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.


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.


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/

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