All posts by HalfEdgeMedia

Regular writing and podcasting about music

Glitch, deep house, shoegaze, EBM and other matters of note

This weeks recommended listens:

Thriftworks – Fader – Bandcamp – 17th November 2014 :  34 tracks washed with rich synths and ‘glitchy’ melodies, featuring a few collaborations with fellow Californian producer Russ Liquid.

Solid District – Moon Anomalies – Emerald and Doreen –  Release Date Unknown : Cancun’s Fernando Mendoza is fascinated by the moon and its effects on mankind, this release reflects that. “Lunar Madness” is a  psychedelic deep house opener that makes clear that somebody’s “thinking of you”. The answer is an “Automatik Reaktion”, a Statickman-esque synth-house roller with cowbells & handclaps . “Thyone” is a slow, heavy, techy-funky space house chugger. “Lunar Madness” gets two remixes. Headpocket provides a beautifully progressive cosmic Balearic Kraut trip with a smoothly rolling bassline, the stand-out track on the release. Airsouth provide a twisted, fragmented and strangely amazing piece of dubstep-infused electronica.

Sounds of Sputnik – New Born – Ear to Ear Records – 21st November 2014 :  Sounds of Sputnik (aka Roman Kalitkin) redefines his listeners’ expectations of Russian music by tastefully mixing post-rock, shoegaze, dream pop, and noise. With a love for The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, Sonic Youth, Happy Mondays, and Slowdive, these bands have exerted their influences over Kalitkin’s own compositions, forged through twenty years spent in various post-punk, alternative and shoegaze bands.

Atomzero – Symbioisis – Analogue Trash – December 2014 - was initially a UK-based music project by Peter Godziszewski.  A 3-track demo was recorded in 2001 with the track “Metaverse” included on Elektrauma Vol.6 compilation released in 2002. Relocated to Canada the project continued with remix work for other bands and further compilation contributions, culminating in Gord Clement joining forces with Peter in 2004 and a new phase of Atomzero was born. Drawing the best elements from influences such as Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb among others, the new songwriting partnership brought strong vocals, thoughtfully-crafted lyrics and a more melody-driven brand of electronic music, fusing classic electronic influences of early electro-pop, industrial and EBM into a polished and modern mix. After self-releasing Symbiosis in May of 2014 to positive reviews from the alternative music press and fans alike, Atomzero signed a European label deal in September 2014 with Manchester-based independent label AnalogueTrash Records to release a special edition of their debut album in December.  The European edition of Symbiosis contains sixteen tracks including ten tracks from the original edition of the album, two exclusive original songs and an array of remixes from Assemblage 23, SkinjoB and label-mates Advance and Neonsol.

….and watch out for the following in forthcoming weeks, months and indeed new year….

  • alansmithee feat. Marklar – Checking Out/Plain Sailing – Flowers In The Dustbin
  • Six Organs of Admittance – Hexadic – Drag City – 16th February 2015 (herein a preview thereof)
  • Klozapin – Klozapin – Conquest of Noise – 5th January 2015 (check them out here)
  • Moff Skellington – Marine Sugars (locally glimpsed) – German Shepherd Records – 5th December 2014
  • KP2 – A Cabinet of Curiosities – German Shepherd – 5th December 2014
  • West Coast Sick Line – Wasp In The Car – German Shepherd – 28th November 2014

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Demo’s, Art Rock, Rabbit Holes, Noblemen and Wasps

Various pieces of news for your consideration:

Fugazi’s First Demo release is now streaming in its entirety ahead of the official release date on 18th November via Dischord Records.

Manchester’s beautiful Central library was reopened earlier this year following a four year period of renovation and to celebrate, The Slow Readers Club played a gig in there, the first band to do so following the building’s refurbishment. The event was recorded and an album ‘Live At Central Library’ will be available as a digital download on December 1st. The Slow Readers Club will be playing XFM’s First Friday at Manchester’s Band on the Wall on December 5th.

Tickets are available here: http://bandonthewall.org/events/4583/

Siskiyou returns with Nervous, a majestic album of carefully constructed art rock built around songwriter and lead singer Colin Huebert’s stacked acoustic guitars and intimate, whispery vocals. Siskiyou’s sound has been previously dubbed a sort of ‘Northern Gothic’, conjuring cold winds and the life-saving warmth of temporary shelters and tiny hearth fires. With Nervous, the band continues to push beyond the crisp lo-fi intimacy of its early work, and has forged its most confident and finely-crafted recording to date, moving fully into auteur and chamber-pop territory with a song cycle that brings to mind the meticulousness of mood and sonics found in recent work by PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Tindersticks. Inflected by an anxious, sussurant restraint, Huebert’s voice is supported by the falsetto backing vocal counterpoint and economical instrumentation of bandmates Erik Arnesen, Peter Carruthers and Shaunn Watt. Fans of the understated and underrated 1990s group Swell may also hear a welcome evocation of that group’s acoustic guitar-driven simplicity.

Irreal, the fifth long player from Chicago’s Disappears, is another trip down the rabbit hole. The album plays out as a dream sequence – hazed dub landscapes give way to the groupʼs most experimental and open music yet. If their last album Era confirmed the fact that Disappears are on their own trip, then Irreal is where it kicks in.  Eternalism, roboethics, identity – the album is a Ballardian mix of imperfect melodies, half thoughts and good ol’ dystopian modernity. It is a masterclass in texture, pace and control. Produced by John Congleton at famed Chicago recording institution Electrical Audio, Irreal sits in the negative space where art rock and post punk collapse onto each other. Irreal is the sound of Disappears reporting back from The Void.

Sir Richard Bishop returns with a brand new album, entitled Tangier Sessions, which Drag City are releasing on 16th February 2015. Tangier Sessions tells the oft-told tale: while traveling abroad, nobleman meets guitar. Guitar is too expensive for nobleman and, outraged, he departs. Nobleman quietly returns several days later for guitar but still can’t bring himself to pay the price. Yet nobleman can’t get guitar out of mind (he’s never heard anything like it) – so nobleman buys guitar, then travels the world with it, enchanted, and makes an album while in Tangier.

(photo credit Uwe Faltermeier)
(photo credit Uwe Faltermeier)

28th November sees the latest release by the ubiquitous German Shepherd Records and their fourth offering by West Coast Sick Line. Comprising six tracks the EP is called Wasp In The Car and features the outstanding track from the Road to Billinge Hill album released earlier in the year. The remaining five tracks include two songs that did not make it onto the Billinge album , the beautiful “Johanna” and the up tempo “Bank Quay Moon”,  together with fan favourite, and as yet unreleased “Girls from Del Monte” and a recent Moonan experimental piece “O Jenasse”. The set is completed with a Space Museum  remix of “Johanna” which adds multiple layers of strings and synths.

Wasp Cover Idea One

Clasp Breakers…..

Bringing a decade-and-a-half of silence to an end, Montreal-based quartet, LAE,  release their official debut full-length release Break The Clasp, on November 25th via The Compound/Battleground.

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Performing under their original name, LAE-TSEU, the band evolved out of the mid-‘90s post-rock/post-hardcore scene, seeking to distance themselves from the established conventions of rock music as well as the trappings of the various alternative subgenres. Not without irony, trace elements of many of those persist in their sound, itself a peculiarly familiar presence, as varied as it is satisfying. Nods to the likes of Three Mile Pilot, Swans, Sonic Youth, Unwound and Slint will surely not go unnoticed, but LAE’s total is far greater than the sum of its influences. Scathing, desperate and heartbreaking vocal sentiments set against richly layered backdrops, amplified and acoustic, melodic and deafening.

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After earning a solid regional fanbase and foundation, the band split in 2001, without having released an official album. Their regional peer acts would go on to receive massive attention just after LAE’s premature and unexpected demise, and it would seem that the band had missed the boat completely as these other home-town acts entered the international spotlight.  Perhaps this is their time.

In mid-2013, LAE’s current lineup — bassist, Ronald Jean-Gilles, drummer Serge Nakauchi Pelletier, and guitarists Stephane Desgroseilliers and Marc Lucas Ablasou — set out to record their debut LP, Break The Clasp, bringing their music from two decades ago to new life, completely re-envisioned with incredible musicianship and finesse. The band employed the talents of producer Steve Austin of Today Is The Day, flying him along with some major pieces of recording equipment from his Austin Enterprises out to Montreal for the recording sessions. Once the recording sessions were underway Austin instantly became intertwined in the recording process full-on, in the end supplying lead vocals to the entire LP.

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What you get is an exciting array of musical experimentation seamlessly coalescing into a more than fifty-minute-long, hypnotically psychedelic yet anguished style of post-rock, LAE’s mammoth sound is incredibly beautiful yet inescapably depressing. It is also characterised by variety, the shifts in style, tone and atmosphere are impressive.

This is a captivating album echoing those progenitors of post-rock Slint, but also reflecting other bands from Montreal like God Speed and the other Constellation acts.  Highly recommended.

Break The Clasp will finally see its long-awaited exposure to the world  through a collaborative release between DIY labels The Compound and Battleground Records, on all digital formats as well as deluxe digitpak CD and deluxe 2xLP formats. The otherworldly cover art was crafted by LAE’s longtime colleague Sonny Kay.

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http://laetseu.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/LAE-Band/614579391922975
http://www.thecompoundrecs.com
http://www.facebook.com/thecompoundrecs
https://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords

Dromedary Dabblings

This video is from the new release from Desert Ships. Directed by Julian Hand, an experimental filmmaker and light show artist who’s recently worked with TOY and The Oscillation, Skyliner is based on a true story of a fatal plane crash. It’s sung from the perspective of one of the passengers, and how they quickly they come to terms with what is about to transpire, embracing their fate. The track is heavily cinematic; a haunting guitar loop and hypnotic groove allow the dream-like melodies to weave in and among each other, all the while propelling the listener along unwittingly to a massive crescendo and ending.

Mikey (vocals/guitar), Daniel (bass/vocals), and Claude (drums/vocals) formed the band in 2012, releasing their debut album ‘Doll Skin Flag’ in the same year. The album, produced by Mark Gardener (formerly of seminal shoegaze band Ride), was met with huge critical acclaim. Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records described the band as having “some great fucking songs” (no need for such foul language Alan it’s not clever) and Mark Gardener described his time working with Desert Ships as “a total pleasure, a total trip.”

The London based so called “trip-tonic” three-piece describe their sound as heavily cinematic. lead vocalist Mikey explains how their songwriting process works: “The majority of the songs start from loops or scratch demos I make which are then played to Daniel and Claude. We go through an old school process of playing them over and over until the groove and beats sit just right. Afterwards we work diligently tweaking top lines and hooks. The lyrics can either come fully formed with the demo or I finish them off as we arrange the song. Some tracks will never work live but are perfect for an album. I don’t mean filler. Some are better listened to driving in the middle of the night, others should be heard live and loud in a club with your friends. We have a huge amount of songs that are to be recorded.”

Comparisons have been drawn with the likes of Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, and in production and soundscape terms John Barry. Mikey describes the band’s music as “a reverb drenched apocalyptic experience”. My view is that they sound like a unique combination of GongNeu!, Acid Mothers Temple, and Amplifier. There’s a psych edge to the music also which mixes things up a bit.

The Skyliner EP was also produced by  Mark Gardener. Written last year, it covers themes of mortality and escape through tales of heart surgery, plane crashes, bombings, and the motorway doldrums. Some of the lyrics were finished off on a night train from Hanoi to Saigon, before Mikey flew back to London to go straight to the studio and record. “I was listening to Steve Reich’s ‘Music For 18 Musicians’ a lot during this period. I still do now. I think it’s one of the most incredible pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Somebody recently called us a dream wave trio and I thought that was pretty apt”

It’s a fine EP with three other tracks in addition to the above. I was particularly fond of the motorik instrumental “Ausgang” which rattles along at a Dinger-esque pace with scabrous guitar scribblings and surging layers of sound.  “Shell  Shock” moves between Gong like sonic ripples and Wayne Coyne pop musings. “Heart Beats” is an odd closer, which doesn’t seem to fit with the other material on the EP and suffers in comparison. Overall though it’s a good collection of tunes and is recommended.

Social Links

http://www.desertships.com

https://www.facebook.com/desertships

https://twitter.com/desertships

http://instagram.com/desertships

http://desertships.bandcamp.com/

Textured depths of sound

A few recent and not so recent things to wrap your ears around……..

Wet Drag are a post punk trio from Oakland, California comprising Max Nordile – Bass/Vox , Marissa Magic – Guitar/Vox and Lillian Maring – Drums/Vox.  They released this little beauty in February and it’s rather lovely.

Loscil is back with a new release on Kranky on 17th November. Sea Island is a collection of new material composed and recorded over the past two years. While many of these compositions were performed live extensively prior to recording, others were constructed in the studio and are being heard for the first time on the new album. Musically, the album consists a range of compositional approaches. Murky, densely textured depths of sound are explored with subtle pulses and pings woven within, contrasted with composed or improvised moments of acoustic instrumentation making a move into the foreground. Certain tracks , such as album opener Ahull, make rhythm their focus by using subtle poly-rhythms and periods of repetition with evolving variation to create a hypnotic effect. Though electronic at its core, instruments such as vibraphone and piano make an appearance, and layers of live playing with improvisation emerge within the looped and layered beds of manipulated sound recordings. A varied cast of players appear in the Loscil “ensemble”, some familiar collaborators from the past such as Jason Zumpano on rhodes and Josh Lindstrom on vibraphone, and others new to the mix such as Fieldhead‘s Elaine Reynolds who provides violin on Catalina 1943, and Ashley Pitre contributing vocals on the stand out track Bleeding Ink. Seattle pianist Kelly Wyse, who collaborated with Loscil on his 2013 edition of piano-centric reworks Intervalo, performs on the tracks Sea Island, Murders and En Masse. At times the music sounds like Tortoise, which is no bad thing. Generally reflective and ambient the album is the best of Scott Morgan’s releases under this brand to date. There are some genuine aural surprises here, and a degree of inventiveness that moves this particular genre of music forward considerably.

31st October saw the release, again on Kranky, of Liz Harris’s latest Grouper album. Entitled Ruins she says of the album “…..it was made in Aljezur, Portugal in 2011 on a residency set up by Galeria Ze´ dos Bois. I recorded everything there except the last song, which I did at mother’s house in 2004. I’m still surprised by what I wound up with. It was the first time I’d sat still for a few years; processed a lot of political anger and emotional garbage. Recorded pretty simply, with a portable 4-track ,Sony stereo mic and an upright piano. When I wasn’t recording songs I was hiking several miles to the beach. The path wound through the ruins of several old estates and a small village. The album is a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love. I left the songs the way they came (microwave beep from when power went out after a storm); I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.”  This a stunning album. Found sounds, field recordings weave in between sparse and delicate songs with Harris’ vocal barely audible over the piano. PJ Harvey‘s White Chalk immediately comes to mind when listening to this beautiful collection of songs.

Turning to matters a little louder Phoenix, Arizona sludge doom outfit Gale have self-released their debut, Vol. 1. Recorded in nearly one take by Jalipaz Nelson at Audioconfusion in Mesa, Arizona, while not a concept record, the album and its lyrical basis primarily deals with existentialism and the darkness that can be revealed from self-analysis. With a brutal tone likely  to grab the ears of fans of other Arizona bands Godhunter, Sorxe, Methra and the like, the ultra-amplified output of the  group reflects, but does not copy,  the works of Yob, Melvins, Crowbar, Neurosis and Sleep.  Each member of the four-piece line-up contributes a different style of vocals to the mix,  in addition to their respective instruments. A physical version of Vol. 1 will be released in the future and the band has already begun the planning stages on additional material which will see release through several new works throughout 2015.

Six Organs of Admittance‘s Ben Chasny has devised his very own system of musical composition, The Hexadic System, which is the basis for an upcoming new album, entitled Hexadic and to be released on Drag City in February 2015. Ben Chasny’s restless intellect has regularly guided the progress of his creation. A lyrical mastery of acoustic finger-picking would be enough to build a body of work for most musicians; this is just the stepping-off point for Ben. From the earliest days of private-press psych home recordings, Six Organs of Admittance has sought out alternative spaces in which to make music and challenge audiences to keep up with his rapid advances into new areas. Over the last two years Ben has been assembling a comprehensive system of musical composition. Designed to free sound and language from rational order and replace calculation with indeterminacy, The Hexadic System is a catalyst to extinguish patterns and generate new means of chord progressions and choices. Though it was not his intention upon creating this unique system, the structures it was generating were so compelling, they soon became the bones of the next Six Organs record. This is the longest time between Six Organs records since Ben started making them in 1998.

Michigan punk/metal misfits, Child Bite, release their Strange Waste EP via Housecore Records on 25th November.  Their self-proclaimed “music for losers,” nine-track was recorded at Russian Recording in Indianapolis, Indiana and produced by the band.  They extract elements  from various extreme ends of metal, noise, and hardcore without falling squarely into any of those genres. Refusing to slide comfortably into your neatly ordered collection, the music can lurch from synth-driven punk to yelping, sax-soaked art-rock to thundering, ugly sludge. It’s breathless stuff, squeezing every mode and expression out of the music and exhausting it before moving on to the next track. This is truly heavy rock music, saved from any namby-pamby genre qualifiers.  Despite clocking in at a mere nineteen minutes, Strange Waste contains so many twisted riffs, biting, guitar solos, clanking, chugging bass lines, splattering drum blasts and yowling vocals, that repeated listening is necessary. Fans of The Jesus Lizard, Black Flag, Faith No More, and Dead Kennedy’s will appreciate what is going on here. It made me smile any way.

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Out on Small Stone records on October 7th was a new one from Long-running Ohio riff rock peddlers, Lo-Pan,  called Colossus. Named after the Colossus of Rhodes — a ninety-six-foot statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun, Helios, constructed in 280 BC to mark a failed siege and the indomitable nature of the Greek city of Rhodes itself — their fourth album  mixes a heavy rock background with the more accessible vocals associated with indie bands like Amplifier together with a blues feel. In the three years since of the release of third long-player, Salvador, the Columbus four-piece have logged countless miles, crossing the USA multiple times over on headlining tours and supporting the likes of Torche, High on Fire, KENmode, Whores, Fu Manchu and Weedeater.  For the first time in their near decade-long existence, they knew exactly what they wanted when they hit the studio. They’d road-tested songs like “Eastern Seas” and the title track for over a year, and partnering with producer/engineer Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Rosetta, East Of The Wall et al) at his Translator Audio studio in Brooklyn they have recorded a great set of songs with an accessible feel which may allow them to cross-over to a wider audience. They cite their influences as Kyuss, Tool, Dozer, Torche, Disengage, Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, and Helmet – which I think gives you a sense of what they sound like.

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In the lead up to completing fresh material for release in 2015, Southampton (UK) based alternative rock outfit Circle Of Reason are generously issuing a free download single each month from their catalogue of EP releases. They have selected their track ‘Silver Scene’ as November’s offering. Taken from their debut EP A Favour For A Stranger, the track was instrumental in bringing the British rock quartet to the attention of rock fans nationwide. Achieving early support from Kerrang! TV and Scuzz TV etc, ‘Silver Scene’ delivers guitar driven melodic alt – rock reminiscent of their peers – The Smashing Pumpkins, QOTSA, Muse and Biffy Clyro. Despite the present focus on writing & recording a new EP, they return to the live stage this November. Adding to an already impressive list of support slots with established artists (Marmozets, InMe, Neck Deep, Feed The Rhino etc) C.O.R shall be opening for Irish alternative/grunge legends ‘Kerbdog’ on 19th November at Talking Heads in Southampton (UK). You can get the free download at www.soundcloud.com/circleofreason/silver-scene

 

You will be able to hear most if not all of this music on upcoming podcasts at : http://bobosbornespodcasts.wordpress.com/

Southern Electrikk Change

It’s a good job I keep a fairly comprehensive record of the music that comes in or else I would be utterly confused.

In today is a new one from The New Southern Electrikk who are being touted around as the next big thing by various luminaries. The piece on offer is a cover of The Gun Clubs‘ “Mother of Earth”, originally from the 1982 Miami release. Whilst the original was straightforward “tex-mex” country rock with a touch of blues, the new reading comes over all motorik Wooden Shjips with post-punk Hanley bass and a touch of Suicide keyboard nestling under the mix. Nice enough, but I think I need to listen to the bands own stuff to derive a reasonable opinion on their abilities. Monica Ward’s voice has always been well worth a listen though, and, she handles the daunting task of delivering Jeffrey Lee’s words with ease.

Why the confusion expressed in the opening comments you ask? Well up until recently there was a band called Mary Joanna and the Southern Electrikk but they split up  a few weeks back. Stephen Evans (ZX+, The Planets, Twisted Wheel) and Mary Joanna Coogan are continuing as I understand it in a different setting.  The drummer in said split band was  of course Spencer Birtwistle which allows me an opportunity to slip a Fall connection somewhat surreptitiously into the discussion.

The “new” version of Southern Electrikk features, alongside Monica,  the core of the old band – Rikki Turner on keys, Steven Tatji on bass,  Zack Davies  on guitar and a new drummer Jim Correy. Turner and Tatji were in the Paris Angels.

The new band enter the studio to record a double A side single at the end of the month, with work beginning on a debut album in the new year. Apparently Evan Dando likes them, but don’t let put you off.

I’ll be featuring the new version against The Gun Club original on next weeks Aural Delights Podcast so you can draw your own conclusions…..

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Intergalactic Departure Lounge Music

Since forming in 2006, Oakland, California’s  Lumerians have gained notoriety for their intense performances, stunning live visuals and thematic otherworldly releases. Their latest release, which was recorded during exploratory sessions in their own studio, is called Transmissions from Telos Vol III and is released by Cardinal Fuzz on November 17th.

Through this release Lumerians acknowledge the role sound and rhythm have always played in transcendent and ecstatic rituals the world over, from the repetitive drums of tribal animists to the penetrating electronic pulses of neon lit dance clubs. They take those principles and translate them into moody, hypnotic, pieces which move between Sun Ra leaning jazz, via Krautrock, into areas of psychedelia. The four pieces on the album, clocking in at just over 36 minutes,  demonstrate a band at the top of their game. Trademark surging keyboard sounds create a bed, as percussion, bass and guitar move in an entrancing  circular fashion, creating a hybrid of west coast jamming, serial repetition, lightly tinged with dub sensibilities.

There will be a limited vinyl release and hand made CD versions and they are available for pre-order here.

For lovers of space rock, jazz-rock, psych and free form jamming – highly recommended.

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