Fascinating Things : Issue 26

I suggest you make a brew and get comfy for this one, it has been an extremely busy week. For those out there that say that there is  no good new music out there, I beg to differ. A seriously eclectic selection awaits your visual and aural pleasure:

Father Murphy, the Italian duo comprised by Rev. Murphy and Chiara Lee who are troubling the underground since the early Noughties with a series of dark, disturbing recordings, this time team up with producer Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (Larsen) for a 10” EP aptly titled Lamentations to be released by the avant-garde label Backwards on 20th November 2015. The release completes Father Murphy’s 2015 Trilogy of The Cross, which started with Calvary (a 10 minute long introductory piece released by Blue Tapes in January) and was followed by Croce (Father Murphy’s fifth album and first release for the San Francisco based label The Flenser, released back in March).

Recorded in Turin under the supervision of sound engineer Paul Beauchamp, Lamentations finds Father Murphy at a crossroad of sorts: instigated with the guidance of Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo, the core duo of Chiara and the Reverend opted for a slight alteration of their signature squalor-sound, whilst still remaining cheerfully focused on their thematic obsessions (namely: death, God, pain, forgiveness). Inspired by a tongue-in-cheek reading of the Book of Jeremiah, as well as the traditions that mark the orthodox Holy Week Lamentations, the band have produced two long compositions that Iam advised feel like classic Father Murphy material, yet are substantially enriched in respect to their usually spare sonic palette.

I will share this with you on the podcast when a review copy arrives.

Photo credit: Sara Xiayu
Photo credit: Sara Xiayu

Ritual Productions have announced the signing of The Poisoned Glass, a duo comprised of two members of the legendary doom band Burning Witch; vocalist Edgy59 and bassist G.Stuart Dahlquist.

After the demise of Burning Witch in 1998 and going their separate ways, the two kept in touch, occasionally making overtures towards working together and knowing that they would when it felt natural. The Poisoned Glass started with the song ‘Silent Vigil’, a twelve-tone progression Dahlquist had originally intended as a tonal bass solo. After experimenting, he felt that the resulting sound was heavier, more despondent and unforgiving than any of his existing projects and sent the rough mix to Edgy, who understood immediately that this music represented perfectly both voices as a unit. It came naturally, as though it was meant to be, and with that, the duo formed, and set out to record as The Poisoned Glass.

The instrumentation is exclusively centred around bass guitar, organ, and voice – nothing more. In spite of seemingly limiting instrumentation The Poisoned Glass is far from minimalist; the atmosphere is bleak but so dense it is virtually without air. Dahlquist’s unison bass and organ is massive, building, evolving and expanding, punctuated by Edgy’s unbridled tenor and the irregular jarring of one or two note dissonant harmonies.

The Poisoned Glass will release their self titled LP on Ritual Productions in spring of 2016. More details of that to follow in the coming months.

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Philadelphia psychedelic rock trio, Wizard Eye, release a self-titled new full-length on October 10th via Black Monk Records. Recorded in three days at Haddon Heights, New Jersey’s Gradwell House Studios with  Steve Poponi producing and mastering by Dave Downham, the  follow-up to the band’s 2010 Orbital Rites debut includes their signature brand of mind-bending riffs , bottom-heavy grooves, churning bass, otherworldly effects and raw vocals.  Their roots are planted firmly into the lysergic soil of ‘70s acts like Hawkwind, Budgie, Blue Cheer, Captain Beyond, Motörhead and Black Sabbath, Wizard Eye shows the band operating at the pinnacle of its creative and musical abilities.

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Paris’ based duo AaRON return with ‘Blouson Noir’, the first track to be lifted from their upcoming, self produced, third album ‘We Cut The Night’.  The duo’s debut ‘Artificials Animals Riding on Neverland’ came out in 2007, it sold over 400, 000 copies and is considered a classic by many. Years to follow saw the accolade of another chart topping album (Birds in the Storm) and the pair being awarded with a European Border Breaker Award followed by a sold out tour. ‘Blouson Noir’ tells a tale of a late, sleepless and very much lovelorn night in New York City; walking alone in the cutting darkness through the concrete, the buildings, the sirens and the overpowering nature of it all with nothing but the sounds of Grace Jones “Strange I’ve Seen That Face Before” playing. “

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The Insight deliver a stong post-punk sound with a Gallic tinge.  They release album White Noise on 25th September. Manc/Scouse influences are strong throughout, lots of flanged guitars and reverby drums with dramatic vocals. You can pre-order on Bandcamp.

Written whilst under the influence, the stomping new single “Kicking the Habit” out 12th October, finds Greg Hooper and Gordo Francis of The Lost Art in a playful, raucous mood.  The single comes from pair’s Special Edition version of their self-titled debut album set for release 2nd November. Included with the albumrelease are special remixed songs along with a fully notated score allowing fans to enjoy the duo’s music in a new and unique way. Mixing the old with the new, the varying cocktail of quirky remixes add extra flavour to this inspired thirst quencher of an album. It’s very good in a teetering on the edge of collapse way, sdaly however I have nothing to embed for you as the promo people seem to have neglected to send a link other than for the last single which seems a trifle odd. Anyhow it will be on next weeks Aural Delights so you can hear it then.

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To celebrate her signing to First Word Records and announce her forthcoming mini-album ‘Of The New World’ Sarah Williams White has released ‘Winter Sun’ as a free download.

Here’s a little background to the track from Sarah herself:

I wrote this track to gratify all these images from films I had in my mind like Empire of The Sun, Fist of The North Star… imagery of a post apocalyptic/war-torn world, but nature with it’s strength and beauty just standing it’s ground! The Sun, or that something at the end of the tunnel that gives hope through darker times..

All my new music seems to have this underlying theme of time and repair, and the awesomeness of earth. Its a bit of a theme throughout my upcoming record Of The New World.

‘Winter Sun’ started out as a li’l instrumental idea with my Hohner Pianet over a beat of Timmy’s (Timmy Rickard is the drummer and engineer I work with) – I’d been listening to a lot of Roy Ayers! Then it kinda filled itself out over time into a more spacey harmonic piece with the poem and vocals, new b-boy drum grooves from timmy and my juno 106 playing the glaring Sun.’
It was released on 17 September 2015 and is an inventive jazzy tune which improves on repeat listening.

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Cheeky London chappies The Black Sparrows release a new single , they describe themselves as punk n roll, dapper flat caps and waistcoats would normally be a turn-off but this lot manage to grab my attention wth a sort of Libertines/Heartbreakers looseness.

Gabrielle Papillon is a Canadian singer-songwriter with a fantastic voice.  Her upcoming album The Tempest Of Old captures the pick-up-and-play honesty in her song writing with each track being beautifully produced alongside a yielding sense of time and place. The album , will be available for sale and download Friday 25th September 2015. Get You Well is the first single from the album.  This is her fifth album so I think a check on the back catalogue will be worthwhile given the quality of the new one.

The Melvins, who are currently in the midst of a European tour, flash back to their 2012 attempt at a world record setting tour of the United States (plus DC) with the Noember. 13th DVD release of Across The USA in 51 Days: The Movie! The tour launched on September .5th, 2012 from Anchorage, Alaska and wrapped up fifty-one days later, October. 25th, on the sunny shores of Honolulu, Hawaii. “We figured it was time for us to do something REALLY crazy,” Buzz Osborne said at the time of the band’s transcontinental trek. The band documented the outing via Spin (http://www.spin.com/tag/melvins-tour-diary/) and also through a collection of never-before-seen video footage. I’m putting together an Aural Delights special podcast on the Melvins to coincide with their Manchester appearance (October 9th at Gorilla)

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To be brutally honest I’m not sure Ben Chasney’s head is at these days.  Drag City release Six Organs Of Admittance‘s latest Hexadic II on November 20th.   The album appears to be an acoustic variation on the tunes on the preceding album, athough it’s best described as a transformational process rather than a faithful reinterpretation. It  took me a few listens but I began to get into this enjoy what he is up to. He ploughs his own furrow and does it well.

…and finally, I am most overjoyed to find that the ever excellent Monster Island have a seven song EP out hopefully later this year. They are down in that there London on 10th October for a gig at The Windmill Brixton for International John Peel day. Here’s a little reminder of how wonderful they are.

 

 

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Fascinating Things : Issue 04

This time around things of a metal flavour dominate the blog.

Following an extended slumber, Mammoth Lake, California-based black/death merchants, Valdur, emerge from their crypts with the infernal fruits of latest offering, lovingly titled  Pathetic Scum.

The follow-up to 2013’s  At War With full-length, Pathetic Scum was tracked entirely at the band’s Bloody Mountain Bunker, mixed by drummer Matthew, mastered by Dan at Morbid Mastering and offers up seven intense pieces of metal.   Featuring the addition of new guitarist, Vuke, the record delivers an onslaught of warring riffs, wrath-infused vocal offensives and percussive barrages. Indeed, Pathetic Scum maintains the bands place as one of America’s best kept extreme metal secrets.

The band say, “Guitarist/vocalist Samuel is still with us so to speak, but he is so busy with personal/family matters at the moment. Vuke, new guitarist, is not a replacement, but a full time member of Valdur. And for live dates this spring, Roskva will be on vocals again. And we have William on bass and Matthew on drums. We all appreciate anyone who takes the time in this world to have a listen to our music. It is built and moulded by our own hands to the form and shape that we like. With these new songs, we give you something different yet again along the obscure Valdur timeline…”

Featuring past and current members of Weverin, Endless Blizzard and Plutocracy, Valdur was formed at the turn of the century in a small mountain town located in the pulsating heart of the Sierra Mountains where the Death Valley desert lands meet the ascending Mt. Whitney and where the collective dwells without interference of fashionable scenes or rulebooks.

Pathetic Scum will be officially unveiled digitally and in digipak format via the band’s own Bloody Mountain Records on June 30th, 2015.

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Unique Leader Records have confirmed July 24th as the date French death metal band, Kronos, will release their Arisen New Era album upon the waiting world. Recorded, mixed and mastered by David Potvin at Dome Studios (Lyzanxia, Arcania, Under The Abyss etc.) in Angers, France, the band’s latest slab of audio menace features nine tracks adorned with the distinctive cover art of Pierre Alain (Withering Soul, Silentlie, Cyrax etc.).

Kronos formed over fifteen years ago and quickly established a name for themselves based solely on their musical unity of harmony and violence. Featuring a continuous textual reference to the gods of ancient civilizations, Kronos punctures ears with a heightened level of dynamics accomplished by only by a select number of bands. It all began in a small town in the north eastern province of Alsace-Lorraine. Following various line-up shifts and musical experimentation, the band recorded their first demo in 2000. One year later, they released their Titan’s Awakening debut. Produced entirely by the band, the album lead to a union with French imprint Warpath Records. By the end of 2001, Titan’s Awakening was re-released, this time with a brand new cover designed by Deather (Gurkkhas, Vital Remains, Angel Corpse) as well as a visually disquieting booklet.

Kronos later joined forces with Spanish label Xtreem Music run by Avulsed’s Dave Rotten, for the unleashing of their next two full-lengths. Second offering, Colossal Titan Strife was released in 2004 to the applause of underground critics in the proverbial know.

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Chicago-based blackened death grind unit, Immortal Bird, have confirmed the official details of their anticipated Empress/Abscess LP.

Set for release on July 14th, the follow-up to 2013’s Akrasia EP was captured by Pete Grossmann (Weekend Nachos, Harm’s Way, Dead In The Dirt) at Bricktop Recording in Chicago, Illinois earlier this year and mixed and mastered by Colin Marston (Gorguts, Krallice, Nader Sadek, Atheist, Origin etc.) at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in Queens, New York. Empress/Abscess includes a guest appearance by John Hoffman of Weekend Nachos and finds former drummer/vocalist, Amitay, swapping in her drum stool for a full-time position at the mic with longtime live drummer, Garry Naples (Novembers Doom) taking her place at the kit.

Elaborates Amitay, “I’ve stepped away from drumming duties and enlisted our live drummer, Garry Naples (Novembers Doom). Essentially, I had to set my ego aside and determine what was going to be the best for this music. [Guitarist] Evan [Berry] and I wrote some incredibly challenging material for Empress/Abscess, and Garry had been playing it live for months, whereas I’d been focusing a lot of my drumming energy on the newest Thrawsunblat album. My chops are in a very different place than they were when we recorded Akrasia and it would take me a week in the studio to do what Garry can accomplish in two days. Having him behind the kit saved us time, the finished product is stronger, and I was able to delve into the vocal performances and lyrics with my undivided attention. Will I play drums on future Immortal Bird albums? It’s entirely likely, but for Empress/Abscess, I passed the sticks over to the best person for the job.”

The band was formed by Rae Amitay and brought to fruition by cowriter and guitarist Evan Berry and bassist John Picillo. Their debut EP, Akrasia, mixed by Kurt Ballou and mastered by Brad Boatright, was released in December of 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. Decibel Magazine called the offering, “dark and twisting,” while The Chicago Reader commended the band’s “…sick and greasy black metal that does an admirable job inventing the sound of a mind tearing itself apart.” Elsewhere the sentiment echoed with Ghost Cult crowning Akrasia, “Distinctly disturbing and beautifully harsh,” This Is Not A Scene heralding, “…nineteen minutes of metal greatness,” and Last Rites noting, “these songs don’t really make their point; they insist on it.”

Following several tours that took the band across the United States and into Canada, the band entered the studio to record their debut full-length, Empress/Abscess. Picking up where Akrasia left off, Empress/Abscess delves once again into a cesspool of misery, fury, and anguish with stunning cover art by Kikyz1313 (Akrasia). The album will be released as a collaborative effort, with Broken Limbs Recordings taking charge with vinyl and cassettes, while the band will be self-releasing the CD/digital version under the moniker Manatee Rampage Recordings.

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Olympia, Washington-based 20 Buck Spin has hooked up with Denver, Colorado’s doom quartet Khemmis for the band’s impending debut LP, Absolution, which is coming together for release later this Summer amidst extensive touring from the band.

20 Buck Spin has, over the course of the last ten years, worked with the best of the best in the crowded doom genre; bands as diverse as Samothrace, Graves At Sea, Pallbearer, Yob, Mournful Congregation, Lycus, Atlantean Kodex and more. In that tradition, the label is proud to present Khemmis, a quartet from Denver, who, on their debut full-length brings components of many of the aforementioned label alumni and create a testament to what heavy doom rock is in 2015.

The six meticulously crafted songs on Absolution reveal a level of musicianship and writing skill seldom heard on debut albums. Often within the scope of a single song, Khemmis veers effortlessly between the crushing heaviness of Southern sludge and the sombre melodies of traditional doom metal, cohesively weaving the disparate styles into their own immediately recognizable form. Vocally, Khemmis also utilizes a dual approach, sometimes harsh and guttural, but generally through a stunningly smooth classic doom/heavy rock delivery that even adamant fans of Pete Stahl and Wino will applaud. The powerfully adept rhythm section perfectly anchor the towering riff mastery and colorful dual guitar harmonies, all brought together by Dave Otero’s (Cobalt, Nightbringer) pitch perfect production work.

From the album opener “Torn Asunder” to closing track “The Bereaved,” the latter of which will stand as the doom track of 2015, Absolution positions Khemmis among the highlight surprises of the year. The band is most certainly a live act and will tour at intervals throughout the remainder of 2015, including a planned West Coast US run in Summer 2015. Fans of Goatsnake, Pallbearer, Samothrace, Graves At Sea, Red Fang and Yob should keep the name Khemmis at the top of their list of bands to watch this year. The album’s fantastic Frazetta inspired cover art by Sam Turner (Speedwolf, Black Breath, Trve Brewing) is notable.

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All Pigs Must Die are bringing their blistering take on volatile hardcore/metal to the UK for the very first time in July, as part of only two European dates this year (the other one being Roskilde Festival, Denmark). The band, who are well known individually for their roles in other acts such as Converge, The Hope Conspiracy, American Nightmare and The Red Chord, will be playing London’s Underworld on July 5th, with Krokodil, Quiet Man, and the newly reformed Throats supporting.

Xibalba has issued an official video for the revolutionary anthem “Guerrilla,” one of the most vital tracks from their third LP, Tierra Y Libertad, which saw release in January via Southern Lord Recordings.
In complete DIY fashion, Xibalba basically took the concept of their classic “Cold” video to the next level, this time the overthrowing an entire neighbourhood in their hometown of Pomona, California. Directed, shot and edited by Shawn Skadburg and Matt Welch for Nine/One films, with footage by Danny Mayo and Mike Sogoff, the video for “Guerrilla” features a brutalizing live uprising filmed at a live outdoor show in a Pomona neighbourhood, utilizing the voices of their friends and family to carry the message of the track to the masses.
With new tour dates and festival appearances confirmed, Xibalba continue to deliver their piledriving death metal-infused hardcore in support of Tierra Y Libertad through the Summer months. September will see Xibalba hitting Ghostfest in Leeds and Bristol, UK on 5th and 6th of the month alongside Hatebreed, Emmure, Despised Icon, Born Of Osiris, Turnstile and more.
Tierra Y Libertad was recorded by Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, Disgrace) at The Pit in Van Nuys, California, the LP’s forty-four minute onslaught delivers more haunting, atmospheric tones and traumatic death-infused metallic hardcore. Tierra Y Libertad is available on CD and grey vinyl LP direct through Xibalba’s Southern Lord store here, and digitally through BandCamp here, as well as through All In Merch including a t-shirt package here.

 

Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, alongside fellow Montreal artist Charles-André Coderre, returns with If He Dies, If If If If If If, a second full-length album from his acclaimed Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) project, conceived and recorded in his dual homes of Montréal and Beirut.

Known for his production and engineering work with artists as diverse as Matana Roberts (all three chapters of her Coin Coin recordings to date), Mashrou’ Leila, Ought, Eric Chenaux (with whom he also released a collaborative album for the Grapefruit Records Club) and Suuns (with whom he also released a collaborative album on Secretly Canadian in spring 2015), Moumneh has been firing on all cylinders over the past few years. He has brought JIMH to mesmerized live audiences in Canada, Europe and the Middle East since the release of his first album in 2013, following many years during which the project was a strictly Montréal-based live/theatrical happening. While JIMH continues to expand to include a larger cast of players for select engagements and commissions, the group is currently an immersive and performative audio-visual duo at its core, with Moumneh responsible for all sound/composition and Coderre creating 16mm visuals and live projections/installations.

Moumneh expands his compositional palette on If He Dies, If If If If If If, exploring new deconstructions and juxtapositions of both traditional and popular Arab musical currents, with an album that oscillates between powerfully emotive vocal tunes and instrumental works that primarily make use of Radwan’s expressive acoustic playing on buzuk as a point of departure. One of Moumneh’s finest melismatic a cappella vocal performances opens the album, followed by the uncharacteristically literal-titled “A Granular Buzuk”, where said instrument is processed, re-sampled and otherwise disrupted through Radwan’s real-time custom signal patches. “7ebr El 3oyoun” follows with languidly plaintive vocals set against a gradually accelerating riff underpinned by hand percussion, and Side One closes with a scabrous white noise intervention wherein the entire audio mix is fed through a contact mic placed in Radwan’s mouth. Moumneh continues to channel his love for Arabic pop and Casio/cassette culture on the silky lo-fi dance of “Lau Ridyou Bil Hijaz?” which opens Side Two, then pays homage to the until-recently-exiled Kurdish poet and singer Sivan Perwer on the traditional-minded, unadorned folk tune “Ta3mani; Ta3meitu”. The album closes with a tour-de-force drone piece built from Bansuri flute (performed by guest player Dave Gossage) and a delicate acoustic number set against the sound of waves recorded on a beach in Lebanon. (Song titles employ the transliterative characters used in Arabic phone texting.)

Coderre’s creation of the album artwork involved re-photographing images on 16mm film and then developing that film with bespoke chemical treatments of his own discovery and invention; the cover images result from this entirely hand-made and analog process. The album art is also an extension of the JIMH raison d’etre: the pursuit of innovative reciprocal relationships between celluloid film and live music performance, and the preservation of and experimentation with manual photographic methods and materials amidst a culture/tech industry that encourages the obsolescence of celluloid.

If He Dies, If If If If If If is an adventurous, scrupulous, impassioned and highly original work of modern contemporary Arabic music and a gratifying sign that Jerusalem In My Heart is situating itself in recorded works with the same thoughtful and dynamic intensity previously accessible only in live performances.

Much of the music described above will be featured in future editions of the Sonic Attack podcast.

Rarified Mixtures and Sad Farewells

A few bits of news before I disappear for a week to watch England play India at Old Trafford – let’s hope the weather stays dry……anyhow…..

The ever prolific Melvins return with “Hold It In”, their first studio album as a quartet since 2010’s The Bride Screamed Murder. Joining Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover for the 12-song album are Butthole Surfers‘ guitar player Paul Leary and bass player JD Pinkus. The album was recorded in both Los Angeles and Austin earlier this year, and shall be released via Ipecac Recordings this October.

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Bitchin Bajas‘ self-titled new album is according to the promo  “something delicate yet definite, gradually washing over your consciousness. Something pure and natural is happening-within the sound, within the song; in the album and in you. The shifts that come, make changes in your moods and your body temperature. On one hand, it is in many ways the ultimate album; and on the other, barely even an album at all. Where these ideas meet is immediately realised in the come-to-life video for the song, “Bueu””.

Using analog, modular video synthesizers, the video for “Bueu” was created by Nick Ciontea and is the first in a series of videos planned for each and every movement on the Bajas’ self-titled new album. The rest are set for a special, digital-only release of the album, available exclusively from Drag City. Tune in and drop out and watch 12 minutes of trippy visualisations.

Portland’s furious sci-fi punks, Big Black Cloud, are back from the lab with their latest dirty bomb, the cassette EP Lessons In Fuck You 2. Tripling down on their intoxicating rarefied mix of punk, noise, psych, surf, and rock, the agita trio takes a dark trip that drives and swerves like a B-movie soundtrack through threat-level guitar attacks, groovy alien eviscerations, and goddamn-us-all-to-hell preaching.

The band is from Portland, Oregon, and comprises guitarist/vocalist Nick Capello, bassist/vocalist Soo Koelbli, and drummer Travis Wainwright. Formed in 2005, They have released two 7-inches, a 10-inch, two 12-inch LPs (Dark Age and Black Friday), and the Shitty Vibrations cassette. They channels inspiration from sources as disparate as Brainbombs and the Beatles, Dolphy and Mingus, and Italian horror and creature features into unhinged rock ‘n’ roll that hits the high marks and innovation of noise-punk greats like Pere Ubu, Circus Lupus, Dead Kennedys, Cows, and Alice Donut.

Lessons In Fuck You 2 was borne of demo sessions recorded and mixed by Andrew Grosse of Caravan Recording (Drunk Dad, Tyrants, Tiny Knives) for the next  LP, the record capturing the band in its own anxiety-fueled element, a rollercoaster ride through a collapsing amusement park of overdriven shout-alongs and untethered instrumentals. The recordings, done on location with a mobile unit in the underground lair of the The Fancy Fox, gave the ever-prolific trio a chance to work through a host of new and old ideas. Whether due to the (dis)comfort of their own space, nothing-to-lose abandon, or present states-of-mind, Lessons In Fuck You 2 finds the band in top form: frantic, pissed-off, and sinister as they further explore their own dark territory with off-balance grooves, instrumental street-race sex jams, and wild freakouts, jagged guitar and cracking drums glued together with rubbery bass overlain with can-you-hear-me-now yells.

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Los Angeles sludgecore unit, Colombian Necktie  are about to release  their debut full-length, Twilight Upon Us. Named in honor of a song by Big Black but more commonly known as a method of murder where the victim’s throat is slashed and the tongue is pulled through the open wound, the album is  produced by Erol “Rollie” Ulug (Graf Orlock) at Bright Lights Studios, is the sonic equivalent of this violent and visceral act boasting thirteen maniacal tracks of dark, riff-heavy, emotionally stirring audio menace.

Since forming in the Los Angeles in the autumn of 2010, the band — vocalist Scott Werren, guitarists Juan Hernandez-Cruz and Ben Daniels, drummer Ben Brinckerhoff and bassist Alex DuPuis — has earned a reputation for their punishing riffs and maniacal DIY work ethic. Though clearly rooted in hardcore, tracks like the syncopated, sludgy death march of “Play The Game” and midtempo thrash of “Drought,” complete with squealing synths, add a welcome dose of variance to an album that’s uncompromising in its aggression. “We don’t feel like we fit in any one genre, we just kind of slam things against a wall and focus more on how it makes us feel than where it fits in,” Hernandez-Cruz admits. “Our influences range from Cave In and Snapcase to Orchid and Page 99 so we never try to limit ourselves when it comes to what we do stylistically.”

It hasn’t been a painless ride for the members of the band however and correspondingly, much of Twilight Upon Us is rooted in tragedy as evidenced in the ten-minute opus “Kevin’s Song.” “Kevin was a close friend of ours and former bandmate who actually brought the band together. When he passed away, something came over us and we started writing differently,” Hernandez-Cruz reflects. “The tragedy was really heavy because Kevin was just driving to a show in San Francisco and we knew it could have been any of us.” Instead of falling into depression, the band used their friend’s death as the catalyst to the manifestation of Twilight Upon Us.

“So much of the record is about loss and the struggle to try to cope in a city [Los Angeles] that isn’t always forgiving,” Hernandez-Cruz continues. “The silver lining is that this experience brought us closer as friends and musically in the sense that it made us all vulnerable and forced us to really listen to each other.”

Whether it’s the progressive bridge of “Weep For The Future” or ethereal intro to “Sleepwalking,” the bond the members developed over the past two years helped them dig deeper to incorporate elements that they never could have conceptualized in a perfect world. “This record has a lot of pain on it and a lot of unpredictable moments but it also feels good if that makes any sense,” Hernandez-Cruz summarizes, “and listening to this collection of songs, the listener gains the sense that not only are they not alone but that he or she can gain strength in the darkest of moments.”

Twilight Upon Us will be released independently on August 19th, 2014.

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And it is with great sadness I mark the passing of Positronik.  The band has been a key part of my life for the last four years or so and it is regretful that their excellent tunes didn’t get the audience they deserve. MzDee who left some time back continues to work with Blue Zen, and it is has been, I think, the failure to find a suitable replacement for Danielle that has led us to this situation. Monty continues to perform bass duties for Kit B, as well as his solo project The Junta (whose first gig will be at this years Salford Music Festival). Jeff Black is working again with Carl Lingard of Pearl Divers fame. All three of  the latter group of musicians can be heard on the Salford Streets Charity album.

 

 

 

 

A young persons guide to……

The Cryin' Queerwolf
The Cryin’ Queerwolf

The Cryin’ Queerwolf has been in touch with a preview of the beast’s forthcoming releases – I am advised that a new  download ep “The Queer Can’t Help It” including original studio versions of ‘Mr Melty Head’, ‘Sewing Circle’ ‘Brandy Boys’ and ‘Handbag’ plus new tune ‘Shemale’s Secret’ is on its’ way. A new album “Legends”, which I have heard early mixes of, is due soon also, once some wrinkles have been ironed in the sonic area. All of the aforementioned will be featured at some point on a future Aural Delights Podcast. The subject matter is very interesting indeed and introduced me to some historical matters of which I was not previously aware. There is also a very special appearance on the album – I shall leave you on tenterhooks on that one!

The second album in the homage series praising the works of the celebrated American country/folk singer-songwriter, “Songs Of Townes Van Zandt Vol II”, includes nine new covers featuring contributions provided by a wide cast of musicians. The prime collaborators for the album are Mike Scheidt (YOB, VHÖL), John Baizley (Baroness) and Nate Hall (USX), with additional contributions from Katie Jones, Stevie Floyd (Dark Castle, Taurus) and Dorthia Cottrell (Windhand). It is released on 10th March on My Proud Mountain.

The opening track to Songs of Townes Van Zandt Vol II, a solo rendition of “To Live Is To Fly” performed by Mike Scheidt is the latest audio insight into this new release. Scheidt, whose main act, YOB, recently signed to Neurot Recordings (releasing Songs Of Townes Van Zandt Vol II in the US), recalls where he first learned of Townes Van Zandt and became part of the man’s obsessive fanbase…

“I worked in a fantastic guitar shop called Mckenzie River Music in Eugene Oregon from 1996-2003,” Scheidt begins. “This dusty, cluttered guitar shop was no ordinary shop. We had the best of the best. Pre-World War II Martin and Gibson acoustic and electric guitars, vintage 50s/60s Fender guitars and amps, the most valuable and collectable gear you could buy, along with player’s priced quality gear. It was Dick Gunn, the shop’s senior salesman and RIPPING country picker, who first turned me on to Townes. It was a gift for Christmas, a CD with both High Low And In Between, and The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. Upon first listen, I knew I was listening to something that wasn’t just great. It smacked of Truth, capital T. Whether that truth be tender and lighthearted, or take you to places so low that you could hardly pick yourself back up, it was so heavy. The way he combined language and guitar chords is one of a kind. Untouchable. Dick Gunn passed away in 2007, and I have yet to still reconcile his loss inside of myself. He taught me so much, gave me everything he had to teach as a player and a human. Listening to Townes functions on multiple levels for me. One of the most treasured experiences of listening to Townes is remembering my friend Dick Gunn, how we picked together, how we talked about Townes and knew that we knew that we knew he was THE BEST. Through and through.”

My head has been pretty fritzed up by the new Dead Rider album “Chills On Glass” which is an amazing mix of genres/styles etc. A fascinating amalgam of rock bits and pieces all chucked in with glitchy percussives etc. Dead Rider, comprises  Matthew Espy (drums, conga, percussion), Andrea Faught (synth, piano, trumpet, trombone, vocals), Thymme Jones (synth, trumpet, vocals) and Todd Rittmann (vocals, guitar, drums). It was self-recorded, produced and mastered in the otherwise-unnamed Dead Rider studio suites, and its’ Rittman’s third outing under this badge. It’s all  a bit hard to describe really, being so unique,  so to help me explain here is their vid-chip of “Blank Screen” from the album. Recommended if you like your aural fayre to be challenging!

East (Coast) meets West (Coast) in noise rock: Whores and Rabbits have joined together to release a split 7″. And it is rather fine indeed – i’m especially fond of the Whores tune. It is released by Eolian Empire/Brutal Panda and came out on 18th February. The vinyl version, limited to 500 copies — 100 on pink/400 on black — the EP is housed in a full color fold-over jacket featuring art by Went Knipe and Josh Hughes.  The Whores “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” takes said train on a insanely heavy ride, the main riff stretched into a hypnotic groove forever beat into your brain. Rabbits open with the stark “A Reflection” before cranking out an uncaged, claustrophobic version of “Give Me It.”  All three tracks will be on a future edition of the Sonic Attack podcast.

Isis Panopt

After last year’s reissue of their debut album, “Celestial”,  attention has been turned to Isis‘s third full-length release, Panopticon – which has been remastered and comes complete with new artwork in a 12-page booklet – due for an April 28th release in the UK/Europe on Ipecac. This is an opportunity to revisit (or indeed, discover) an album which showcases the legendary band at their most confident. Originally released in 2004 the album melds the raw intensity of metal with  post-rock structures. Ground-breaking in both interpretations of the word, the band took the promise of Slint‘s “Spiderland” and carried it somewhere very interesting indeed. Wrongly labelled as metalcore in my opinion this band were far more important than the narrow confines of genre specificity. They manage to bring together a sense of the epic without drenching it in pomposity or excess.

About the reissue, drummer Aaron Harris comments, “I got the check disk from the manufacturer the other day and listened to Panopticon all the way through to make sure things were good to go. It was like taking a journey back in time. When ISIS was playing these songs regularly I wasn’t able to enjoy them as a listener. Now that I haven’t played these songs in years they’ve taken on a whole new identity for me. Mika Jussila did an amazing job with the remaster. The record has more detail and dynamics now. I feel that remasters sometime ruin the integrity of records, but I feel that fans will really appreciate this remaster, and maybe find a new appreciation for Panopticon, as I have.”

Vocalist Aaron Turner continues…“After some years away from the material Panopticon now feels like the most optimistic of all the ISIS albums, dark as the subject mater may be. Giving voice to my concerns about the loss of privacy and the deterioration of personal freedom through the lyrics on the album made those subjects weigh less heavily on my mind. Something about the sound of the songs feels open and bright to me as well – post-millennial depression and pre-apocalyptic paranoia hadn’t yet taken hold I suppose. Panopticon also feels like a turning point to me in the trajectory of ISIS, and serves as a personal place-marker for me in terms of how the world of music and music consumption was shifting radically around that time. Things have certainly become cloudier since then and more uncertain – in that way the subject matter of Panopticon also now seems a bit premonitory.”

I have not got the remastered version through yet – pending that I’ll feature some music from the original release in a future edition of Sonic Attack.

MSA Face

I made a lot of fuss about Mummy Short Arms a couple of years back – their excellent ‘Cigarette Smuggling’ was an instant must listen and the accompanying album “Old Jack’s Windowless Playhouse” proved to be just as excellent. They have a new single out called ‘Face Full Of Sand’ which continues their good work. ‘Face Full of Sand’ is out 14th April on Glasgow based label Flowers In The Dustbin, available from itunes and all major digital stores. The single includes a remix by JMX.

Casting the Pod – early February

Another set of podcasts have been put up for consideration……

SONIC ATTACK 39 – carries on with the recent theme of mangling obscure American (and in some cases Australian and European)  garage bands in with soon to be released metal – there’s also a new one from UK band Monster Jaw – there’s some pretty heavy stuff on the new release front so I thought it would be good to soften the blow – albeit on a minimal level -with some lo-fi things.

AURAL DELIGHTS 64 – features a couple of tracks from the new venture from Kill Pretty frontman Ian Moss – he calls it KP2 and there is work with London producer PRJCTXY (which I have played before but this is the final mix and bears a repeat) and Nemo (who is Ian’s brother Neil). The latter has been getting a bit of remix attention and that will no doubt will get an airing in due course. Aside from that there’s a track from Darwen’s India Mill – i’ve been sent a couple of tracks from their new album both of which are excellent. Show regular Johann Kloos makes one of his occasional appearances and I’m delighted to be able to feature the opening track from the new Moff Skellington album which is one of his best.  Pretty excited also about new Canadian band Ought who sound very promising indeed. In between lots of new releases and a couple of classics from the 70s.

There’s a one-off . special show featuring the newly released collaboration between PETER HAMMILL AND GARY LUCAS which includes tracks from that album (Other World)  as well as some key points in their individual careers. Peter’s solo stuff and Van Der Graaf , and Gary’s own bands and his work with Jeff Buckley, Beefheart and the Beefheart Jazz experiment Fast ”N Bulbous – there’s a fascinating variety of material in the 90 minute podcast demonstrating  their individual prowess and o the richness of the new album.

WORLD OF JAZZ 64 will follow later in the week and has reached N in my A to Z of less well known jazz artists.

KP2 new material featured on Aural Delights
KP2 new material featured on Aural Delights

New podcasts and other news

The latest set of Podcasts are now available over on the other blog…..

ROOM ON THE FLOOR 02 –  continues the semi-regular hour of tunes from the electronica, dance and ambient areas of music that I get sent. I’m continuing the feature tracks from the recent compilation from the excellent Emerald and Doreen lable “Hot Selection Vol 2”, and a similar collection called “The Best Sound of Deepest London”. There are also new promos from the oddly named James Bond Motherfucker, a brand new split from Rubberlips and Sonus which mixes up jazz, disco and dance/minimal house, plus , as well as a classic piece of P-Funk brand new stuff from Leeds based Ubertino Da Casale, a new one from Dirty Freud, another one from The Junta (whose single is out imminently), and material from Adrenochrome 100 aka the musical mind behind Da Mutts. The podcast will be back in two to three weeks depending on what gets sent in.

SONIC ATTACK 38 –  continues with a run of very obscure garage/punk/psych from the US and Australia, with the addition of a couple of older tracks from the same genre. In between selections from a run of albums released last year which I have only just been made aware of – mostly from the heavier end of the music spectrum – I got nine new albums in over the weekend and I am slowly working my way through them. Also featured are Warrington’s The Electric Mafia who are mining the rich seam of early 70s rock to create a fresh sound, and, a selection from The Get who are playing at the Queerwolf’s Closet at the Kings Arms in Salford on 1st February and sound like a combination of the Dead Kennedy’s and early Fall!

AURAL DELIGHTS 63 – is a bit of a mixed bag with a combination of a plays of artists playing at the aforementioned Queerwolf’s Closet – including another one from The Get – together with a lot of forthcoming releases – there’s a new pre-release mix of the fantastic Dusty Moonan tune “Wasp In The Car”, a track from the excellent Raw Bones who I saw in Liverpool  a few months back, another mix from Joe McKechnie of that excellent Cabaret Voltaire/Seeds pastiche from Star Spangled Banana  , another track from that Spidey ep, the new single from Volcanoes  and another track from the new EP from the rather marvellous Monkeys In Love. 

WORLD OF JAZZ 63 – which will be streamed from tomorrow will feature another selection of the less known members of the jazz world via my A to Z which has now reached the letter M.

I’m hoping to be getting hold of the new album from James Stevenson – original guitarist with Chelsea – it’s called Everthing’s Getting Closer to Being Over and features a stellar list of contributors, including :  Barriemore Barlow (Jethro Tull), Chris Bell (Thompson Twins, Spear Of Destiny, Specimen, Gene Loves Jezebel, Hugh Cornwell) Geoff Dugmore  (Killing Joke, Belouis Some, The Waterboys), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop etc) , Craig Adams (Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission, The Cult,) Pete Rizzo (Gene Loves Jezebel), Mark Taylor (Simple Minds, The Alarm, The Cult), Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet), The Sexpistilettos –  Maggi Ronson (Mick Ronson’s sister) Elizabeth Westwood (Westworld, Moondogg) , Tracie Hunter (Tracie Hunter Band, Ian Hunter’s Daughter). I’ll let you know what it sounds like!

For lovers of drone doom etc I am advised that the impending collaborative Terrestrials LP from SUNN O))) and ULVER  is due soon. Conceived in the interim 2008-2012 at Crystal Canyon Studios in Oslo, Norway, the musicians on this recording are Greg Anderson, Stephen O’Malley, Daniel O’Sullivan, Kristoffer Rygg, Jørn H. Sværen & Tore Ylwizaker – with additional appearances by Ole-Henrik Moe & Kari Rønnekleiv (viola & violin), Stig Espen Hundsnes (trumpet) & Tomas Pettersen (drums). Terrestrials was produced by Stephen O’Malley & Kristoffer Rygg, mixed by Anders Møller at Crystal Canyon during February & March 2013, and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone, London, April 2013. With art direction by Stephen O’Malley. There are three tracks on the release. Again. once I get a copy I will let you know what they have come up with.

Of a similar ilk and following the November release of their BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini two-track live 12” via Southern Lord, new recordings from WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM have been confirmed for a 2014 release. Following several months of anticipation, the Cascadian black metal band  comprised of brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver had trailed  their impending full-length release, “Celestite”. Taking a different approach than their previous LPs, Celestite is a completely newly envisioned, parallel-universe version of Celestial Lineage,  their  2011 album. Celestite brings  a whole new, ethereal approach. There are no drums and no vocals. Instead I am told you will get “….. deep, heavy crystalline synthesizer journeying, Eno-inspired analog processing and arcane acoustic instrumentation…”.  Paired once again with producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Master Musicians Of Bukkake), Celestite came to fruition at Avast Studios and WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM’s own Olympia-based studio Owl Lodge. While cloistered during the recording sessions they made use of a mammoth arsenal of crumbling vintage equipment including a Serge Modular System, Korg Poly6, Korg MS20, Korg Mono/Poly, Roland Juno 106, Roland Jupiter 6, Roland Super jx10, Jomox Airbase 99, Access Virus and more. The album also features a guest wind ensemble including friends Josiah Boothby on French Horn, Steve Moore (Earth, Sunn O))), Stebmo) on Trombone, and both Mara Winter and Veronica Dye on flute.

Wolves In The Throne Room have announced their new album
Wolves In The Throne Room have announced their new album