Archive for April, 2016

 

End Of Mirrors is the forthcoming full length from Oakland-based dark punk conjurors Alaric. Set for global release on May 6th on CD, vinyl, and digitally via Neurot Recordings, and on cassette via Sentient Ruin Laboratories.  The record, captured and mixed by Skot Brown at Kempton House Studios, provides an emotional and deeply physical journey through inky, blackened sonic murk, devoid of all hope. Oppressive, gloomy, and epically grandiose, each of the seven psalms comprising End Of Mirrors is at once beautiful and unsettling, and as a precursor to its release, you can now hear the track ‘Mirrors’ here:

Ritual Productions – 6th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

PYR is the third album by sludgelords Ghold, and the press release promises an album ‘towering with a sonic thickness, frantic dizzying energy and shattering immediacy, penetrated by despondent howls and an uncompromising slice of remorselessness’. Christ. So it’s heavy, then?

You could say that. It begins with a slow throb, a low, deep bass tone that borders on ambience and lurks on the peripheries of awareness. Off course, you know it’s going to come in heavy at some point, but the suspense… The release is glorious. A throbbing beast of a riff ploughs in, the bass dominant, the occasional vocals barely audible in the landslide of sludge. After the 11-minute monolithic beast that is the first track, ‘Collusion with Traitors’, ‘Blud’ piledrives in with a squalling frenzy that’s more Fudge Tunnel than Sunn O))) and clocks in at an uncharacteristically concise five minutes.

‘CCXX’ brings more weight and overloading riffs with crushing bass to the fore, but it’s the 21-minute ‘Despert Thrang’ which dominates the album in every way. It’s practically an album in its own right. Again, it’d all about the build, about the pacing. Gradually, a tempest rises from not a whisper but a downturned, growl. Blasts of percussion and powerchords blast in, haltingly, threatening to break but holding back until finally, the levee breaks and the riff powers forth. What else is there to do buy clench your fists, mouth ‘fuck yes’ and get down? It’s got some serious heft, and evolves over the course of its epic span, finally culminating in a blitzkrieg of noise.

While this is very much an album made for vinyl – of the kind that you want to play rather than stick on your wall as some kind of hip-kid statement, the CD does offer a bonus cut in the shape of ;’Something of Her Old Fire’, a gnarly bass-driven grind that trudges its way mercilessly to a final climax.

For all the big distortion and emphasis on the bottom end, not to mention the relentless churn that defines the album, there is texture, and in terms of tempo changes and dynamic, PYR has considerable range. And yes, it’s devastatingly heavy.

 

pyr_front_final1000x1000

Ghold Online

Field Records – 17th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Karhide is Tim Waterfield, whose biography notes that he’s been programming beats for as long as DJ Shadow, but where Josh Davis came from a background of hip hop culture and breakbeats, Tim’s electronic upbringing in the East Midlands was through the industrial-strength beats of Godflesh and Frontline Assembly.

Formerly of ‘Big Black-but-one-louder’ Nottingham duo Ann Arbor, he throws all his past experience onto a choppy, grindy, angular racket on this two-track single release.

It’s a squalling treble-orientated racket with infinite twists and turns, a gnarly hybrid of Shellac and Truman’s Water and Jacob’s Mouse and Oils Seed |Rate and Arsenal, driven by the piston-pumping relentless thump of drum machine rhythms in the vein of Big Black. It’s abrasive, harsh and sinewy. And yes, it’s awesome.

 

Karhide

Ici d’ailleurs… IDA102 4th March 2016

James Wells

Taking only half of a well-known phrase by way of a title, The Calm Before carries an implicit connotation of incompleteness, something unfinished, abridged. While there’s nothing remotely sketchy or half-formed about the six tracks on this album, their sparse, spare and elegant folk qualities do subscribe to a certain degree of minimalism.

As Third Eye Foundation, Elliott singlehandedly redefined the parameters of drum ‘n’ bass, while his solo work is broadly categorised as dark folk. The Calm Before isn’t really so dark, and doesn’t have the same sombrenesss of, say, Drinking Songs.

The simple acoustic instrumental piece, ‘A Beginning’, which appropriately introduces the album, has a lilting, lullaby quality, which drifts into the 14-minute title track. Elliott croons gently, quietly, calmly, the melody ascends and descends. Its simplicity is its strength, and the mood is at once uplifting and wistful.

‘I Only Wanted to Give You Everything’ finds Elliott in a darker place, a delicately picked guitar line reminiscent of early Leonard Cohen providing the backdrop to his Thom Yorke-like mumblings, before shuffling beats creep in and gradually swell while widescreen strings swoop in and build to a crescendo of abject rejection as he repeats ‘but you don’t love me…’ over and over.

There’s a downtempo Latin flavour to ‘Wings & Crown’, which demonstrates almost rockist tendencies, before the final track, ‘The Allegory of the Cave’ offers some light at the end of the tunnel as soft ambient notes drift over distant beats and piano and acoustic guitar skip lightly towards hope.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/153519419

Matt Elliott – The Calm Before (teaser) from Ici D’Ailleurs… on Vimeo.

Matt Elliott - Calm Before

http://www.thirdeyefoundation.com/

The Flower Shop Recordings – 15th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a long time since Sophia last released an album. In fact, it’s been seven years since the appropriately-titled There Are No Goodbyes, the last studio release from Robin Proper-Sheppard’s post-God Machine vehicle. It doesn’t seem right to ask if it was ‘worth the wait’. How does one measure worth in the context of time? The burden of expectation inevitably leads to disappointment. It’s also inevitable that people will relate to different albums in different ways, for various reasons, I will always have a special affection for People Are Like Seasons. That doesn’t mean it’s Sophia’s best album. So it’s important to approach As We Make Our Way with fresh ears. And on its own merits, As We Make Our Way is far from disappointing.

The opening track, ‘Unknown Harbours’ is a delicate instrumental. With its chiming guitars and melancholic hue, it’s almost post-rock in form.

The first track proper, ‘Resisting’ offers some of the most overtly ‘rock’ music in Sophia’s oeuvre to date. While retaining the bittersweet tones that have come to characterise Sophia’s output, there are some surging guitars that not only hint at heavy shoegaze, but, more significantly, evoke the spirit of The God Machine. However, it would be a mistake to place too much emphasis on comparing Sophia to The Good Machine: they’ve very, very different entities, although at the core of both bands lies Proper-Sheppard’s ability to imbue his songs with an emotional depth.

While The God Machine were laden with angst and had an undeniable sonic impact, Sophia are much more understated in their sonic approach. And while there was an existential beauty that struck to the core of the human condition in Proper-Sheppard’s lyrics in his previous incarnation, the world of Sophia offers the chance for the listener to find the universal within the personal. It works, too – by which I mean, I can’t help but feel a certain emotional pull while listening to their albums, and As We Make Our Way is no exception.

If the album does settle into a downtempo, acoustic-led style, heavy with introspection, reflection and wistful sadness around the mid-section, then it does so with grace and maintains the form which has been a constant of the band’s work since Fixed Water in 1996.

Besides, there is variety, from the slow-burning anthemic indie of ‘Blame’, to the anxious bass-driven thrust of ‘St. Tropez / The Hustle’ with its psychedelic hue and refrain of ‘the shit don’t get no higher’. ‘You Say It’s Alright’ also brings some beefy percussion and swirling keyboards into the mix, and while on one level it’s a quintessential Sophia album, As We Make Our Way also pushes outwards to extend their pallet in so many directions. To describe it as a ‘triumphant return’ would be both an overstatement and a cliché, but with depth and range, As We Make Our Way has ‘grower’ written all over it.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3017009237/size=small/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/transparent=true/

 

Sophia - As We Make

http://www.sophiamusic.net/

Ritual Productions – 22nd April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The Poisoned Glass is the current musical venture of G. Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy59, formerly of Seattle doom metallers Burning Witch who called it a day in 1998. While former bandmates Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have gone on to achieve world domination, Dahlquist and Edgy59 have maintained rather lower profiles. As such, The Poisoned Glass are unlikely to garner the kind of attention Sunn O))) receive, but this is no sleight on their output: 10 Swords is dark, heavy, textured, and immensely atmospheric.

The album begins sparse, stark and dark, with the six-and-a-half minute ‘Plume Veil’; a ringing drone hovers icily. Anguished vocals intonating impenetrable lyrics emerge amidst erratic percussion that hits like cracks of thunder, and bass notes that register the kind of vibrations that could cause mountains to crumble.

‘Toil and Trouble’ is an elegiac, spiritual piece, haunting in tone and vast in magnitude, its sepulchral tones rent by demonic howls of pain and extraneous crackles of surging noise which seemingly rise from the underworld.

It’s incredibly dark stuff that borders on the oppressive at times; drones and groans, rumbling piano chords echoing in empty rooms of crumbling castles. The vocal harmonies on ‘Verbatim’ are overtly rock in style, but set against a doomy bass trudge that’s as crushingly heavy as planets colliding.

CD bonus cut ‘The Still Air’ marks quite a departure from the rest of the album; it still features brooding, droning atmospherics, but is led by a soulful vocal acapella which is every bit as compelling as the cold noise that radiates from the other tracks.

 

New (March) PG album cover

The Poisoned Glass at Ritual Productions Online

ARTEksounds – ART003

Christopher Nosnibor

The extensive liner notes describe Glowicka’s latest release as an album 400 years in the making. This isn’t a literal statement, but a reflection on the evolution and reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s work over the course of the time since it was first written. It is, undoubtedly, testament to the way in which Shakespeare so adeptly tapped into the many facets of the human condition that his work still resonates today. In short, his work speaks through the ages and transcends time.

So what of Katarina Glowicka’s engagement with his sonnet cycle, first published in 1609 and the subject of intense debate in academic circles even now, long after a consensus has been reached over many of their deeper meanings? Seven Sonnets gathers two sessions from a decade apart, written and performed by Katarina Glowicka with Aaron Zlotnik and Rubens Quartet. Both combine string arrangements with Glowicka’s unconventional electronic soundscapes and quite remarkable vocals.

I’m not about to get bogged down in the technicalities of the sonnet form, the differences between the Petrarchan, Spencerian and Shakespearean sonnet here. Suffice it to say that a selection of Shakespeare’s 14-line verses provide the basis for the lyrical content of the pieces here, but musically, the compositions are far less strict.

‘Summers Day (1999) features three pieces, which are comparatively concise, but still manifest as quite organic, freeform musical works. ‘My eye hath played the painter’, drawing on Sonnet XXIV and Sonnet XXVII and grappling with a classic Elizabethan sonnet trope of the torment of love, is delicate, the trilling operatic vocal soaring heavenwards over minimalist strings.

The three pieces slide into one another, culminating in the dolorous ‘My love is strengthened’, on which the strings weep and wail, swoon and sway. Glowicka forges a rarefied spiritual atmosphere with her choral delivery.

The four ‘Spring’s day’ pieces are longer, with ‘When my love swears’ speaking of unconditional love over a fractured musical backing before the 10-minute ‘Love is too young’, which transitions through passages of soft ambience to pastoral strings laces with melancholy and flickers of dissonance.

‘Sweet love’ builds subtle drama, Glowicka skipping lightly through Sonnet LVI, before ‘All Naked’, a stripped-back audiowork which is spun around Sonnet XXVI concludes the album, leaving the listener feeling… how precisely does the listener feel? The power of any work lies not in the direct message it conveys, but in the way it resonates with each individual who engages with said work. Just as Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets stir different emotional responses in each person, connecting with different life experiences, so Glowicka’s Seven Sonnets is and album which does not require a critic to steer a particular line of engagement. It resonates on a uniquely personal, individual level.

 

Glowicka - Seven

 

Glowicka Online

 

The Poisoned Glass (the duo of Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy59) unveil debut album 10 Swords  through Ritual Productions on 22nd April. Ahead of the release and coinciding with the start of their first European tour, they’ve offered up for public consumption ‘Low Spirits’. ‘Stockhausen-esque’, it’s bleak, downtuned, doomy and difficult. We like it. Hear it here:

 

https://i2.wp.com/screamingguitars.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/287143_1.jpg

LIVE SHOWS:

14/04/2016 Netherlands, Tilburg – Het Patronaat, Roadburn Festival
15/04/2016 Belgium, Brussels – Magasin4
16/04/2016 Germany, Osnabrueck – Bastard Club
17/042016 Czech Republic, Prague, Chapeau Rouge
18/04/2016 Germany, Hamburg, MS Stubnitz
20/04/2016 Norway, Oslo – Blitz
22/04/16 – Belgium, Antwerp – Antwerp Music City Issue
24/04/2016 Netherlands, Amsterdam – OCCII
26/04/2016 – France, Lille – Centre Culturel Libertaire (CCL)
27/04/2016 France, Paris – La Mécanique Ondulatoire
28/04/2016 UK, Bristol – The Exchange
29/04/2016 UK, London – The Black Heart, Desertfest

Cult Records/Custom Made Music -22nd April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The album’s intro is immense. I mean, it builds and builds and threatens a blast of noise akin to Prurient, before the tide breaks and a sepulchral goth sound breaks out. Echoic guitars snake through a wash of reverb against a hipswaying bass groove as the mid-tempo opening track, ‘Confusion Hill paves the way for album steeped in vintage post-punk, but with more than enough inventiveness to stand up in its own right.

As much as it’s The Sisters of Mercy around the time of First and Last and Always it’s Suspiria. High on theatrical drama, bathed in reverb, ‘Observed in a Dream’ is an album which closely observes some old-school production values and uses them to good effect. The drums are up in the mix, the bass is low-slung and murky, and the guitars are brittle and fuzzy around the edges as they explore Dorian scales.

There are no shortage of highlights. The tetchy ‘Lovesick’ appropriates The Fall’s ‘My New House; and plays with a swampy psych vibe that’s both 80s Matchbox and The Volcanoes, throwing in a few dollops of Lloyd Cole and The Bunnymen into the mess.

‘Upside Down (the death loop’) plunges into deep psychedelic territory with its repetitive guitar motif and motorik drumming swathed in cavernous reverb, while the shadow of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry hangs long over the driving ‘Weightless’, and the title track sounds like a heavy collision between The Black Angles and The Jesus and Mary Chain, all throbbing bass, squalling feedback amidst an ocean of echo.

Whereas so many of the 90s wave off goth-inspired bands conspired to produce music that was arch and soulless, Mayflower Madame push a much more organic sound that’s geared toward psychedelic rock with a dark, smoky delivery that’s cool as fuck, evoking the spirit of The Doors as filtered through The Sisters, as if The Reptile House EP had been played with a live drummer. They keep it tight and keep it taut, but know how to cut loose and wig out when the mood takes.

Goth ain’t dead, it was just waiting for a new messiah. Mayflower Madame have got the life, and Observed in a Dream is one of the most exhilaratingly atmospheric albums I’ve heard in a while. It’s nice to see some guys wearing hats, too.

Mayflower Madame - Observed in a Dream

Mayflower Madame on Bandcamp

Mayflower Madame

Kscope – 29th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Se Delan, a duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves and Swedish singer Belinda Kordic, have gone for a more natural and human sound on their second album, Drifter, after the stark soundscapes of 2014;’s The Fall. They may consider it to be more raw, but given that their style of music of a dark, new-wave-inspired nature, it’s necessarily controlled, stark and detached.

According to the press release, their collaboration is built on their shared influences of ‘music, film and life.’ I’m in no position to comment on the lives they’ve led or how those life experiences have shaped ‘Drifter’, an album preoccupied with madness, and in particular how the line between sanity and insanity can at times appear frighteningly thin.

The concept may be something of a cliché, but it’s eminently relatable. Mental health is a big topic right now, and it’s a shame that policy and society is so far behind what so many of us already knew: life is challenging, confusing, and in a world gone mad, it’s hard to even know where you are on the sanity scale from one day to the next. The duo articulate this beautifully on Drifter.

The album presents a very personal exploration of the theme, but in the personal lies the universal, and the album benefits from being based around some excellent tunes. Kordic’s vocals are breathy and warm despite the reverb that enshrouds them. Shifting between a tremulous Kate Bush to Toni Halliday via Gitane Demone, she covers haunting, tormented, sultry and more.

Fractal, gothy guitars swathed in chorus and metallic-edged flange chime as they crawl, spindly and tense around throbbing bass tones on the album’s opener ‘Going Home’, and a thick, flanged bass rumble drives ‘Ruined by Them’. Dreamy, seductive and very much cast in shadow, the title track is a song of desolate introspection on which Kordic questions her own very identity. The stark atmosphere is accentuated by a claustrophobic production reminiscent of The Cure’s Faith album.

‘Blue Bird’ finds Kordinc coming on like a cross between Siouxsie and Kate Bush over a hypnotic guitar line that cascades over a rolling bass, while ‘All I Am’ again hits a dense Curesque atmosphere. The seductive ‘Blueprint’ spirals out on fractal guitars, contrasting with the driving ‘In Obscura’ (do I hear hints of ‘Dominion’ in there? Hints of Disintegration?), while the spiky ‘Gently Bow Out’ is far from gentle, bearing serrated edges worthy of Savages.

Album closer ‘No Fear of Ghosts’ is a classic slow-builder which begins low, slow and haunting and ultimately explodes into a crescendo of dark tension, with a tripwire guitar line dominating the swirling tide of sound.

Am I going to throw in comparisons to acts like Ghost Dance, Rose of Avalanche and Sunshot too? Yes. While Drifter is dark and often bleak, it has a hooky accessibility that places Se Delan toward the poppier side of the goth spectrum. Owing far more to 80s post-punk than 90s shoegaze, Drifter showcases a band whose sound is not nearly as claustrophobic as the Sisters of Mercy in their early days, nor as spiky as Siouxsie or Skeletal Family, but who nevertheless capture the sound of 1984. It’s also magnificently executed, and most definitely recommend it.

KSCOPE351 da1x12xe digi .indd

Se Delan Online at KScope