Archive for June, 2016

Influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac, Electric Pyramid are an international bands of artists – Linda and Marco both from Italy, Emma from the UK and Oli is English “with a twist”. They all live around the corner from each other, and  began rehearsing together on Oli’s boat after they recognised the potential for collaboration. Now, they’ve become each other’s family. “If your family’s far away, then the people you’re surrounded with, spend most of your time with, they know everything about you.” As a group they have a varied musical history, and Linda is also an active figure on the ‘Girls Rock’’ scene in London and elsewhere.

Their debut single, ‘1989’ is a drawling psych-hued effort, and is out now via Transistor Project. You can hear it here:

 

With the release of her debut single "IDK How" the Russian artist angelic milk quickly became one of the most talked about new acts around, instantly drawing praise from the likes of Stereogum, Consequence of Sound, NME and KEXP. Now she’s back with the video for new single "Rebel Black", a catchy-as-fuck statement of intent and a first taste from her upcoming debut EP. The EP is titled Teenage Movie Soundtrack and it’s due on 15th July via PNKSLM Recordings.

Her debut single “IDK How” was released in May last year along with a Grimes-y remix from fellow Saint Petersburger BLAST, and after making her international debut show in Stockholm later in the summer she started working on what was to become her debut EP Teenage Movie Soundtrack. Recorded in Stockholm in the famed Apmamman Studio and produced by Luke Reilly, it’s a showcase both of Persephona’s immense talent as a songwriter and a vocalist, as well as her range. Four tracks of expertly crafted grunge pop ranging from the sweet romance of "Rebel Black" to the grunge-punk strut of "Ripped Jeans", Teenage Movie Soundtrack is cementing angelic milk as one of the most exciting new artists around.

But enough text: here’s a tune, which appeals to our poppier sensibilities.

Tavern Eightieth – TVEI23 – 28th March 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Given the fact that this release contains pieces based primarily around delicate solo piano work, there’s a curious bluntness and odd directness about the title that stirred a discomfort on first contact with Euan McMeeken’s latest project. The phrase ‘Love, if you love me, lie beside me now’ has a kind of domineering tone, with hints of emotional blackmail. It’s needy, but with controlling undercurrents. But then, such lines, particularly with the doubling of the word ‘love’, also has echoes of Elizabethan poetry.

None of this is conveyed in the six compositions here, at least on the surface. ‘No One Can Reach Us Now or Ever’ is an elegant piano piece, although there are atmospheric rumblings in the distance. In combination, they contrive to form an emotional ambivalence: the possibility that this could be an uplifting dream of safety and security is equalled by the bittersweet elegy framed in the knowledge that the only safe place is not on this earth. Perhaps it’s another subtle tendril of control, the same need to cling manifesting as separation from the world, enforced isolation. Perhaps not. Perhaps McMeeken’s compositions are intended as blank walls on which the listener’s thoughts and reactions can be projected, mapped, explored. Perhaps Ali Millar’s short prose piece provides the direction in its melancholy-hued narrative. More than anything, it’s not what is said over the course of the six tracks, but what is unsaid and what lies beneath the surface.

The pieces, although not designed to follow any overarching theme, do flow into one another very naturally, and the tone changes progressively between the beginning and the end. Sadness creeps into ‘Seen Through a Doorway’, and the notes waver and flicker in and out on ‘Under the Arc of the Sky’, and hang in a thick air, intimating hesitation, uncertainty. Strings enter at the midpoint of the final track, ‘There is Nothing Yet I am Here’, spreading an uplifting mood and a sense of optimism. And yes, perhaps there is hope. Perhaps this album s best appreciated when not searching for the meaning. Sometimes, some things simply are, and this is a magnificent, thoughtful musical work.

 

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Leeds-based purveyors of darkly psychedelic country, Fighting Caravans, follow up on the promise of their Beasts of England EP and a string of intense live shows with the release of the single  ‘Blue Heart Motel’  on 1st July. Released on 7” vinyl and digital formats, it’s accompanied by a suitably twisted promo video, which you can watch here – and we recommend you do.

 

 

Fighting Caravans on Bandcamp

Ikarus Records  – 17th June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Growing up with musical tastes different from my friend and peers, I found a certain sense of freedom. It wasn’t that I cared more about music than friendships, although maybe that was sometimes the case: music off the beaten track offered something more relatable and opened my eyes – and ears – to new possibilities and ideas. Doing my own thing and finding my own music enabled me to appreciate and celebrate difference. Conformity is so dull. Following trends is mindless.

This eponymous release from Lord Kesseli and the Drums dos not confirm, it does not follow trends, and is strangely out of sync with everything that’s going on not only in the mainstream, but in most other musical circles right now. That’s due in no small part to its stylistic diversity. Dominik Kesseli described as “slowed down electronic club music, or in other words synthetic Science Fiction sound worlds with analogue raging textures.” And I suppose there is that. In collaboration with drummer and producer Michael Gallusser, Kisseli has certainly concocted something rather out of the ordinary.

The first track, ‘Arnold’ is kinda post-rock, but isn’t really completely overtly explicitly post-rock, in that it has dream-pop leanings too, and veers into expansive electro-prog territory – and after the best part of six minutes, I’m not entirely sure why we’re still waiting for Arnold.

‘Siri’ makes nods to Krautrock as it slides into 80s synth pop territory, but maintains a dark undercurrent – as indeed, did much of the music of the day: artists ranging from A-Ha to A Flock of Seagulls via Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones weren’t nearly as jaunty as all that. And it has a bloody great crescendo by way or a climactic finish.

‘Fade’ is a lugubrious monster, half post-punk, half shoegaze, and it bleeds into the skewed gothic country of ‘PureEmotion’. The nine-minute closer, ‘Kid’ is a behemoth of a track which builds – and builds – to a monumental crescendo of phenomena proportions being carried way in its dying seconds on a resonating piano note that glides into the quiet distance.

Because it’s so wide-ranging, one could wonder precisely who the band and album’s audience is. But cliché as it is, any act who make music for themselves first and foremost is on the right track – or at the very least, they’re doing it for the right reason. Musicians should, of course, be fairly paid for their toils, but as Lydia Lunch recently argued, if it’s for money, it’s not art, it’s commerce. If there’s any justice, Lord Kesseli and the Drums will find a broad and substantial audience. But ultimately what matters is that they have produced a distinctive record of quality: a work of art.

 

 

Lord Kesseli Cover Art

 

Lord Kesseli and the Drums Online

Jess Robinson

So, Camden Rocks was good this year wasn’t it?! After almost thirteen hours on my feet, I have blistered soles, a tight back, and by the Goddess I swear my eye-bags could double up as a freakin’ Deliveroo tandem. Totally worth it though.

My musical day-trip started with The Kut at The Crowndale at noon, I feel like I should describe them as shouty and feisty and grrrr, but they really weren’t. In the best way, they were actually genuinely lovely. Personable, proficient, and clearly over the freakin’ moon to be able to play two extra tracks as part of the soundcheck – a soundcheck so damned good it swelled the crowd from a piddly eight people (understandable, given the time of day) to something nearer 50. The Crowndale itself felt something like an abandoned funeral parlour, complete with huge floral tribute on the corner of the bar, but sonically it worked nicely, and it was great to see that the bar staff (definitely not undertakers) were enjoying the music, taking phone pictures of the band at work.

The Kut’s songs are a mix of punky-punkrock-grunge-rock. Yeah that’s a mishmash, but it’s a good one, tunes are raw, unpolished yet without flaws. The punkier elemns of ‘I Don’t Need Therapy’ fed brilliantly into ‘Bad Man’, a track that’s a sublime blend of everything I loved about both Nirvana and Hole – the guitars and sneering Cobainesque vocals work so well with the Courtney Love based lyrics. Vocalist Maha was determined to get us dancing, kicking up the beat with ‘Hollywood Rock ‘n Roll’. Bouncy! Great fun.

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The Kut

My next mission was to find my way into Dingwalls (having basically formed an infinity symbol in footsteps the previous day I decided to start my mission afresh on Saturday). Surely with the music in full flow, and with festival punters making their way into the venue, it wouldn’t be hard to work it out… oh how wrong I was. See, the name “Dingwalls” is marked out in an arc above the doors on the canal-side. So you walk down there, aaaand the doors are locked. You continue alongside the building, drawn to the music audible at the far end. You see the band through the windows, but you can’t get in. You walk around the building, nope, still no doors evident, unless you fancy trying to barge into the back area of the stage mid-set. No. Walk up to Lock 17 (directly above Dingwalls), where there are stairs pointing down to ‘Club’ (i.e. Dingwalls). Lovely bar staff explain we’re not supposed to go down there, and to use the door outside. I remained confused, all the doors are locked! So I take my chances and go down the forbidden stairs… Lovely security guy (who later explained that the name wouldn’t be above the door any more, if only they could physically remove the lettering) told me how to – correctly – enter the venue. So off I trot, to find that the letters above that magical entranceway in actual fact proclaim “The Comedy Loft”. Of course! I mean, it’s so obvious when you think about it….

Once I made it inside Dingwalls, I discovered two stages, and I managed to catch the end of Heels’ set on the larger of the two – thrashy, shouty, femme-fronted, male-backed metal, are Heels. Not really my taste, but they seemed to be on form. When they finished I nipped to the ladies, and it was like that cringey moment in that IT Crowd episode, the one where Roy and Moss crash Jen’s theatre ‘date’ with the gay man, go to the gents during the interval and there’s a toilet attendant man there, who puts them off their stride so badly that they can’t even piss yet they each pay him a tip anyway. Yeh? This.was.worse. The lady, surrounded by myriad bottles of dubious looking perfume, bellows a cheerful “Hello!!” to me and the grrls following behind, so I say “Hi”, but evidently I’m too quiet, for as I my feet carry me to a toilet cubicle while my mind screams “no, run away, remember the IT Crowd episode!!” she glares right at me and booms “When a lady says ‘hello’, you say ‘hello’ back!”. That’s me told then. Except I did say ‘Hi’… does that not count? Does it have to be ‘Hello’? Please don’t hurt me/hate me toilet attendant lady….

I escaped Dingwalls, and after a chippy lunch on the hoof, I landed at The Cuban for the first of Ginger’s three sets. Expecting it to be busy, I got there early but it was still rammed. And I mean rammed. Somehow I tagged on to a quad of hardcore fans and wound my way between jam-packed bodies, following them as far as the sound desk. My view of the stage… was non-existent. Bugger. What to do? Well, I decided to make the best of it and just listen. It was still live music, right?! I was in the building, woohaaaaa! Then… HERO…! the guy doing the lighting took pity on me and let me stand on the bench behind him. Well, I am tiny, so thankfully I don’t take up much room! In return, I fanned him now and again with a Camden Rocks Fest postcard. Oh yes, things were going well.

Ginger and his guys had a few technical difficulties at first, something up with a guitar… It was cool though, he bantered his way through it jovially (no prima-donna stropping) and refused to cut the set short because of the delay. Bet that pleased the organisers… We were melting but we all clapped in time and ‘oooooh’d’ (off key) when Ginger asked us to ‘ooooooh’. “That was definitely the best sing along I’ve ever heard. Not technically brilliant…” ~cheeky grin and wink~ “…for sure, but definitely the best” The highlight had to be ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’, of course it was. We all loved it.

Peckham Cowboys followed. They were rockin’, like, well, like cowboys who double up as a rock band. A solid performance, much enjoyed by the remaining crowd.

So then. Onwards. To The Underworld. To Heck. Umm, intense doesn’t quite cut it as a description… It was intense, it was also insane, and it was utterly perfect. Invigorating and terrifying almost alternately, Heck are fuckin nuts, man. Perfect choice of venue, kudos to whoever placed Heck there. It was dark, it was cavelike, it was deliciously claustrophobia-inducing WALL-TO-WALL NOISE AND CHAOS. I’m glad I’d been forewarned of likely antics. Although there was no escape (guitarist stomped on my foot at one point, singer plonked his mic stand down right in front of me, proceeding to sing and play guitar whilst deluged by photographers), I did select a location where I was largely safe. Basically, if you don’t wanna be involved, don’t go see Heck live. Stay at home, listen to the records, watch them on YouTube to see what you’re missing. But naaah, you should probably go anyway, at least once; absorb the wonderful screaming vitality of them.

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Heck

I was so spaced after Heck, I decided to abandon my plan of Vukovi at the Bloc Bar (I know, I know, I’m slightly ashamed!) – I just needed a little time, outside, getting some air, resting my beaten senses!

Popped back up to The Cuban where Starsha Lee gave strong rock vibes; blasting guitars and sci-fi tinged cartoony vocals, boy they were good and crazy. Crazy good. I overheard someone say “I liked the music, but I just couldn’t get on board with that voice…”. Slightly harsh, but each to their own!

Deadcuts was the last band I saw at The Cuban, gothy layers mixed with New Wave. A little Joy Division-y with their music. None of that is my bag, but Deadcuts were clearly on their game and crowd pleasers nonetheless.

A return to Dingwalls, for LA act Queen Kwong. I absolutely love these guys, and the fact that the overall lineup switches around and morphs between tours does nothing to diminish the power and sheer brilliance their songs, I urge you to see them next time they are in your area. Tonight’s set was marred only slightly by the dim lighting, which I suspect was set at low level on instruction from Carré herself, but it did mean that she couldn’t be seen too well, and I think sadly, those that didn’t already know the music struggled to engage with the show. Having said that, for those of us familiar with the luminosity of tracks like ‘Cold Daggers’, ‘Bells On’, and ‘Purrfiction’, it was awesome.

I’ll admit I was flagging when I left Dingwalls, and, knowing I likely wouldn’t physically be able to see (yep; the short-arse problem again!) much of Black Spiders at Proud, I rejected all headliners and made my way to Camden’s Cavern at Belushi’s bar, where I stayed the rest of the night. To be honest, at a festival where there are over 200 acts to choose from, why stand crushed seeing two or three bands that you could see on numerous tours, when you could find something fresh and exciting, up close in a smaller venue?

What’d you seeeee!?! I hear you cry, ha, well, let’s think back… I just about missed Wars but caught Making Monsters (hooks and riffs, baby, hooks and riffs), As December Falls (polished and young), and lastly Seán Grant & The Wolfgang who made their way to the stage area for a midnight display. And wow! They were so worth waiting for. Seán and his (wolf)gang served up a full-on juicy slab of a set that included ‘Curtains’, ‘Best Of Men’, ‘Brother’ (dedicated to one overjoyed pal in the crowd), and the most excellent ‘Take A Man’s Body’. Meaty, pounding, brilliantly executed music combined with gorgeously bittersweet lyrics that draw.you.in! A superb end to my Camden Rocks experience.

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Seán Grant & The Wolfgang

Huge, huge thanks to all those that brought the music and the vibe, and to those that kept us safe and happy, right down to the not-so-scary-really, toilet attendant lady.

Artemisia Records – 17th June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Wolves In The Throne Room have achieved that rare thing of achieving a substantial fan-base and widespread recognition, while retaining the ultimate cult status. They’re genuinely seminal, having reinvented and reinvigorated black metal, largely on account of the imagination they’ve displayed in their approach to the genre’s well-established tropes. Diadem of 12 Stars was their debut album, released in 2006 , and even now, it’s in a different league from the majority of the black metal being churned out in 2016.

Wolves in the Throne Room have always been about expanding the horizons of the black metal genre, and making music on their own terms, and their devastating debut clearly sets the co-ordinates for a monstrous musical adventure.

Originally released on a small DIY label and unavailable physically for many years, this reissued version has been carefully remastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service. The band redeveloped every photograph from the original negatives, creating richer, high quality prints in order to present the artwork as originally envisioned. In short, there’ much to get excited about. This is an album that deserves to be appreciated as conceived and envisaged.

The tale around its conception and evolution is one worth retelling, because the context matters. To save some typing I shall quote from het press blurb: ‘Written almost exclusively in a windowless, black room over the long dark nights of Winter 2005, Diadem Of 12 Stars was the first official Wolves In the Throne Room release and built around the reimagining of black metal as an ode to rain storms, wood smoke and the wild energies of the Pacific Northwest… Diadem Of 12 Stars is about lunar sorcery on Cascadian mountaintops and encounters with wild spirits. In contrast to the icy, razor sharp soundscapes of their 90s Norwegian forebears, the sound of Diadem is lush and ethereal, dripping with rain soaked moss and lichen.’

Indeed, what really stands out is just how textured and varied the songs are. It’s blistering blinding in its intensity. It shows all the hallmarks of classic black metal, in particular the dominance of the dense wall of noise guitar and the ruined, demonic vocals. But there are passages of exquisite beauty alongside the raging torment. The first track, ‘Queen of Borrowed Light’ is by no means a post-rock track, but detours into magnificent and luscious instrumental passages which are almost the very definition of post-rock. Weaving between different moods and exploring both an emotional and sonic range, it’s an intriguingly

Multi-faceted composition which immediately set Wolves in the Throne Room apart from their peers.

The opening segment of ‘Face in a Night Time Mirror Part I’ is remarkably accessible, almost a conventional rock composition, which feeds into a delicate acoustic passage, before, of course, all hell breaks loose in an earth-shattering tumult of ferocious angst. This is exactly as it should be.

‘Face in a Night Time Mirror Part II’ dredges the silt beds of the bowels of hell for an excruciatingly heavy fourteen minutes. It’s black and it’s metal: it’s the sound of purgatory, distilled and amplified.

The last of the four tracks, he twenty-minute ‘(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars’ is beyond immense: it’s not simply a matter of length, and I’ll refrain from making any puerile gags about girth etc. for a change. Instead, shut up and listen and let your jaw hang as it transitions from expansive prog rock to snarling, speaker-annihilating metal of the blackest shade. The shock and awe is, again, less about the album’s extremity but its range. It’s an outstanding and incredible album, and the passage of a decade has done nothing to dull the fact. And this more than justifies revisiting it now.

 

Wolves in the Throne Room  - Diadem

 

Wolves in the Thrown Room Online

Christopher Nosnibor

The phenomenally prolific Ashley Reaks – musician and collage artist with a left-leaning anarchic streak – follows up Cultural Thrift (September 2015, with Joe Hakim) and Compassion Fatigue (February 2015) with what you might rightly call a concept album. True, the aforementioned releases from 2015 were both marked by thematic unity, but this approaches things from a different angle, with each song being about a different serial killer.

That serial killers inspire a certain morbid fascination cross many sectors of society requires little qualification: the popularity of both real-life crime and fictional crime TV and literature speaks for itself. Serial killers are, in truth, extremely rare.

The industrial scene’s fascination with serial killers feeds into the broader picture of a fascination with inhuman perversions and brutality of every shade: Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Very Friendly’ is anything but, and Whitehouse’ early career was largely based on an obsession with sadism and serial killers, notably Peter Kurten and Dennis Andrew Nilsen, to whom their fourth and eighth albums respectively were dedicated to; but then there were also tracks like ‘Dedicated to Albert de Salvo’ and ‘Ripper Territory’ (that’s the Yorkshire ripper, Peter Sutcliffe), and ‘Fritz Haarmann’.

Ashley Reaks is no purveyor of industrial noise or one to employ base shock tactics. His weirdly psychotic collages are shocking enough, while the music on his latest album presents his now-trademark multicultural mash, with a heavy leaning toward anarchic dub reggae and post-punk. And in terms of his subjects, he’s shown a lot more imagination than most, drawing inspiration from an array of lesser-known killers. Should we be impressed by his research or concerned by his dedicated research? Probably, yes.

There’s no mistaking the fact Reaks is a complex character and an intriguing, multi-faceted artist, and as much as the album’s title caries an element of humour, it may equally carry more than a grain of autobiographical truth. Suffice it to say more troubled individuals of no artistic bent commit suicide than become murders. And Reaks’ interrogations of socio-political situations seems to be the primary motivation here. Curiosity, rather than glorification is what this is all about. And it’s a great album.

Over shuddering, throbbing dub basslines and some fairly easy-going grooves, Reaks explores the backgrounds and circumstances of a range of men – all men – convicted of heinous crimes, more often than not with a sexual element.

Amongst them, James Gregory Marlow, aka The Folsom Wolf – a white supremacist drug user with a body count five in a spree which ran from July to November 1986, and Robert Black, aka Smelly Bobby Tulip, a Scottish serial killer and paedophile convicted of the kidnap, rape, sexual assault and murder of four girls aged between 5 and 11 in a series of killings committed between 1981 and 1986, and suspected of 12 other unsolved child murders committed between 1969 and 1987. The album by no means glorifies any of its subjects, and instead serves as a narrative exploration.

The blurbage points out that the album features the improvised Eastern-tinged vocalizations of Norway’s Maria Jardardottir, prog-punk polyrhythms, as well as a guest solo from Jackson 5 and Commodores trombonist Frank Mizen. This is significant, not because of the namedropping it facilitates, but because of the artistic connections it highlights: Reaks has enlisted some admirable artists here, and the end result is quirky but accessible. Indeed, the sonic vibes stand at extreme odds with the dark and disturbing subject matter of the songs. But this is precisely how Reaks excels artistically. Balancing darkness and light, concept and execution, he leads the way through a warped alternative world of his psychic creation.

 

 

 

Ashley Reaks - Serial Killer

Trace Recordings – 8th July 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s virtually impossible to hear or read the word ‘Rothko’ without thinking of the abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko – at least if you have any kind of cultural awareness. And if you didn’t immediately consider Mark Rothko on arriving here, then either kindly leave, or settle in for an education of sorts. I’d hate to be accused of elitism here, but equally, I anguish on a daily basis over the mass cultural ignorance of our supposedly educated society. Having not been taught something in school or the fact something predates one’s existence is no excuse since the advent of the Internet. ‘I don’t know any Beatles songs – they’re before my time,’ is something I hear depressingly often. They’re before my time, too, and growing up in the 80s and 90s there was no Google. Perversely, the same people who are clueless of their artistic cultural heritage know all about Star Wars and Scooby Doo and Marvel heroes created well before their time. These people are buying into nostalgia kitsch of years which predate their existence. But the chances are that while they’ll happily buy into marketed nostalgia, they won’ grasp real nostalgia or real history.

This, of course, is where the latest offering from guitar / bass duo consisting of Mark Beazley and Michael Donnelley comes in. Discover the Lost is an album out of time, and in many ways bereft of context. And yet, it’s important to orientate oneself in time and space before engaging with this album.

The black and white cover art is the very definition of nostalgia. It intimates the passage of time, the gradual decline of things made. The grass growing tall around the abandoned, rusted car is a representation of abandonment. Time moves on. The man-made world slowly degrades and is taken back by nature, But, during the process, the natural world is sullied by these once valued but now ugly, unwanted items, stains haunting the landscape with echoes of the past. But it’s important to distinguish between the kind of ersatz nostalgia of the mass-market, whereby the Rubik’s Cube and bigger Monster Munch are the focus of a widespread collective reminiscent sigh, and the kind of personal nostalgia which is altogether more difficult to communicate let alone package. Discover the Lost sees Rothko look beyond the consensus market-led strand of nostalgia and tap the vein of the latter in a work that’s evocative and intensely personal to the listener.

There is a grainy warmth to the instrumentation on the album’s ten tracks. The album’s intent may be upbeat, but the reflective atmospherics style of Rothkos’s music is thick with reflection, regret and missing. The analogue tonality of the guitar evokes through sound the sense of something old, worn to a deep patina by people long gone and forgotten. The music is slow, deliberate, haunting, the notes drifting into the air, carried on the echoes of empty rooms, as still as a tomb.

‘Thoughts for Tomorrow’ calls to mind the epic instrumental introduction to Her Name Is Calla’s ‘Condor and River’, but it would be erroneous to describe it as post-rock. It is, however, an evocative and subtly moving piece that resonates, and while the title suggests a forward-facing perspective, it’s nevertheless laced with melancholic retrospection. Strings sigh forlornly over ’Photographs of Then’. Of course, a photograph can only ever show the past, however recent, and often, the image only gains its full meaning or sense of place over time. Context reconfigures with hindsight. Nothing is fully fixed

The dark ambient drone of ‘Time that You Took’ marks a shift in tone. Upbeat it is not. A sinister bass prowls around ‘Truths and Signs’, before the closing couplet of ‘Way to Home’ and ‘You’ offer the light of hope.

The sequencing of Discover the Lost is integral to the listening experience: the tracks stand alone individually, but it’s only listening to them each in sequence that the full effect of the album really emerge. This is the beauty of Discover the Lost: it’s not about immediacy but a slow unfolding and realisation, the emerging discovery.

 

Rothko

Karisma Records – 3rd June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

When an album contains only six tracks, and is housed in over art like this, there’s a certain degree of indication of what one may reasonable expectancy. Memento Collider fulfils some of those expectations, but confounds just as many. For a start, it isn’t a drone / doom / metal album, although it is heavy and it is dark. And the tracks are on the long side.

Sure enough, the album’s ten-minute opener is a tense, dark and expansive affair, built around an interlooping bassline and uncomfortable, – guitars that bounce contra to said bassline to build an uncomfortable dissonance. It’s heavily steeped in the post punk / proto-goth tradition in the vein of acts like The Danse Society circa 1983, the flat yet portentous, nihilistic vocal delivery only accentuating the awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere, a sonic dystopia.

‘Rogue Fossil’ again works a groove centred around looped motifs, a hectic, nagging bas coupled with urgent, stuttering jazz drumming hammers insistently while the guitar clangs and chimes at obtuse angles against its claustrophobic shell. The theatrical enunciation of the lyrics, in particular the hook (i.e. the song title), which accentuates the ‘i’ in ‘fossil’ adds a peculiar, alien slant to the track’s angular discordance.

‘Dripping Into Orbit’ melds together theatrical goth-tinged art rock and hectic, angular math rock to forge a bleak and uncomfortable sonic space. The rolling tempo changes re disorientating, accelerating and decelerating bar by bar in a fashion that evokes the spirit and sound of Shellac.

As the album progresses, it becomes increasingly locked into an inward-facing mesh of difficulty, an aura charting increasing stress and crackling cognitive disorder. The effect is cumulative, but each song brings with it new layers of dis-ease.

Listening to the jarring post-punk of ‘Gravity Seeker’, the track which features the album’s title buried in its lyrics as guitars trip and trail all over a lugubrious and repetitive groove, I find myself being sucked into a vortex of bleakness and begin to wonder just what kind of hell the and members have endured to produce music this unflinchingly bleak. The recording sessions for Memento Collider can hardly have been a laugh a minute. But perhaps it was a lot more fun than the music suggests: it’s a mistake to conflate the art with the artist, and equally, catharsis can often be the means by which mental equilibrium can be maintained. Its’s healthy to channel all of the ark stuff the weird stuff and the negativity into something creative – and this is indeed dark and weird.

The final track, ‘Phantom Oil Slick’ spans a full nine minutes and fills it with jangling guitars which bounce every which way over a bass that surges and swells before it breaks in a tidal frenzy. It’s dark, intense, and borderline psychotic in every aspect. A collision indeed. Strap in and go for it.

 

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