Archive for May, 2017

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

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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.

 

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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

With Observed in a Dream, Norwegian purveyors of  psychedelic post-punk / shoegaze, Mayflower Madame, delivered one of our favourite albums of 2016. While their second album is unlikely to see the light until late 2017 or even early 2017, they’ve unveiled ‘Drown’ by way of a taster now. It’s by no means a mere stop gap: to say the signs are good for the next album would be an understatement. A whirl of echo-heavy gutars and even more echo-heavy baritone vocals, ‘Drown’ has an aching melacholy emotional pull. Watch the video and get your lugs around it here: