Archive for May, 2016

Long Branch Records and Mystic – 6th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Instrumental four-piece Tides From Nebula are an instrumental 4-piece fail from Poland. Some of you may already know that, especially if you’re reading this in Poland, given that I’m reliably informed that they’re Poland’s most popular post-rock band. But then, how big is post-rock in Poland? Big enough, I guess: it’s something that seems more popular in mainland Europe and beyond than domestically here in the UK, and home-grown post-rock acts like Her Name is Calla seem to have a bigger fanbase beyond the British Isles than at home. It’s not just about catchment or population: the UK seems, in the main, to be depressingly mainstream and conservative in its tastes. Anything remotely alternative is niche, and there’s little to no crossover between mainstream and alternative markets. Elsewhere, music fans seem altogether more accommodating and diverse, and the levels of enthusiasm shown to bands is significantly greater beyond the confines of our island shores too. I daresay that Tides of Nebula have felt the cultural differences during their extensive touring: since their inception, they’ve played over 500 shows globally, and Safehaven is their fourth album.

It is, without doubt, a quintessential post-rock album. The guitars chime and build their way, inexorably, to surging, euphoric crescendos that soar and sustain. Yet there’s an understated power evident here: there are some big chords, and the heavy strikes hang in the air with a long afterburn.

But then, ‘The Lifter’ marks a change of instrumentation and a change of style, the throbbing synths and more mechanised sound beneath the interweaving guitars presenting a sound more electronically focused, hinting more at Depeche Mode than the well-trodden post-rock conventions. And gradually, the album finds Tides from Nebula incorporate an increasing range of electronic instrumentation, and while as I say, it’ a quintessential post-rock album, it’s also an album that does a whole lot more and does so in a way that’s interesting and holds the attention instead of becoming bogged down in indulgent-wankery.

As the album’s cover art – a shot of the Cayan tower in Dubai or a manipuation thereof? – suggests, the album’s architecture is daring, and comes with a big twist. And as Safehaven demonstrates, it’s their ability to move beyond the conventions of straight, guitar-based post-rock – and to do so without it sounding forced or like a desperate push to step out of a well-worn post-rock rut – that really goes in the band’s favour. In fact, while the latest album by Explosions in the Sky sees them trying and failing to achieve precisely the same, Tides of Nebula succeed, striding confidently into expansive new territories. And in that context, it’s reasonable to call Safehaven a triumph.

Tides - Safe

 

Tides From Nebula Online

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Turner Prize winner Martin Creed is a quirky, whimsical, idiosyncratic bugger, and his polyartistry makes him hard to place. Which is part of his appeal.

‘Understanding’ is about arguments.

Creed explains it thus: “I think this song came from some arguments I had. People say it’s good to argue because your true feelings come out, and so it can lead to understanding. But feelings are like hair: you can’t choose what you have. I argued with my hair for years. I tried to persuade it, I tried to deny it, and in the end I had to admit that I was wrong. If you’re arguing with yourself and you realise you’re wrong, where does that leave you? Who wins? And what’s the best hairstyle for you? I want to understand and I wish I could be understood. And I would love it if I could understand myself.”

Hair… who’d have it?

‘Understanding’ is a taster for his his new album, Thoughts Lined Up,  released through Telephone Records on 8th July.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/167247762″>Understanding</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/martincreed”>Martin Creed</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Monika Enterprise – monika87 – 27th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The enigmatic Natalie Beridze’s latest album is accompanied by an appropriately enigmatic blurb, which references clouds, un and weightlessness. Such abstraction is entirely appropriate for an album that crates a blur of sonic abstraction and is housed in a cover which features artwork which is far from figurative. What does it all mean? Is it a dream? A hallucination? A mirage? Is it even real? Perhaps, perhaps not: it matters little. To capture and confine the material on Guliagava is more or less impossible. Every moment is fleeting, ephemeral. But then, to attempt to capture the moment would be to spoil the effect, and to diminish its power. It’s not about freezing the moment, but living in it.

The woozy, languid sensuality of ‘For Love’ possesses a smoky, opiate dreaminess. Soft-focus, rolling basslines undulate across stuttering, glitchy beats and gauze-like synths which spiral and drift. There’s a lot of space, a lot of smoke and mirrors as the sound reflect and refract to create strange, dislocated soundtracks. The howling metallic scrapes that open ‘Light is Winning’ give way to a dark, murky and menacing bassline and thunderous bass beats. If light is winning, it’s only just got the edge in what appears to be a truly monumental battle. ‘Natalie whispers, half seductive, half threatening, certain but uncertain: ‘Words, emotions, water, sweat / into the void / In outer space / Once there was only dark / But if u ask me / The light is winning.’

Chiming cadences emerge from within wispy, cloud-like atmospheres. But a deep, penetrating blast heralds the arrival of ‘Tore Up All My Maps’, a track built on the juxtaposition of mellow but taut vocals and a frenetic, heavy-duty drum ‘n’ bass rhythm. The shimmering glimmer of ‘Docha with Fading Grey’ is corrupted by the scratching of surface decay, a sonic rust misting the surface.

The soft vinyl-like crackle that casts a sheen over ‘Opening Night’ evokes a nostalgia not for vinyl, but for the heritage of vinyl, the subconscious yearning for another age, a pre-digital age. What precisely is it that one finds oneself pining for? It is, of course, something undefinable, vague – and it stands as a fair analogy for the experience of listening to this album, in that there’s an inescapable sense of the intangible, the unreachable.

The textures Beridze creates, and the way she contrasts them, are magnificent, making Guliagava an evocative, haunting album heavy with implicit meaning and resonance.

 

Natalie Beridze - Guligava

Natalie Beridze Online

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