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Regular writing and podcasting about music

Unfettered and Emotionally Charged

BIG|BRAVE

Au De La

Southern Lord

18th September 2015

BIG BRAVE 300dpiRGB

Those of you who read these ramblings on a regular basis will be aware of my tendency to like bands, artists etc, that sound unique, break the mould, are iconclasts, and deliver a new aural experience, BIG|BRAVE meet those criteria with consummate ease.

Big Brave is a Montreal three-piece who played their first show in July of 2012. Recorded with Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) at Hotel2Tango, their new album “Au De La” adds to a growing discography comprising their debut EP An Understanding Between People (2013) and the debut LP Feral Verdure, which they recorded at Paradise Studios with Jon Boles, and self-released in September 2014.

Big Brave

The band remain frustratingly non-committal about their line-up, identities and background. What is known is that there are two guitars and drums creating an altogether refreshing sound. Special guest Jessica Moss (of the Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) also brings her violin to a few of the album’s five tracks. At least we know what they look like.

Opener “On The By And By And Thereon” sets the scene with brutal shards of guitar and metronomic drums, staccato vocals emerge from this dense battery of sound to create an almost tribal sound. The dark ambience of “Look At How The World Has Made A Change” provides a strong contrast to the first track. Sounds teeter on the edge of distortion, a plaintive vocal echoes middle-eastern musical forms, percussion tumbles and rolls around the sound-scape. The easy option of labelling this music as post-rock does not work here, this is beyond conventional accepted genre pigeon-holing. A howl of feedback takes the track into a slow march of epic proportions, Fractured and blistered guitars match the beat as it builds majestically, a cathartic rage against the forces of darkness, into a memorable climax. Challenging and breathtaking, cinematic in scope, quite remarkable.

The intriguingly titled  “do no harm do no wrong Do No Harm Do No Wrong DO NO HARM DO NO WRONG…” hides a pretty pop song under an unrelenting wall of dense guitars and insistent percussion. Once again the needle heads towards to red as the trio brutalise the listeners ears with an emotionally charged tirade.  Guitar abuse creates a tension against the repetitive drum beat as you are hit with an unforgiving wall of sound. Matters initially calm for the opening waves of the apparently more relaxed “And As The Waters Flow” but quickly brutal stabs of guitar noise break the mood and another aching vocal arises, developing into a massive howl of rage. This is pretty intense stuff folks and not for the faint-hearted. What they are doing musically is pretty basic but they are delivering it in such an unfettered and emotionally rich way as to make it something special indeed.

The longest track on the album “(re)Collection Part II” continues the thematic use of walls of guitars on the edge of feedback with slow and all enveloping drum beats. The vocal is buried deep in the sound scape, matters edge towards a Sunn 0))) aesthetic as dense guitars slowly move around in a frenzied clash of sound, which then transmutes inexorably into Dylan Carlson/Earth territory for the closing section.

Altogether an excellent second album and potentially one of the most exciting releases of the year. Highly recommended.

bigbrave.ca
bigbrave.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/bigbravemusic
southernlord.com

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Fascinating Things : Issue 22

Still busy, more news stuff than album reviews this time mind you :

Those lovely people at The Active Listener are at it again with their 35th compilation of wonderful and psyche oriented musical sounds. There’s the usual eclectic mix including this time around music from recent favourites here Zx+ , Kingdom of the Holy Sun and The Seventh Ring of Saturn. Highly recommended as a place to dip your ear into some of the better things happening at the moment,

Llama Riot say they are proud to announce that their debut single “Live. Die. No Repeat.” is officially out now via all major download stores (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play etc) the world over.  To celebrate this release they have unleashed a new video of which you can check out below. Touch of the Bunnymen I thought, nice,

Corrections House release their brand new full-length, “Know How To Carry A Whip”, this October via Neurot Recordings. The promo says the new one is darker, denser, and more despairing than the predecessor, 2013’s Last City Zero – featured on Sonic Attack 29 and my “Best Of Review of 2013“.  The nine-track, forty-five-minute audio apocalypse was captured by the band’s own Sanford Parker (Minsk) and recently institutionalized minister of propaganda, Seward Fairbury, in Vietnam. The record boasts a guest appearance by Negative Soldier and finds Corrections House – which features the  lineup of Parker, Fairbury, Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod) — at their ” most punishing, painting electronic mosaics of deviance and decadence with brushes made from bristles of the damned”.

Corrections House

The Melvins are back in Europe this September and October, with a series of live dates commencing Sept 13th in the UK in Bristol. The band will be performing as a four-piece, joining forces again with Jared Warren and Coady Willis of Big Business. Having released three full-length LP’s together, Warren and Willis also performed on the band’s “The Bulls & The Bees” EP, which was recently released as a split alongside the 2001 album “Electroretard”. This 13 song album features both releases on one CD, available for the first time as a package. The quartet also collaborated with a series of guest stars on their 2013 covers album “Everybody Loves Sausages”. The Melvins also released “Hold It” In last October, the 12-song album pairs Osborne and Crover with Butthole Surfers’ JD Pinkus and Paul Leary.

UK dates are:

  • Sept 13, 2015 – Bristol – Exchange
  • Sept 14, 2015 – Brighton, – Concorde 2
  • Oct 08, 2015 – Reading – Sub 89
  • Oct 09, 2015 – Manchester – Gorilla
  • Oct 10, 2015 – London – Electric Ballroom

I will be pulling together a dedicated Melvins retrospective podcast sometime in the near future to coincide with the tour.

Melvins
Photo credit: Kevin Willis

With the impending release of the second album from BIG|BRAVE, titled Au De La, rapidly approaching through Southern Lord Recordings, the LP-opener “On The By And By And Thereon” has premiered through The Line Of Best Fit. With five expansive movements which transmit BIG|BRAVE‘s creative sounds with exceptional production values, Au De La was recorded at Hotel2Tango with Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) and mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market (Front Line Assembly, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, C H R I S T). Presenting forty-five minutes of luminous, exploratory, post/avant rock, the album sees vocalist/guitarist Robin Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Bernard Ball and drummer Louis-Alexandre Beauregard delivering a layered, engaging, memorable, visceral voyage. “On The By And By And Thereon,” the lead track to this auditory journey, which is one of several on the album to feature shimmering nets of violin by Jessica Moss (Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra), can be enjoyed for the first time here. Previous material can be sourced via Bandcamp here.  Here’s  a trailer for the album. Once I get a review copy I shall fill you in on more detail about this release.

 ANDREW R. BURNS & THE TROPICANAS debut ep (released May 2015 on Flowers In The Dustbin)  was featured on Aural Delights 123. The label has  announced the release of follow up ep ‘Delaydeez’. The band describe their music as “tropical dreamslop… lazy unpolished, reverb laden tunes.” The ep is out Sunday 18th October, available from itunes and all major digital stores via  Flowers In The Dustbin.  It is also available to pre-order now from their Bandcamp store with an instant download of Pop snuff-it.

Fascinating Things : Issue 21

And still they come, it has been a bumper year for new music, and this week in particular has been replete with fantastic, fascinating things:

Mark Corrin – EP7 0 Earthbound (Bandcamp)

Mark continues his run of EPs with three slices of ambient, glitchy, soundscapes. Lots of things going on here, all of them interesting, continuing the quality of material released to date this year.

Dave Graney – Night of the Wolverine demos​/​Early 90s songwriter demos

Seven songs recorded in 1991 on a 4 track cassette that eventually ended up on the Coral Snakes album, “Night Of The Wolverine”, which was recorded in a weekend late in 1992.  The other songs were recorded around the same time. Dave Graney felt hollowed out after the failure to get the album “I Was The Hunter and I Was The Prey” out. Recorded in London with the original Coral Snakes in 1990. It eventually came out in 1992 on Fire Records in the UK. The idea of gathering another head of steam or bunch of songs as strong as that seemed impossible and Dave thought his future lay in being a songwriter for other artists. The last four of these songs were intended to be sung by a female. “I walked with a Saint” and “I’m gonna live my life” which was eventually covered by Lisa Miller.  “Somewhere in the world” was recorded by Tex Perkins for his debut solo album, “Far be it from me” in 1996. This is a stripped down and laid back Dave exploring other avenues and trying out ideas. Historically important as it demonstrates the eventual way forward as well as a different direction that was never embarked on.  The first seven songs are included in the expanded version of Night of the Wolverine recently released on I-Tunes/Amazon so be careful!

 Northern Uproar – Hey Samurai! (Pledge Music)

Effortless, beautifully recorded, laid back superior pop music, a unique blending of classic indie with Spanish influences. It releases on October 9th.  I must admit I missed out on the first phase of the band so this is all relatively new to me.

Theologian – A Means By Which To Break The Surface Of The Real
(Nothing Under The Sun)

Further extends the immense catalog of  recordings through labels including Crucial Blast, Handmade Birds, Malignant Records, the artist’s own Annihilvs Power Electronix. The latest tortured auditory from the soloist and collaborator, Lee M. Bartow (a.k.a. Theologian Prime), comes in the form of four  sequences, nearly forty-five minutes of new material, the closing track taking up nearly twenty-two minutes on its own. This work was created through Bartow’s collaborative explorations with David Castillo (Primitive Weapons, White Widows Pact) and Daniel Suffering (Whorid), with contributions from Matt Slagle and engineer Kevin D. Reilly, Jr., who has periodically worked with Bartow since the earliest incarnations of Navicon Torture Technologies in the mid-late 1990s. “Tortured screams reach out over the tumbling industrial workings below. Low register whispered meanderings slowly rise to meet those screams. Machines’ rhythmic drones fold in on the voices. Sirens invite and warn. Sink into the synthetic abyss” says the promo. Yep, pretty accurate. Not for the faint-hearted. Out on 28th August.

The Happy Fallen – Lost and Found (Bandcamp)

The Happy Fallen is a solo project by Neale James. He has played in many bands over the years, and played with many well respected Manchester musicians/artists including Craig Gannon (of Aztec Camera/ The Smiths), Ivor Perry (Easterhouse/The Cradle), John Bramwell (The Mouth/ I Am Kloot), Stella Grundy (Intastella), and still working on occasional musical projects with Monica Ward (Happy Mondays/Domino Bones).  This album is a collection of old and new recordings. The older recordings have been remixed, remastered with new vocals and instruments added. I have been featuring much of Neale’s work over the last five years and it is really great to finally get a full album from him. Neale creates of heady brew of garage and psychedelic rock – but he does explain that he thinks all music is psychedelic.Highly recommended.

Fascinating Things : Issue 20

A biblical deluge of new things in this week so only time for  some short and sharp reviews:

Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek (Fortuna Pop!)

The debut album from the new band fronted by Emma Kupa, formerly of BBC 6 Music favourites Standard Fare. Released on 10 July via Fortuna POP!.  A dozen simply marvellous power pop tunes with Emma’s delightful and arresting voice holding the attention for the whole of the album. Lyrically spot on, musically clever, and as it is stripped down to guitar, bass and drums, this is a perfect example of how to write and deliver good tunes.

Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain (Cardinal Fuzz/Sunrise Ocean Bender)

Manchester’s Dead Sea Apes have quickly built a fascinating catalogue that delivers fascinating instrumental jams. From the riveting stomp of previously featured ‘Soy Dios’ and ‘Astral House,’ to the enigmatic ebb and flow laden ‘Lupus,’ and straight through to their stunning collaboration with Black Tempest, ‘The Sun Behind The Sun,’ Equally capable of crushing heavy riffing and  mesmerizing ambient space-psyche as heard on last years critically acclaimed ‘High Evolutionary’,  this is a band that gets better with every release. ‘Spectral Domain,’ is their third full length album. From the Lalo Schiffrin meets Cluster spy theme of ‘Brought To Light’, the driving noise juggernaut of ‘Universal Interrogator’ through to the dubbed out claustrophobia of ‘Sixth Side of the Pentagon’, this is wigged space rock of the highest order. Releases on September 28th  in a visually striking sleeve and insert designed by Luke Insect on a purple and clear vinyl swirl be quick though only 200 are available. Nothing available from the album as yet for embeddinhg so here is something from High Evolutionary to whet your whistle.

Minimi Deutsch – Minimi Deutsch (Cardinal Fuzz)

Emerging from the vibrant Japanese psych explosion that has recently birthed Kikagaku Moyo, Sundays & Cybele,  as part of a new wave of acts that are making waves in the West, Minami Deutsch formed in 2014 and quickly went to work on this their debut album. The album is  a product of their source bands while putting a fine new twist on them,  capturing a  motorik sensibility as the band locks into repetitive locked modular grooves.  Source influences are Can, Neu! and La Duesseldorf (the clue is in the name) with added modernist synth swoops and whirls.  Hypnotic repetition with subtle changes leaves this listener wanting much more. Stunning stuff. 28th September sees the release of a 500 pressing on Weissensee white vinyl.

Henry Threadgill Zooid – In For A Penny, In For A Pound (Pi Recordings)

A double CD of a new suite of compositions from the masterly Mr Threadgill.  As usual there is the unique combination of instrumentation that characterises a Threadgill release – alto, flute and bass flute from the leader, and trombone/tuba,guitar, cello, and percussion. Essentially a “stream of musical phrases” developed over six distinct pieces. Each CD starts with a short introduction and then moves two lengthier section, Bubbling with ideas this is typical Threadgill territory,  his complex avant garde structures creating a unique musical palette with passages of manic pointillism sitting alongside measured chamber jazz, which can then transform into Henry’s particular version of mutant jazz rhythms. Not to for the faint hearted but if you enjoy challenging music you should give this a try. Again there is nothing from the album available as yet so here is a live cut from a couple of years back.

Johann Kloos – Flower Bed (Bandcamp)

A retrospective collection of material from 2003-2011 from the ever busy Dr Kloos. As usual it is jam packed full of musical ideas, replete with humorous idiosyncrasies, and damn fine. Johann moves between various genres across ten excellent tracks, one minute a piece of jazz-funk that Jan Hammer would have been proud of, the next atmospheric post-punk textures,  and then motorik driven beats .  This guy has more ideas in his little finger than any Coldplay wannabee that has been signed by a major. This guy should be supported and promoted he deserves the widest possible audience.

Aaron Diehl – Space Time Continuum (Mack Avenue)

Widely acknowledged as a modern master in the aftermath of his acclaimed 2012 Mack Avenue debut, “The Bespoke Man’s Narrative”, 29-year-old pianist-composer Aaron Diehl ups the ante with his 2015 release “Space, Time, Continuum”. Diehl first came to notice on the self-released late ʼ00s albums “Live At Caramoor”, a solo date on which he navigated the stride piano canon with deep assurance; and “Live At The Players”, on which he delivered a program spanning classical music, bebop and the blues. On “The Bespoke Man’s Narrative”, Diehl presented original music drawing on composers like John Lewis and Duke Ellington for inspiration.  On “Space, Time, Continuum”, an eight- track album, Diehl uses the core trio of bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis. Also featured are the iconic tenor saxophonist-composer Benny Golson and baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley, both 85 years young; the 39-year-old underground tenor saxophone giant Stephen Riley; and the rising star trumpeter Bruce Harris, not yet 30. are also featured. The album moves between trio workouts to blues drenched pieces, or sprightly bop workouts, featuring the horns. Beautifully recorded, there is nothing ground breaking here but the playing is exemplary.

Fascinating Things : Issue 19

Hot on the heels of the new Chelsea Wolfe comes the debut album from Myrkur, the Danish one-woman black metal project. Myrkur (“darkness” in Icelandic) burst onto the scene l in mid 2014 combining the rawness of second wave black metal bands like Ulver and Darkthrone with a natural sonic, ethereal beauty, creating a wholly unique perspective on the genre. Now working with producer Garm of Ulver, this album is a bit of a revelation and moves the genre forward by several very large steps.  Both vicious and lovely.

Publicist UK consists of Brett Bamberger (also of Revocation), Zach Lipez (ex Freshkills), David Obuchowski (Goes Cube, Distant Correspondent), and Dave Witte (Melt Banana, Burnt by the Sun, Municipal Waste). Post-punk pre-goth epic tunes swinging wildly between the more baleful bits of Tuxedomoon and the Eldritch excess of Sisters Of Mercy.

The  title track to the  third LP by Seattle’s Black Breath, “Slaves Beyond Death”, has just been issued as a first single as the album nears release through Southern Lord 25th September. Heavy stuff indeed.

The new Girobabies album is due out on 28th September but you can pre-order now, which I recommend you do.

Bouquet of Dead Crows have released the video of the other A of their forthcoming single on German Shepherd, worth watching for the number of different guitars Neil Bruce goes through in one song! They launch the single on the 28th at the Cornerhouse in Cambridge. I’ve heard the forthcoming album which is a bit of a belter, will share bits of it when I am allowed to.

More quirky and idiosyncratic pieces from the ever busy Dr Johann Kloos are revealed on his new waxing “Flower Bed”.  Johann says it is another retrospective collection, I say it is a another fine collection of fascinating,left field, compositions. Salford’s very own Frank Zappa.

The Mammoth Penguins debut “HIde and Seek” is on its way from Cargo Records. It’s Emma Kupa’s new vehicle and the trio did a great acoustic session on Dave Hammonds Smelly Flowerpot show on Cambridge 105  last week. Pending the arrival of the CD here is a live cut of the excellent “Propped Up” from the album. Echoes of early Go-Betweens here for me!

Fascinating Things : Issue 18

American Wrestlers – American Wrestlers (Fat Possum -2015)

Bruut! – Mad Pack (Music On Vinyl – 2015)

Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida (Chapter Music, Trouble In Mind Records – 2015)

Larry Gus – Years Not Living (DFA -2015)

The Kramford Look – Telepaths (Wonderful Sound – 2013)

The Ramsgate Hovercraft – Arcane Empire Redux 1 ( Bandcamp – 2013)

Cryin’ Queerwolf – Diva (Self Released – 2015)

A lot of new (and not so new) things arrived today so I thought it would be good to consider them all together. It is quite frightening to consider the large amount of new music arriving during 2015. For the most part it has all be of a very high standard. It does make me wonder whether some sort of paradigm shift is emerging which takes us away from corporate Cowell world and back to the grass roots.  Practically speaking I have the time at the moment, due to lack of mobility to sit and listen to this with some degree of attention. In more mobile times, which hopefully will be back soon, the modus operandi has been applied with the 30 second rule – i.e. if it has not grabbed my attention within the requisite time period the finger moves swiftly to the delete button. When I have the time I can usually tend to listen to the first track on the release and to be fair this does allow for more critical appraisal.

There is a constant moan in the DJ/Podcast community about the inaccurate labelling of MP3s/WAVS what have you. The moan is well made with today’s batch of goodies. It may be, to some degree, down to limitations with the tagging software, especially in the genre category, but today there were some obvious misnomers in regard to  the alleged “style” of the music. All will be become clear in due course.

So we start with American Wrestlers, which piqued my interest given my weekly diet of “sports entertainment” from the McMahon family. Googling reveals that this is Gary McClure from Working For A Nuclear Free City and a home Tascam recording which has been picked up by a label, and a touring band has emerged from it. McClure has relocated to the States and to some degree the WFANFC sound has been mildly americanised, although his trademark vocal remains intact. The ID3 tagging on this one is fairly accurate with the use of the ubiquitous “Alternative” being applied. It’s a very pleasant to listen to but I am afraid I can’t get into McClure’s vocal which feels too thin, which detracts from the listening experience. I managed three tracks before pressing the stop button.

Bruut! are from Amsterdam and described themselves as “jazz”. That’s stretching things a bit. Remember those 60s films where they go to the beat club and there are lots of hip young things frugging to a band of loveable mop-tops. It’s more a form of R ‘n’ B than it is jazz. The first track was sufficiently up tempo to grab my attention but after that it got a bit too wacky and mainstream for my liking. I’m sure it would go down well with festival crowds etc but i’m too much of a purist to regard this as “proper” jazz.

Dick Diver is an Australian four-piece indie pop band from Melbourne. The band consists of Rupert Edwards (guitar) and Alistair McKay (guitar), Steph Hughes (drums) and Al Montfort (bass). I have to say that, being a bit of a lover of Antipodean music,  I have oddly missed this combo out of my music experience to date. They’ve been around since 2008 and releasing albums since 2011, this new one is the third to date. There is enough going on here to grab the attention and listen the whole way through but there’s nothing that grabs the listener immediately, no killer hooks or choruses, and nothing ground-breaking.

Larry Gus’ is a play on the Greek word for ‘larynx’, pronounced ‘lareegas’. The chap behind it all is Panagiotis Melidis who uses airy vocals to add texture to the multi-genre experiments on this second album, ‘Years Not Living’. It rumbles along nicely mixing a variety of multi-cultural influences, and there are some interesting jumps in style, within and between songs,  but it’s just a little too safe sounding for my liking.

The Kramford Look – Daniel Wood and Pierre Duplan returned in 2013 with an album under The Kramford Look moniker. It has finally made it’s way to me. Jazzy bass lines, laid back funky drums, lush strings and wind instrumentation, plus analogue synth textures, and John Barry rhodes/clavinet sounds echo classic tv themes and film soundtrack.  The ID3 tag says “Reggae” which I find a little strange. There’s nothing particularly new here, but it’s slick and cool.

The Ramsgate Hovercroft – Mark Bandola (The Lucy Show, Typewriter ) contributes his guitars, keyboards, plus a smattering of bass and percussive rhythms. . Kit Jolly plays  keyboards, as well as saxophone. It floats between Tangerine Dream ambience and In A Silent Way jazz textures. At times I could have been listening to Tim Blake interludes on the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy or something from the Bill Laswell back catalogue.  One of the better selections in today’s pile of goodies.

Cryin’ Queerwolf has been forwarding the developing versions of the tracks on his new release “Diva” over the last few months and it has been a rewarding experience contributing ideas and suggestions back to him.  Fast Lane Steve, the Queerwolf’s manager, says “Loosely ‘Diva’ is the story of a gender neutral “showbizz” star, who used to be big, but they are on the wane. He compares the protagonists fans basking in the warmth of the nova like fade out of their idol. The Diva is quite deluded and believes they are ‘still big’ very much along the lines of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and Kathy Kirby.” The latent humour of this work, combined with the usual  darker, sinister, sub-text to CQs output is in full effect here. There is also a coy playfulness to the delivery and lyrics that edges towards the bawdy, but manages to keep it’s trousers on throughout. CQs sino-centric sound emerges occasionally from the dark disco electronica which dominates the album, and there are occasional glimpses of a post-punk pop moodiness. The Queerwolf’s best work to date. A limited CD run has been despatched so any chances of getting this are slim – but CQ has mentioned the possibility of a live performance sometime in the near future.

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Majestic and Surreal

Alif

Aynama-Rtama

Nawa Recordings

5th September 2015

NAWA003 PROMO CD Wallet-OUTLINE

Now then, i’m not usually one for “world music”, despite an abiding admiration for Ehiopian Jazz-Funk, all matters Fela Kuti, the mesmerising Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the electro jazz of Dhafer Yussef, and some of Mark Corrin’s recent work, especially with Rose Niland, this niche of the musical business does not really grab my listening attention. However, this little beauty arrived today, and immediately struck a chord. My experience is that attempts to insert the tropes of rock and roll into “ethnic” music is generally doomed to failure. The difference here is that the music is, for the most part, acoustic, not too many of the clinical studio sounds of the mainstream have been applied, and where they have, the fit with the more traditional instrumentation is perfect. This is an album that bucks a trend in attempting to westernise certain ethnic forms which gives it a legitimacy and makes for a refreshing listening experience.

Alif is a band of five musicians at the forefront of independent music in the Arab world, and Nawa Recordings is a label dedicated to bringing new alternative music from the Arab world and elsewhere. Formed in 2012 and taking its name from the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, Alif features Khyam Allami (Oud), Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (Vocals/Buzuq), Bashar Farran (Bass), Maurice Louca (Keys/Electronics) and Khaled Yassine (Drums/Percussion).

Their self-produced debut, “Aynama-Rtama” (translated as Wherever It Falls) is a described in the promo as a  “reflection of its time and environment”. Recorded between Beirut in Cairo in 2014, it is a fascinating album with some very interesting pieces. From the lead track Holako (Hulagu) – featuring a poem by late Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) rendered into song for the first time – the band marries gritty electronic percussion with  traditional instrumentation to create a legitimate marriage of rock/blues/post -punk/elctronica styles with ethnic sounds.

The bands’ particular delivery of the tradition of repetition of this form of music aligns itself to modernist elements of post-punk (The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Bjork), the pulses of German music (Can,Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Neu!) and  to some degree the bleaker elements of some recent Americana. The unique thing here is that such alignments are not so obvious that the listener is immediately convinced that this is not some sort of inane construction in a studio by a producer from Leighton Buzzard  sipping a latte in a kaftan, but is instead a valid legitimate and ground-breaking piece of work.

Tamer Abu Ghazaleh has a stunning voice and the combination of the various instrumental elements create a sometimes breathtaking sound – “Al- Khutba Al-Akhiri (The Last Declaration)” for example is a delicious mix of soaring keyboards, insistent rhythm and hypnotic vocal melding a motorik journey with the more traditional elements.

From the melancholic beauty of Dars Min Kama Sutra (Lesson From Kama Sutra) – which features the work of renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) – to the majestic and surreal album-closer Eish Jabkum Hon? (What Brings You Here?), penned by Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, each track bursts with rhythmic drive and fervour. The band’s wide ranging influences and potent energy, result in a soundscape that is at once familiar and unknown.

Mixed by Ali Chant of Toy Box Studios, Bristol, UK (P.J. Harvey, Rokia Traore, Yann Tierson, Gruff Rhys, John Parish) and mastered by John Dent of Loud Mastering, UK (Bob Marley, Nick Drake, Yann Tiersen, Massive Attack, Nick Cave), Aynama-Rtama is a stand out album in a stand out year for new music.

The album  artwork features a painting by Syrian-Lebanese visual artist Semaan Khawam. His colourful and surreal paintings combined with original typography by Egyptian designer Salma Shamel perfectly compliment the complexities latent in Alif’s music and lyrics. All editions  also feature new English translations of the poems and lyrics by Nariman Youssef which, in their own part, add to the enjoyment and discovery of this music.

It will be available on CD, black & limited edition red coloured 12” Vinyl LP and download, including Mastered for iTunes and lossless high-definition 24-bit/96kHz audio files, the first time for a production from the Arab world.

Digital pre-orders are available via iTunes and Bandcamp with the album’s lead track Holako (Hulagu) offered as an immediate download.

iTunes pre-order: http://smarturl.it/NAWA003preorderIT
CD & LP pre-order: http://smarturl.it/NAWA003preorders

Preview the tracks Lullaby and Holako via the links.