Archive for May, 2017

Svart Records – 2nd June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Depending on your perspective, drone metal masters Gravetemple are either a(nother) Sunn O))) offshoot, or a supergroup. Comprising Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley and Attila Csihar, the trio have many interconnecting threads, and s Gravetemple, they create something quite different – and arguably more overtly ‘metal’ than any of their other projects.

According to the press release, ‘on Impassable Fears, Gravetemple have refined and diversified their nuanced form of all-consuming, abstract death metal inspired heaviness. The essence of their other-worldly vocal exhortations, the maelstrom of frenetic beats and heavy guitar sounds are ever-present, as is the sheer power of their delivery. Yet Impassable Fears is far from unrelenting, there’s shifting dynamics, revealing an abundance of unexplored sonic detail, across all intersections, deftly balancing minimalist and maximalist sounds with finesse.’

It’s true: there is considerable range in texture and tone, and Impassable Fears is not an hour-long solid wall of excruciating noise. But there is a lot of excruciating noise and punishing volume, and the sonic density of the songs as they’re recorded is optimal for the most part.

Opener ‘Szarka’ begins by melding a strolling, subterranean bassline and blustering beat to a shattering guitar which very quickly goes sludgy, and from thereon rapidly descends into guttural brutality. Shrieking demons flee in terror at the depth of the darkness conjured by the thick, blacker than black guitar noise. Crackling distortion and scraping feedback grate against a rumbling percussive attack on the ten-minute ‘Elavúlt Földbolygó (which translates as ‘World out of Date’). A twisted mess of psychedelic metal dragged from the bowels of the earth, it builds relentlessly, growing ever louder, ever more frantic, and ever more dense over the duration.

The experimental and atmospheric ‘Domino’ offers respite, exploring a throbbing electronic ambient vein to disorientating and unsettling effect, and segues into ‘Áthatolhatatlan Félelmek’, which pulls back on the full-on aural attack, at least during the first minute or so. The track instead proffers forth a sparser, but ultimately more sinister, more subtly atmospheric vision of hell. But eventually, the rolling thunder breaks out, demonic drumming drives a searing scourge of molten guitars and a droning bass that’s so low and so thick it realigns every last inch of the intestinal tract – and then continues to twist malevolent for what feels like a most uncomfortable eternity.

The tranquility of the haunting drift that is ‘Az Örök Végtelen Üresség,’ which closes the album is welcome, but there are darker undercurrents which run through. The final notes are crashing chimes which echo into silence, leaving more of a hanging question mark rather than a resolution or serving the listener with a sense of closure and relief.

 

Gravetemple artwork (by Denis Forkas Kostromitin

Sub Rosa – 6th March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Hey, I’m a sucker for any band who mixes rock, new wave, psyche, kraut, experimental and repetitive music. Consequently, I was sold on the pitch or Babils’ fourth album even before I’d slipped the disc into the player. Reduced to a five-piece following the passing of co-founder Michel Duyuck in November 2014, Ji Ameeto represents the first release of the Brussels-based collective without Duyuck.

The album contains just two tracks, each around the sixteen-and-a-half minute mark. The title track is one of those swirling psych-hued expanses which find layer upon layer of sound emerge, converge and diverge at an infinite array of angles. And all the while, the rhythm section keep on plugging away, thumping out a hypnotic, motoric beat and locked-in bass groove. If my opening sentence reads sarcastically or as being somehow facetious, that’s only partly the case. There is something about long songs that go on and on and on that I find hard to resist. Perhaps it’s an extension of Henri Bergson’s theories on comedy, whereby he suggested that repetition was a key facet of successful comedy, to music that render such heavily repetitious grooves so compelling. Or perhaps it’s the fact there are effectively two songs going on here: the unstinting, relentless rhythm section which hammers on down an unswerving path, countered by everything else, not so much a hotchpotch of incidentals but a succession of fragments and slivers of songs overlaid in top of said rhythm section.

‘C’est la raison pour laquelle nous ne cesserons jamais de recommencer’ throws together a spaced out baggy bassline and shoegaze guitars – and production values – with dark, gothic overtones. Honking horns bleat wildly at incidental junctures, while spiralling guitar breaks rupture from the vast foggy vistas conjured from the swirling sonic depths. At times a cross between The Cure’s Carnage Visors and early Ride, but at the same time altogether more immersive and ‘druggy’ sounding, it’s a disorientating composition which not only celebrates but positively hinges on the contrast between the dissonance and weirdness of the lead lines, and the consistent solidity of the bass and drums as they drive onwards towards the horizon, holding down the same grove for an eternity and more.

 

Babils

It’s not so very often we get to shout about great bands doing work for essential causes we really believe in. It would be easy to be flippant and blame Bono and his ilk and the Comic Relief etc., crowd for the bad rep charity recods often have, but the fact is that the current focus on mental health has been a very long time in coming. For Three Minute Heroes, Warren Youth Project Initiative have taken a different kind of approach, and, with some great bands (a fair few previously endorsed by AA), have asembled an album of impressive quality.

Three Minute Heroes is a Warren Youth Project Initiative integrating Music and Mental Health.  Based in Hull, the Warren have taken successful musicians and connected them with school children from Hull and the East Yorkshire area as a way for the children to express their feelings through the lyrics and music.

15 artists including bands supported by BBC DJs Huw Stephens, Steve Lamacq and Radio X‘s John Kennedy have taken the childrens’ lyrics & turned them into a thought-provoking album: Three Minute Heroes: #HearMeOut.  

Hear and buy the album here:

 

Three Minute Heroes

Oracle Rouge – 28th April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

French cyberpunk / dark-wave project Fixions are, they say, influenced by ‘classic movies such as Blade Runner, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, the extreme metal scene from the 90s, Amiga video games, Fixions evolves in a style mixing dark and surrealistic elements, bombastic, powerful production, and a solid 80/90s dystopic science-fiction aura.’ With this, their fourth album, they threaten ‘the most extreme and deep release they ever produced’ in the form of ‘a concept album inspired by classic cyberpunk fiction tales, where every track depicts one of the thousand dangers the “Edgerunners” will encounter when visiting the city at night [and] sees Fixions merging futuristic urban ambiances with dark epic elements and heavy, abrasive sounds’.

While the concept might not be rendered entirely explicit through the album’s 16 instrumental tracks, but themes emerge both from the audio content and the titles (not to mention the cover art) applied to the compositions: ‘Crimeware’; ‘Terrorwave’; ‘Black Chrome Riot’ all contrive to summarise the intent of Genocity, which to all intents and purposes does come across as a sort of reimagining of Neuromancer in audio form.

Jittery, skittery, interloping lead lines weave their way over thumping basslines that wow and drag, melded to stomping, insistent, industrial-strength disco beats. It’s all about the imposing soundscapes and minor chords, the tension and the relentlessly restive digital flittering. There are grooves aplenty – hard, driving eurodisco grooves packed back to back, interspersed with more contemplative Kraftwerk-inspired tracks.

Does it sound futuristic? Not really. The ‘80/90s dystopic science-fiction aura’ is all-encompassing. The sonic elements are all tried and tested, well-worn tropes which evoke the spirit of ‘the future’ as it looked in those line-green neon-hued imaginings from the 1980s. As such, it’s possible – and indeed hard to resist – viewing Genocity as a sort of nostalgia piece, in which the time and space being yearned for is a golden age in which the future – a future which ultimately failed to become the reality in the present in which we now find ourselves – offered exciting and near-infinite potentials. Perhaps the realisation of that failure is the thread which ties the fictional technological dystopias of the 80s and 90s to the bleak cyberreality of the Internet and the digital age as we now experience it. At least the dystopian digital futures depicted in fiction were, and are, just that – fiction. Artificial Intelligence and automation, a reality in which everyone carries a computer which pinpoints their precise location 24/7 have not given us more leisure time, or more freedom, but has instead overtaken and occupied every inch of everyone’s lives and resulted in the erosion of freedoms at a pace which perhaps even outstrips the technological advances themselves.

When faced with incalculable progress and its effects on the psyche, it’s only natural to regress to safe times. There is, beneath the tension and amidst the dark currents which flow through Genocity, a certain sense of a regressive channelling. And so while it may not be the sound of the future, it does provide a perfectly serviceable recreation of futures past.

fixions_genocity

Nakama Records – 27th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

You think of the human voice and you’ll probably immediately cast your mind to speech and singing. But the extremity of the range of the human voice is truly remarkable, and extends far, far beyond these limited parameters. Index sees Oslo-based Agnes Hvizdalek explore, over the course of forty-seven minutes – mastered as a single track – the potentials and possibilities of her vocal cords. The CD’s packaging offers nothing but a fingerprint by way of an explanation, but thankfully, the accompanying press release assists with the provision of context and framing the ‘pure vocal sounds that oscillate between fragility and levity, in the most well-shaped musical manner’ by explaining the way in which they’re ‘interwoven with, and set in contrast to the buzz of the city sounds and the building acoustics’. That city buzz is São Paulo, and the album was recorded at the bottom of a 60-metre-high chimney at the old factory “Casa das Caldeiras” in the heart of the city with the world’s largest helicopter fleet. As such, Index captures the correspondence between the individual and environment as well as exploring the limits of the individual themselves.

It perhaps goes without saying that this is about as far into avant-garde territory as it possible to get: a work of pure experimentation, of parameter-pushing and prioritising process over end product. That doesn’t mean that Hvizdalek’s concept is entirely original: Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice (1996) stands as a bewildering document of one man’s immense vocal capabilities. It’s largely unlistenable, at least in anything more than small doses, but at least it’s broken into bite-sized chunks of sonic derangement. Hvizdalek makes no such concessions to accessibility, and while many of her vocal acrobatic are less extreme than Patton’s, Index is nevertheless a hugely challenging album, a morass of saliva and tongues and brain-bending bleating and blowing.

To describe the various sounds would be essentially pointless – not only dull, but abjectly failing to convey the actual experience of the album. So, Hvhizdalek hums and drones, wheezes and moans, ululates gutturally and breathes like a bellows. She squeaks and snarls and snarks and spits. But what’s remarkable is that while at times she sounds perfectly human and natural, oftentimes the sounds issuing forth from the speakers sound like no creature on earth. And yet the bewildering polytonal rasps and drones sound like no instrument known to wo/man either.

There’s no way in the world anyone is ever going to sit down and play this album for pleasure. I write as someone who’s actually spent the best part of an hour with these sounds rippling and bouncing from the speakers wired to my laptop wearing pyjamas and a bemused expression. A part of me feels obliged to give the album at least one more run-through, but the fact is, while I have absolute admiration for Hvizdalek’s artistic commitment and vision, I simply can’t face it, at least not now. This is absolutely no sleight on Hvizdalek’s work: Index is a true work of art. It’s a work to ponder, to reflect on and to sample when the mood takes. This may not be often, but in a world cluttered with sonic wallpaper, there’s a real need for an album like Index.

Agnes Hvizdalek – Index

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have announcd they are set to return to European shores with a comprehensive live itinerary later this year.  The band are currently working on a new as-yet-untitled studio album, which is expected to be released later this year.

All the shows will have a very limited number of VIP packages via Artist Arena that will include a Meet & Greet with all members of the band, sound check attendance, early venue entry, an exclusive merchandise item and a collectible laminate.

VIP/Ticket pre-sale will begin on Tuesday 9th May at 10am local times, with general on-sales to follow later in the week.  For full details check www.blackrebelmotorcycleclub.com.


October
23rd  Dublin  Academy, Ireland
24th  Belfast  Limelight, UK
26th  Glasgow Barrowland, UK
27th  Manchester  Academy, UK
28th  Birmingham  O2 Academy, UK
30th  Leeds  O2 Academy, UK
31st  Brighton  Dome, UK
November
2nd  Bristol O2 Academy, UK
3rd  Nottingham  Rock City, UK
4th  London O2 Academy Brixton, UK
6th  Copenhagen  Vega, Denmark
7th  Odense  Posten, Denmark
8th  Aarhus Train, Denmark
10th  Lille  Le Splendid, France
11th  Nancy  L’Autre Canal, France
12th  Strasbourg  La Laiterie,  France
14th  Grenoble  La Belle Electrique, France
15th  Nimes  Paloma, France
16th  Toulouse  Le Bikini, France
18th  La Rochelle  La Sirene, France
20th  Amsterdam  Paradiso, Netherlands
21st  Antwerp  De Roma, Belgium
22nd  Paris  Elysee Montmartre, France
25th  Hamburg  Grosse Freiheit, Germany
26th  Berlin  Columbiahalle, Germany
27th  Cologne  Live Music Hall, Germany
28th  Munich  Tonhalle, Germany
30th  Milan  Fabrique, Italy
December
1st  Lausanne  Les Docks, Switzerland
2nd  Zurich  Samsung Hall, Switzerland
3rd  Vienna  Arena, Austria

Self-released – 19th May 2017 – DL/CD (limited to 100 numbered/signed)

Christopher Nosnibor

Having witnessed the evolution of Her Name is Calla since the time of the first release of ‘Condor and River’ and their tour with iLiKETRAiNS (as they were styled back then), and having seen them play live at least a dozen times over the last decade, this release comes in many ways as a pleasing reminder of why they’re still a band worthy of attention and time.

Initially – and perhaps still – out of necessity, Her Name is Calla pursued a DIY ethos, recoding their ambitiously vast music at home and in tiny, cramped spaces and self-releasing in limited, hand-made, hand-numbered runs. And having worked with labels and achieved an international following, the fact they’re keeping things in-house means they’re a band that fans can still cherish and feel as if they’re ‘theirs’. And so it may be that they’ve settled into a certain cult position as they continue to plough their own unique furrow, but the offer of a limited edition of 100 signed CD copies of this live album reflects the band’s continued commitment to their ethics, their fans, and, above all, their music, which they continue to release with or without label backing.

Live at Bishop Street Church – recorded at Leicester’s Handmade Festival this year – captures the sound of a band with an ever-shifting lineup in their current incarnation, which sees them reunited with founder member and multi-instrumentalist Thom Corah, whose bras work proved to be a distinctive feature of their early work: his trombone action on tracks like ‘A Sleeper’ (by far the most buoyant song in their repertoire) and ‘Navigator’ certainly adds to the range of the overall sound, and changes the dynamics of some of the songs considerably.

Although they’ve changed the running order of the tracks, Live at Bishop Street Church is very much an honest account of the band’s live set.

While Her Name is Calla in 2017 are a lot more geared toward quiet, achingly mournful acoustic songs than epic, angst-dripping slow-burners that build to ear-bursting crescendos, there are still no shortage of songs which hit those emotional and sonic peaks to be found scattered throughout their post-Heritage recordings and which feature in their live sets.

The nine-minute ‘The Navigator’ is one of the clear standouts, not least of all because it encapsulates Her Name is Calla in their completeness: a hushed intro, a deliberately-paced build and a rip-roaring crescendo built on a tempest of brass, strings and guitar, with rolling drums rumbling like thunder toward the climax. Then again, the thirteen-minute ‘Dreamlands’ begins with a quiet, haunting segment where Tom Morris’ vocal soars, fragile and pained, over an acoustic guitar, before – three-minutes or so in – the build begins with sonorous brass burring low-end over crashing cymbals of increasing intensity and wordless vocals.

The write-up which accompany the release explain that “‘Meridian Arc’ and ‘Pour More Oil’ are presented here as ‘additional’ tracks as the multitrack failed during the recording of those songs. These were picked up solely by a handheld stereo audio recorder.” The audio quality is certainly less than the rest of the album, but the inclusion of the two tracks in integral to the release. While a shade muffled and heavily reverby, they do, nevertheless, capture the energy of the performance, and both tracks are quite integral to the set. The former is a work of thunderous dynamics and ragged emotional outpouring, while the latter, which closes the album, has become one of the band’s signature pieces, a haunting, spiritual offering which is incredibly moving in any context. Here, stretched out to almost ten minutes, it almost redefines the term ‘haunting epic’.

As a band whose catalogue is littered with incidental and peripheral releases, Live at Bishop Street Church adds to the sprawling clutter which renders them one of those acts which are a completist’s nightmare. But this is also a well-realised document of the latest phase of a band in constant transition. And while the older material is largely overlooked, it does highlight the quality of their later work, as well as evidence the strength of their current live form.

 

 

HNIC_Live BSC

On Saturday, June 13 Ellesmere Port noise-punks, Saltwater Injection will release their new anti-anthem, ‘Cuntryfile Part 3’ into the world.

Inspired by Bleach-era Nirvana, and Black Flag, Joe Nuttal (bass) and Paul Soames (drums, vocals) are ready to smash up your expectations of what to expect from a two-piece band.

As the press release puts, it, ‘this is quite frankly, pure and proper balls-to-the-wall heaviness, and we hope you’re ready?!’ and yes, it’s as gnarly as fuck: just the way we like it here at Aural Aggravation.

Recorded at The Vic Studios in Wrexham with Michael Harmina (Def Neon), and produced by Addz Milner (The Ladder), the track is a vehicle for the band’s aggression, and an outlet for their defiant and angry creation. Vocalist Paul Soames comments: "We needed to vent our anger at the terrible actions at the policies that we can see ruining our country, and at the strongly unstable people putting those policies in place."

Formed in 2013, Saltwater Injection have toured with the likes of Baby Godzilla, Blitz Kids and Sham 69.

 

Ironically, this news piece is longer than the song itself, which you can get your soon-to-be-bleeding lugs round here:

 

 

Kranky – 19th May 2017

James Wells

‘Atmospheric’, ‘haunting’, ‘hypnotic’… these are the first words which spring to mind while the resonant bass notes pulse long and slow beneath Irma Orm’s uniquely sedate voice, bathed in radiant reverb like a sonic halo. These words are all cliché, the everyday tools of the music writer’s trade, and in being cliché, their power has been eroded over time. But what words are there which truly convey, and do justice to, the depths of the music which comprises Nektyr?

The album’s seven tracks are expansive in every direction: textured, rich, slow in tempo, they gradually unfurl to reveal an enigmatic sonic vastness and deep emotional pull.

‘Morgon’ drifts, fugue-like, the dense cloud of sound utterly immersive and with Orm’s vocal, Jarboe’s most intoxicating work comes to mind by way of a touchstone. Woozy synth tones lurch and sway over a stuttering heartbeat of a drum in the fade of ‘Korridorer’.

This is deep material that reaches into the soul on an almost subliminal level: to dissect its power to the point at which it can be readily conveyed n words would be to diminish that power. This is music which communicates on another level, one which transcends language and as such, renders any critical appraisal in mere words not only challenging, but essentially obsolete. This is music you feel, intuitively, instinctively, and in your core. It’s a spiritual, if not a religious experience. Indescribably moving on a level far below the conscious, it really is quite an album.

 

KRANK209_10x10_300dpi

Ok, so Thunderclap is new to us, too. And we thought we knew everything about music promo. It turns out it’s a no-money pledge thing, whereby the only committment on the part of the pledger is to share a link.

While we’re new to Thunderclapping, Salvation Jayne are known to us here at Aural Aggravation, and their single, ‘Burn it Down’, is a belter that deserves to be heard far and wide. You can get involved in making a Thunderclap wave for Salvation Jayne here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/56919-burn-it-down. Who knows, this could be the future of music promo.

In advance of the video release, you can get your lugs round ‘Burn it Down’ here:

 

Burn It Down