Archive for May, 2016

Norwegian avantgarde rock/metal band Virus who release their new album  ‘Memento Collider’ next month have shared a new video made by Costin Chioreanu, who has worked with the likes of Paradise Lost, At the Gates, Mayhem, Spiritual Beggars, Roadburn Festival and many more. You can watch the video for ‘Rogue Fossil’ here:

 

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With the cold wave revival well under way and  a swathe of artists from mainland Europe at the forefront, there’s no shortage of dark music for dark times in circulation. Released 20th May on Kwaidan Records, Wendy Bevan’s ‘Sweet Dedication’ is as chilly as the Arctic Circle in winter, but also has a dreamy quality and a keen pop edge. It’s also got a subsonic bassline and a drum track that’s pretty much lifted fro Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Nag Nag Nag’ while also hinting at early March Violets. And that’s precisely why we dig it. Hear it here:

 

 

Wendy Bevan

 

http://wendy-bevan.com/

Washington riff rockers Mos Generatorwill release their new full-length Abyssinia on July 15th 2016 in Europe and August 5th 2016 in North America. In advance of its release, the  band have revealed the first single from Abyssinia in the form of ‘Wicked Willow’. Get your lugs round it here:

 

 

Mos Generator

Rock is Hell – RIP67

Christopher Nosnibor

This one’s been out a little while now but has only recently landed with me. I can’t feel too much guilt: Regolith aren’t exactly the fastest of movers, however you look at it. They’ve been going for a full decade, and despite having racked up a substantial catalogue of EPs and split releases, it’s taken until now to get around to a proper album (although, arguably, 2009’s Music for Hot Air Balloon, with its three tracks spanning a full hour, would constitute an album by most people’s reckoning). Musically, they’re not exactly about pace, either, trading in crawling ambient drone of almost incomprehensible proportions.

Their debut album proper isn’t exactly about the immediate hit, the hooks or the general accessibility, either, and necessarily requires time to engage, cogitate and digest.

I is a monster work: a double album comprising just four tracks. And the sound is as immense as the album’s duration, inching toward the 80-minute mark, with each of the tracks clocking in around 20 minutes in duration. But it’s not just about the length: feel the weight. The sounds may be produced electronically using analogue synths and a vast array of effects, and Regolith may describe themselves as ‘tech freaks’, but the material is heavily steeped in the tropes of doom. Having spent my childhood living on the flight path of the takeoff / landing of the RAF Vulcans, I feel qualified to make the analogy of the drones sounding like jet engines rumble and roar, a spectrum of lower-end frequencies that focus on the ribcage, the particle-splitting noise is also more than enough to terrorize the most dulled eardrums. ‘Platinum’ sounds like my young recollections of the Falklands War. The molecule-destroying, air-shredding sound engulfs the listener; the experience is immersive and annihilative.

‘Comet Tails’ is a far sparser affair, echoed beats decaying into the void, the space between the sounds comparable to the distance between planets. Gradually, as slowly as a planet on the outer reaches of a solar system orbits its sun, a low drone begins to rise and swell, a dark, large sonorous body of sound, a black hole cruising closer with inexorable determination. The hum continues to grow until its edges begin to distort and disintegrate and bleeds into ‘Star Trails’. One benefit of hearing this in a digital format is the two tracks do run together. Of course, the downside is simply that however enormous the sound, the full enormity can only really be conveyed via the medium of vinyl, and ideally on a decent set-up with a solid amp and some fuck-off powerful speakers. It’s an album that has the capacity to make the earth move.

The sound is more than fitting for a band named after ‘a layer of loose, heterogeneous superficial material covering solid rock, which includes dust, soil, broken rock, and other related materials and is present on Earth, the Moon, Mars, some asteroids, and other terrestrial planets and moons,’ and whose objective is to create ‘music on a geological scale; music of mountains, shifting like glaciers, slow and relentless processes on grand timescales’. The tracks on I are at once heavy on the ground, and beyond gravity, simultaneously tectonic in their movement and of galactic proportions.

Regolith

Regolith Online

clang records – clang040 – 20th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The formation of this four-track album emerged from something quite spontaneous. As Takeishi explains, ‘it was developed as a live percussion and electronics performance piece in Nov, 2015. The recordings from the actual performance and sound-check run-through were edited together to finalize the first three tracks of this release. I am very much fascinated by real time electronic processing of acoustic sounds. The fact that something simple and small, like a tap on a bell can be turned into a dense and intricate texture excites me with creative inspirations.’

As such, the recordings – at least the first three tracks here – are not only about process rather than composition, but are process, captured in real-time. And while the acoustic instruments are very much in evident, the way they very swiftly morph beyond recognition is, indeed, enthralling, because nothing is as it seems.

‘Primus’ twangs, detuned, retuned, out of tune, the notes bending and overlapping seemingly in a state of disorder, and soon the album’s trajectory reveals itself as fleeting moments of grace emerge from an ever-shifting away of tinkling chimes and funnelling drones. Strings scrape and scratch atop a woozy buzz on the lower frequencies and ominous hums hover and eddy.

The fourth track, ‘Quattour Elementa’ is essentially what the title suggests: four pieces put together to form one extended piece. Each segment offers a different sonic vista, formed as they are using different instruments – and only ever one or two on any one track. Again, it’s an exploratory piece that is concerned with, and captures, the process. Fortunately, rather than sounding like someone’s soundcheck or studio fiddling, or the musical equivalent of someone’s scrappy workings out for a new story or a difficult mathematical calculation, Dew Drops actually holds up as a work in its own right, and something worth listening to.

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Satoshi Takeishi – Dew Drops at clang Online

TE Morris – Newfoundland

Christopher Nosnibor

TE Morris, founder and front man of esteemed purveyors of post rock Her Name is Calla has enjoyed a lengthy detour as a solo artist over the last few years. He’s a man who’s overflowing with ideas and material, far more than one band could ever contain, and with the members of Calla strewn about the country, developing new material on top of rehearsing is a slow process. As such, the solo career, which has spawned a slew of albums and EPs, has been a very necessary outlet. When the creative juices are flowing, you just have to let them run. However, he’s announced that his focus from hereon in will be on the band alone, and that Newfoundland will be his last solo release.

Because Her Name is Calla is very much about collaboration and the organic development of material, with the individual members each contributing in various ways to the dynamic of the sound, Morris’ solo recordings have always stood apart from the band’s output. and while much of his solo material is sparse in its arrangement, often comprising only acoustic guitar and vocal, there is no sense that these are offcuts or outtakes of would-be, could-be Calla songs.

Having said that, Newfoundland, for the connotations of discovery, of new ground and of possibilities, and despite the implications of context, which carry a certain sense of closure as the ‘solo’ chapter of Morris’ career comes to an end, is the solo work which sounds and feels most like Her Name is Calla. And in doing so, it feels like Morris is returning home. Newfoundland is a work built on layered instrumentation, bringing texture and sonic depth to the songs.

The piano is prominent across the album’s thirteen tracks, and Morris’ haunting voice which often soars toward an otherworldly falsetto is a constant here, as ever, and fans of both Her Name is Calla and Morris’ previous solo work will be both unsurprised and no doubt relieved to learn that it’s a characteristically reflective, introspective and melancholic set of songs.

‘The Sea of Tranquillity’, a ten-minute epic, drifts through a succession of moods, the soft piano augmented by mournful strings as Morris emotes on being lost in space. It’s touching, moving and powerful in a restrained, refined way. ‘A Year in the Wilderness’ finds organ and a swell of strings add drama and a sweeping, cinematic feel to the song, which contrasts with the hushed intimacy of ‘How Far Would You Go to Disappear’ which immediately follows. ‘The Mountain’ again hints at the beauty and enormity of nature and at the same time the challenges of a personal, emotional mountain, and builds to a crescendo worthy of Her Name is Calla as he ascends toward its ragged peak – a triumph riven with an ultimate sense of failure, as he sings, defeated, ‘I let the woodlife crawl over me / And eat me from the outside and in’.

One of Morris’ distinct trademarks is his ability to pen lyrics which are simultaneously intensely personal, yet elliptical, conveying manifold shades of anguish, grief, turmoil, distress, reflection, and, very occasionally, joy. He does it all in a way which is subtle and elegant, and there’s a rare grace to his songs.

With its samples and distant electronic beat, ‘Trials’ marks something of a departure and shows Morris extending his sonic palette, a trajectory furthered on the yawning drone of ‘—‘ , the album’s third untiled track .The final track, the nine-minute ‘Lasting Words’ makes for a fitting sign-off, as he sings, relieved, elated but conflicted, ‘I don’t want to hear the silence / And I can’t wait to start again / Trying not to break away.’

In short – and as expected – it’s a beautiful record, and one that’s heavy with emotion. Such sorrow rarely sounded so magical.

 

 

TE Morris

Newfoundland Online at Olynka Records

Napalm Records – 27th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The promo write-up is right in observing that it’s ‘hard to imagine something called Krautgaze could be nurtured anywhere other than in Berlin’, describing the city as ‘the perfect breeding ground for a band like Suns Of Thyme: the five-piece lets space rock, shoegaze and psych with a nostalgic twist masterfully collide with death rock and the likes of Velvet Underground on its sophomore album Cascades.’

But to my old ears, as much as Cascades is shoegazey and psychedelic, what’s most striking is that the album’s nostalgia harks back to the goth sound of the mid 80s. It’s not the bleak post-punk sounds of Siouxsie and the Banshees or The Sisters of Mercy which filter into the sound of Cascades, nor the art rock of Bauhaus – the bands that defined goth without actually being goth, because goth didn’t even exist at that point – but the more accessible alternative bands that merged in their wake.

Loping drums drive fractal guitars that bend and shimmer on opener ‘Do Or Die’, a track which combines the gothy indie rock of Rose of Avalanche with the psychedelic grooves of The Black Angels, all under a vaguely Madchster haze.

There’s a undeniable indie rock / pop sensibility in evidence here, and ‘Intuition Unbound’ points straight back to 1986, amalgamating the celtic guitar motifs favoured by bands ranging from Ghost Dance to Balaam and the Angel via later Salvation. In some ways, it evokes a strange nostalgia for a strain of music that’s strangely detached from its origins and somewhat diluted in context of its roots, but it’s clear Suns of Thyme have both sense of thyme and plaice, as well as an aptitude for a certain sense of (melo)drama: ‘Ich Traum Von Dir’, while still evoking the spirit of 80s goth proffers forth credible moping and a disconsolation that’s actually quite affecting. It’s also a decent tune, and above all, tunes are what matter. There’s no shortage of them on Cascades. ‘Schweben’ builds a mellow shoegaze vibe over a lazy, motoric rhythm, with hints of Chapterhouse, but equally shoegaze revivalists like The Early Years.

And so it is that Cascades is an album that crosses a range of styles and periods, and in some ways, it’s difficult to disentangle nostalgia and anti-nostalgic kneejerk (of course, much of this is very much about a personal reaction on the part of one man who just so happens to be the reviewer), It isn’t always east to extrapolate sincere homage from the minefield of dubious dredging of the past. But Suns of Thyme manage to draw together a sufficiently broad range of ‘retro’ elements and combine them with some songwriting that’s savvy enough to give Cascades a life of its own.

 

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Suns of Thyme Online

At Aural Aggravation, we still remember when the grinning face of someone like Bruno Brookes would beam from the television screen and say, “It’s Friday night, it’s still number one, it’s Top of the Pops!” The demise of TOTP and the collapse into irrelevance of music charts, especially the UK Top 40 singles chart was more or less concurrent with the final and absolute corporatisation of the charts, and while we miss the good old days, it was always a fact that the most exciting music never got near the charts in the first place, even then.

And so, it’s 2016. It’s Friday night, you’re reading Aural Aggravation and here’s some Greek hardcore courtesy of Sarabante, whose second LP, Poisonous Legacy, will be releaed by Southern Lord on June 10th. As a taster, you can stream ‘Mass Grave’ here. Fuck yeah.

Crónica – CRÓNICA109

Given Ran Slavin’s broad artistic pursuits, which span video installation, sound and film, and his far-reaching interests which manifest in the exploration of the tensions between opposites, Bittersweet Melody is something of a summation of his preoccupations.

Just as ‘bittersweet’ is one of those words that encapsulates contradiction and juxtaposition, so Slavin’s latest album is built on contrasting sounds and forms. Culled and curated from pieces of work from Slavin’s archives and a release from over a decade ago, the material which comprises Bittersweet Melodies has been disassembled, reassembled and generally re-rendered.

A mellow organic drone hovers and hums through ‘Saturday’s Dress’, but the ambience is disrupted by very mechanical-sounding pings and spring and microtonal bleeps by way of irregular rhythms. A repetitive thrumming hum provides the framework for the minimal yet dense and sinister ambient hip-hop of ‘Category: Murdered Entertainers’, with distant snippets of exotica adding a heightened sense of the unfamiliar to its curious texture. Elsewhere, polyrhythmic percussion collides with stuttering trip-hop beats and eastern-flavoured scales entwine luscious soundtrack strings. Frenetic drum ‘n’ bass ballasts against shimmering electronic froth and looped vocal fragments wash in and out of rumbling scrapes, fear chords, dissonance and a rich soup of sound from all corners of the globe and of the recesses of the mind. Woozy ambience and glitchtronica waft into passages dominated by dank pulsations and murky, shadowy shapes.

The fragments evoke neither nostalgia nor excitement, but a sense of displacement, or alienation. How else does one respond to pan-cultural motifs overlaid and strewn with dancehall music and digital blips but with a sense of vague bewilderment? Slavin does not contrive to create a typical collage mash-up: Bittersweet Melodies is something altogether more subtle in many respects. Moreover, the contrasts and oppositions are moulded and melted into one another to as to become complimentary. Strange, disorientating and uncomfortable, with a lot happening simultaneously, but complimentary nevertheless.

 

 

Ran Slavin

 

Ran Slavin Online

Someone Good – RMSG – 18th March 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Reading the info accompanying the album, I was relieved to learn that it has nothing to do with football. Granted, it says more about me than it does anything or anyone else, but I’ve never been a huge fan of sport. It probably never helped that apart from being quite a handy medium-pace bowler with a nifty Yorker, and a decent cross-country runner (I discovered early on that by getting a move on, I could be back in the changing rooms, showered and reading a book before anyone else got halfway round the course. I loved reading, and hated communal showers), I was shit at sport. It also happens that many of the kind of people who are big sports enthusiasts simply aren’t my kind of people, and I consider fantasy football leagues the biggest, stupidest waste of time going. But let’s not focus too much on the cover art (I’m thinking that despite Tuttle’s Australian background that it’s baseball rather than Aussie rules, but what do I know? And what do I want to know? It could be squash or lacrosse for I care. What matters is that Andrew Tuttle’s fantasy league is about a utopian environment. Said environment sets social interaction against total isolation, self-reflexivity against self-confidence.

It’s an interesting proposition, and Tuttle plays an interesting and rather unusual array of instruments in order to create the sonic structures by which to explore this concept: computer, synthesiser, banjo, and acoustic guitar. Hardly your average configuration for music making. But then, Fantasy League is not an average album, in any respect.

Broadly speaking, it’s an ambient work. Banjo and guitar are present, but woven subtly into shifting, drifting soundscapes of drones and undulating widescreen sounds. Bubbling, bleeping electronics, ripples and swishes are all fundamental parts of the album’s sonic fabric. The strummed and picked strings add a unique slant amidst the burrs of fizzing treble bursts which erupt, wibbling every which way: with hints of hillbilly blues over a static hiss on ‘Forgtten Username?’ and gentle folk motifs informing ‘Forgotten Password? before insect scutters scrabble all over and devour them, the resultant output sounds like country music from another dimension. Elsewhere, there are Tangerine Dream-like moments, notably on ‘Public League’, where multiple time signatures pulse and interweave to form a sonic latticework.

What renders Fantasy League so intriguing and compelling is the way in which Tuttle distorts the familiar: the sounds themselves are no challenge to compute or comprehend, but the way in which they’re juxtaposed and twisted together is uncanny, as if Fantasy League is a soundtrack from a parallel universe. And it sounds like a place well worth visiting.

 

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