Archive for March, 2017

House Of Mythology – 7th April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Patchy’ would be a reasonable assessment of Ulver’s work over recent years. While ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’ was the manifestation of a band pushing themselves experimentally, ‘Wars of the Roses’ was pretty toothless. Their collaboration with Sunn O))), on the other hand was a belter, but then, the extent to which the album’s success was down to the hooded doom colossi is not easy to measure. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with a band trying out something different – in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Few phrases are more irksome than ‘I know what I like, and I like what I know’, and bands who churn out the same predictable fare album after album, Quo style are simply careerists, not artists, and personally, I’m not interested. It all becomes wallpaper, aural chewing gum after a while.

But Ulver, a band who’ve evolved from their black metal origins to become a band synonymous with variety, perhaps suffer from a lack of self-awareness. Pursuing a different trajectory is fine, but it’s important to be able to assess whether or not it’s actually any cop.

And so it is that their pop album fails not on account of the fact that it’s a pop album, but on account of the fact it’s a second-rate pop album. It apes the slick production values of the mid to late 80s, and is dominated by bombastic but bland mid-tempo synthscapes. The choruses are ultimately forgettable and there really isn’t much to get a hold of, despite what the cover art seems to imply.

Modelled on A-Ha but without any nuts, filtered through the blandening contemporary reimagining of the 80s a la Bastille but minus the hooks, and with some sub-Depeche Mode stylings thrown into the mix, it all makes for a bollock-numbingly dull affair.

 

ulver-the-assassination-of-julius-caesar

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March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m not actually a fan of physical violence. The sight of blood – particularly my own – is enough to make me nauseous or even pass out, and I struggle with pain. And yet I’m also strangely, perversely drawn to violence. I consider the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom to be a comic masterwork. Why? Because violence at that level becomes absurd, as real as Tom and Jerry. It’s also perhaps important to distinguish art and life. So much brutal music and art is an outlet of the darker psychic states channelled by some of the mildest, sanest people you’re likely to meet. I haven’t met Tristan Shone so can’t vouch for his character, but his work under the Author and Punisher moniker is pretty brutal, and appeals precisely because of it.

The Pressure Mine EP, which finds Shone bring everything in-house to deliver five new tracks, all written, recorded, mixed and self-released by Shone himself balances brutality and beauty. What’s more, there’s a definite trajectory which runs over the course of the EP: something of a downward spiral, if you will, which sees each successive track prove darker, bleaker, heavier and more fucked-up than the one before. It may not be quite as gnarly and doomy s some of its predecessors, but that hardly makes this a stroll in the park and if anything, the absence of eardrum-shredding lasts of noise only accentuates the uncomfortable tension Author and Punisher is capable of creating.

First track ‘Enter This’ is a magnificent, mechanised droning industrial trudge, synths interlacing to forge a dark atmosphere over a battering mid-tempo rhythm. It’s all a backdrop to Shone’s vocals, which balance disconsolation and anguish. While reminiscent of Prettty Hate Machine Nine Inch Nails, it’s also rather more emotionally nuanced. ‘Pressure Lover’ lunges deeper into a woozy, nightmarish fugue, a dense, rumbling bassline and clanking percussion dominating.

‘New World’ warps and grinds, a dislocated discord emerging from the echoes and twisted vocals, and the last track, ‘Black Wand’ comes on like Depeche Mode on a cocktail of Ketamine and LSD. It’s not entirely pleasant, but it is unsettlingly awesome.

 

Author and Punisher - Pressure Mine

Power Trip’s new video for the single ‘Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)’ takes us front and centre, into the eye of what is guaranteed to be a perfect storm time and time again.

Debuted by Noisey and directed by their own Andy Capper, the video takes footage captured from a spirited hometown show in Dallas and melts it with what Noisey describe ‘clips of politically-ordered carnage, masked maniacs, and the orange smirk of American fascism.’  The imagery articulates Gale’s lyrics that hone in on the devaluation of human life by those who’ve gained power through money and politics.

Power Trip hit us hard last month with their most powerful effort yet – Nightmare Logic – available via Southern Lord.  Released to high critical acclaim and anticipation – their second release does not disappoint.  With hooks and tightness rivalling the likes of Metallica, Pantera or Pentagram, Power Trip punishes fans not only sonically but with pure songwriting skill. 

After a wild, sold out East Coast / Midwest US tour, the band set to takeover the West Coast US this month with Destruction Unit, before they head to Europe with Napalm Death and Brujeria. Check below for the dates.

Watch ‘Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)’ with tour dates listed below.

 

POWER TRIP JOIN ‘CAMPAIGN FOR MUSICAL DESTRUCTION TOUR’ WITH NAPALM DEATH & BRUJERIA

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 Copenhagen – Amager Bio, DK
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 Gothenburg – Pustervik, SWE
Thursday, 27 April 2017 Stockholm – Kraken STHLM, SWE
Friday, 28 April 2017 Flensburg – Roxy, DE
Saturday, 29 April 2017 Magdeburg – Factory, DE
Sunday, 30 April 2017 Haarlem – Patronaat, NL
Monday 1 May 2017 Koln – Underground, DE
Tuesday, 2 May 2017 Berlin – SO36, DE
Wednesday, 3 May 2017 DAY OFF
Thursday, 4 May 2017 Krakow – Kwadrat Club, PL
Friday, 5 May 2017 Brno – Klub Fléda, CZ
Sunday, 7 May 2017 Saarbrücken – Garage, DE
Monday, 8 May 2017 DAY OFF
Tuesday, 9 May 2017 Birmingham – O2 Institute, UK
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 Glasgow – Classic Grand, UK
Thursday, 11 May 2017 Manchester – Rebellion, UK
Friday, 12 May 2017 London – The Electric Ballroom, UK
Saturday, 13 May 2017 Paris – Le Glazart, FR
Sunday, 14 May 2017 Antwerpen – Zappa, BE
Monday, 15 May 2017 DAY OFF
Tuesday, 16 May 2017 Six Fours Les Plages – Espace André Malraux, FR
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 Geneva – L’Usine, CH
Thursday, 18 May 2017 Bologna – Zona Roveri, IT
Friday, 19 May 2017 Karlsruhe – NCO Club, DE
Saturday, 20 May 2017 München – Backstage, DE
Sunday, 21 May 2017 Eindhoven – Effenaar, NL

More dates to be announced…

Moon Sounds Records – 17th March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been almost two whole years since dreampop duo Lunar Twin released a remixed version of their debut EP ‘Champagne’. ‘Night Tides’ offers more mellow, drifting soundscapes over the course of six tracks, which finds supple, rolling synths wash around the grizzled vocals of Bryce Boudreau, which have heavy echoes of Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood.

If the wooden tones of the percussion which holds the first track, ‘Waves’ in places suggest Jools Holland world music smugness, the heavy patina of Boudreau’s blues tones bring a resonant, resinous counterpoint. ‘Coral Sea’ brings the glacial synths of New Order’s Movement and the coldwave aesthetic and pairs it with a shuffling, understated beat, and again it’s the contrast of the warm, well-worn Cohenesque croon which makes it stand apart from the myriad laid-back electro acts in circulation right now.

‘Birds of Paradise’ pivots on an undulating synthetic 80s disco groove, while ‘Prayers of Smoke’ introduces a more Krautrock element to its spacious, synthy, dub-tinged verses, before breaking into a straight, slow and low, late-night blues chorus.

The title track provides the finale, and despite the absence of beats, it’s a magnificently-realised summary of the EP as a whole: hunting, sparse, yet rich and resonant. Drifting swirls intertwine subtly to create a delicate atmosphere, while Boudreau’s voice drips like treacle. And darkly pleasurable it is, too.

 

Lunar Twin - Night Tides

Consouling Sounds – 28th April 2017

The follow-up to 2013’s You Stood Up for Victory, We Stood Up for Less sees the instrumental collective formed in 2011 expand in both number and vision. For his outing, founder and leader Richard Knox (The Rustle of the Stars, Shield Patterns, Glissando) is joined by a veritable host of collaborators: Aidan Baker (Nadja), Claire Brentnall (Shield Patterns), Angela Chan (Tomorrow We Sail. Lanterns on the Lake), Aaron Martin (F rom the Mouth of the Sun), David McLean (Gnod, Tombed Vision Records), Frédéric D. Oberland (The Rustle of the Stars, Oiseaux Tempête, FareWell Poetry, FOUDRE!), Owen Pegg (Hundred Year Old Man), Colin H. Van Eeckhout (Amenra, CHVE). And this is very much a collaborative work, which has resulted in an album which is rich in texture and tone, and marks a stylistic evolution from its predecessor. The album’s four extended, exploratory tracks are as expansive in sonic terms as they are in duration. While the drones and field recordings which characterise much of the output associated with Knox, The Gatherer incorporates myriad elements besides.

The first, ‘Colossus Survives’, gradually unfurls from a delicate, semi-nebulous sonic cloud drift into a wavering, teetering free jazz excursion, a saxophone being given a full tonal workout while in the distance, thick, deliberate beats crunch and rumble before everything drifts away to leave a ponderous piano.

‘Anodyne Nights for Somnabulent Strangers’ brings an altogether more ominous atmosphere, elongated drones scrape sonorously through a murky fog. But this, like the other pieces on The Gatherer, is a composition built on a continual shift. There are lighter notes, but they’re tinged with uncertainty and a sense of unease: indefinable, yet subliminally present. Slow and crawling as it is, the sound isn’t static for an instant, and the vicious argument which features around the twelve-minute mark is unsettling: the music is barely there, and not all of the words audible, and one feels as though one shouldn’t be overhearing it. But at the same time, you sit, ear cocked, to try to decipher what the shouting is about. It ends abruptly, and dolorous chimes ring out.

‘Jason Molina’s Blues’ approximates a deconstructed jazz over a slow, flickering rumble, and paves the way for the heavy, warping drone of ‘The Recapitulation’. Developing from a low, slow rumble and ominous echoes, saxophones and drones collide and intertwine to conjure a mystical sonic spot which exists between light and dark. A crashing beat echoes into infinity while Colin H. van Eeckhout delivers haunting, humming vocals: the words are barely audible but the effect borders on the spiritual as this voice hangs in a cavernous cave of reverb while strings drape themselves mournfully over the heavy air.

The Gatherer is by no means an easy or accessible album. But in its questing for new terrain, and its subtle sonic diversity, it’s an album which warrants time to embed.

 

Makiphon – 17th February 2017

James Wells

Not an argument. Not a line of anything. Row is the sound of people rowing. It may make for a more interesting work if it was the sound of a couple bawling one another out, trading insults and chucking furniture. The creak of the oars in the rowlocks create a grinding, monotonous rhythm. Everything else is noise.

Voices. Dutch voices. The scoosh of oars cutting through the surface, the drag and pull, the rumbling splash. The rhythmic calls of the cox, the repetitions of ‘c’mon’ and hurgh!’ all blend to create an insistent, semi-industrial throb. ‘Row Out’ calls to mind, oddly, the backing to TG’s ‘What a Day’, the dense, clumping beat and thick, grating groan.

‘Row In’, unsurprisingly, brings more of the same, and not even in reverse.

Andreas O. Hirsch – Row

Much as we love our grumbling, gnarly, noisy stuff, we do like a bit of dreamy electro-tingd pop for a spot of escapism. It’s good for the blood pressure, and good for the soul. Besides, we’re also committed to giving exposure to acts who you’re unlikely to find splattered all over every other music site or mass-market glossy, and while on the strength of this, their debut single, Leeds’ Dream Estate have the potential to achieve the kind of heights enjoyed by Bastille, the unjust world in which we live mean the chances are slim.

So, get your lugs round ‘Half the World Away’, and remember, if they do go huge, you heard them here first: