The LP is also greatly temperamental in its vocals; some tracks feature great amounts of vocals before two instrumentals in a row feature none, and then they return. I am not directly critiquing the songs themselves per say, rather their standing in the whole LP. But as I stated before-hand in the introduction, the pure enjoyment one gets from listening overrides simple things like track placement and the album does itself justice wholly and solely in that area. And that’s what makes 'Somewhere Away' great, it’s not a utopian album, but it’s a reminder that the pure enjoyment factor of a sound should ultimately shine through and inform our opinion in the greater sense. With that in mind, I thought this album was, in most of its parts, enjoyable and refreshing to the genre, a testament to the skill of the band and their sound.
'Somewhere Away' is available to buy/download right now from: vibrissae.bandcamp.com
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.