Archive for August, 2017

Future Void Records – 25th August 2017

James Wells

The pedant in me – and he’s a dominant, sarcastic brawling bastard – asks if two tracks with a combined running time of just over eight minutes really constitutes an EP. The same pedant also wonders if post-rock and post-hardcore can really sit together as a hybrid genre.

The debut release by Brighton’s Chalk Hands makes him shut the fuck up. These two cuts – ‘Burrows’ and ‘Arms’ – are both brutal and beautiful in equal measure. The guitars shift between delicate chiming notes and driving power chords, the vocals a nihilistic snarl of rage amidst the tempest.

According to the band’s bio, they’ve been compared to Pianos Become The Teeth, Caspian, and Envy. Because I’m old and because it’s impossible to know every inch of every microgenre or even every genre, I don’t know any of these bands, but instead draw from a sphere of reference that includes Profane and Andsoiwatchyoufromafar, and comparisons to both are favourable in the case of Chalk Hands. However, they also reference MONO and Russian Circles, and yes, they hold up nicely against them too.

On ‘Burrows’ in particular, Chalk Hands build some awesome crescendos from delicate, rippling washes of clean, chorused guitars, presenting an impressive dynamic and emotional range.

Chalk Hands EP Sleeve R2 OL

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Christopher Nosnibor

It seems as if this release is designed to cause maximum confusion. It’s called 2014 and is being released here in 2017. It was ‘originally’ released by German label Attenuation Circuit on 8th August 2017, and has been – so far as I can make out – independently released by the artist himself, with the subtitle of Attenuation Circuit 2017. Given the album’s contents, it sort of works.

The accompanying blurb – which is in fact culled from a review published on August 12th (is this chronology messing with your orientation yet?) is a curious mix of hyperbole, unusual metaphors and theoretical reference points:

‘Gintas K will shower the ears with a whole lot of incredible data streams, all clustering electronica bits and bytes that drop down in a wild way. As if data communications had been flushed through the shower head, tumble down and ending up together in the drain. Strangely when the tap is closed and these electrodes have calmed down in their dripping ways, they actually form beautiful sounding music… well, music might not be the word for all to say, but it does feel like there is a lot of beauty to be discovered in these busy data dada streams.’

As much as the quirkily playful application of abstract digitalism does clearly it comfortably within the framework of Dadaism, it’s also a work which readily aligns itself to the postmodern, in the way that it effectively recreates the experience of information overload, and does so in a fashion which is both nostalgic and retro (the sparking circuits are more dial-up than fibre optic) and executed with a certain hint of parodic pastiche. At the pace of progress as it stands, even 2014 feels like a point of nostalgia on the cultural timeline: a year which predates the vote for Brexit and the accession to power of Donald Trump, it may be a year with little going for it and which has little to mark it as memorable, but many would likely concur that 2014 stands in a period which is better than the present.

2014 is certainly one of Gintas K’s noisier and more challenging releases. While Slow was a subtle and quite quiet, delicate work, 2014 is far more up-front and attacking in every respect. It’s also more difficult to position, in that it absolutely does not conform to simple genre categories like ‘ambient’, instead straddling vague brackets like ‘electionica’, ‘industrial’, and ‘experimental’.

Hurtling from the speakers from the get go streams a barrage of gloopy digital extranea, a glissando of chiming binaries and a dizzying digital wash that flickers and flies in all directions, an aural Brownian motion of beeps and bleeps.

The eight-minute ‘max’ starts very much as ‘min’, with a full three minute’s silence, before a brief crashing facsimile of some metallic kind of percussion makes a fleeting appearance. There are sporadic clunks and scrapes and minute glimmers of higher-end frequencies, but for the most part, the silence of space dominates the clutter of sound.

‘5 zemu ir max2’ sounds like R2D2 having a seizure, with occasional blasts of distortion and random thuds punctuating the frenzied stream of bleeps. It’s ten minutes long. And I have no idea what the title – or indeed any of the titles attached to the individual pieces – stands a s reference to, just as the overarching 2014 has no obvious connection to the seven tracks it contains.

Crackled a gloops and bloops and whiplash blasts of static, crashes like cars impacting at speed and jangling rings all congeal into a digital mush which bewilders and disrupts the temporal flow. 2014 is disorientating, and not just in the immediate moment, but in terms of a wider placement and sense of time / space.

Gintas K - 2014

Tenacity Music – 12th May 2017

James Wells

Now into their eleventh year, Sweden’s Voice of Ruin throw down their third full-length. And they don’t mess around. They’ve shared stages with the stage with bands like Hatebreed, Children Of Bodom, The Black Dahlia Murder, Caliban, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Entombed or Sylosis.

I’ll admit that I’m not intimately familiar with all of these bands: any reviewer who makes like they know every touchtone act for every band going is a liar. But I’m more than qualified to report that this is brutal: the first track, ‘Disgust’ starts with the title being spat with howling distain before the barrage of instrumentation blasts in full-throttle, and it sets the tone and the pace nicely. There are fast and furious guitar solos in abundance, but they’re pegged against some seriously dense and dingy rhythm guitar and a powerhouse rhythm section which keeps everything pinned down with a major emphasis on the low-end and the relentless chug.

On ‘Horns’ they throw in some neat post-metal detailings, while ‘I Confess’ has some theatrically gothic overtones. The spiralling technical work which dominates the dense riffery and rage which define Purge And Purify make for an album that has a lot to keep the listener engaged.

Voice Of Ruin – Purge And Purify

Ipecac Recordings – 1st September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Dälek have always been about progress and evolution, and not only remaining contemporary but pushing the parameters. Since they emerged in ’98, they’ve stood at the forefront of the challenging end of hip-hop, a genre which has witnessed immense expansion over the last two decades – but has equally seen its horizons shrink dramatically within the suffocating avenues of the commercial mainstream. One might say that this polarity is a key fact in the framing of Endangered Philosophies. The polarisation between the mainstream and everything else musical is representative of the world at large: the political landscape provides perhaps the most significant and substantial indicator here, with left and right parties both moving further away from centre and claiming almost equal ground in the process, and not just domestically here in England.

Endangered Philosophies is an album for the now, as the press release points out: ‘Within the context of the current political landscape, the title Endangered Philosophies certainly brings to mind pertinent issues of moment, notably the rampant rise of anti-intellectualism, as well as the all too rapid erosion of genuinely progressive values in the face of fearful reactionary forces.’

‘Echoes Of…’ launches the album with a nauseating washing machine churn that grinds along before the thumping rhythm crashes in. the vocals are low in the mix – rare and seemingly contradictory for a hip-hop album, but this is Dälek, an act as inclined toward rock and industrial tropes as conventional hip-hop stylings. It’s a gnarling industrialised trudge, and the whiplash scratching and other overt concessions to genre form are crushed hard against one another into an oppressive and intense slab of sound.

‘Weapons’ is woozy, dark, and suffocating. ‘Few Understand’ is less abrasive, but rides on a dense, pulsating swell of sound underpinned by a plodding beneath that carries a real weight. Sometimes, a live drum sound is all it takes to elevate a hip-hop track above the conventions and into fresh, liberated territories.

With the vocals enveloped in delay and heavy layers of extraneous noise, the lyrics aren’t always entirely prominent, but the sentiment is entirely clear at all times. The shuffling trudge of ‘Son of Immigrants’ is underpinned by an almost subsonic bass. In contrast, there’s something approaching a levity about ‘Beyond the Madness’, the semi-ambient synths drifting cinematically over the insistent rhythm, and the seven-minute ‘A Collective Cancelled Thought’ is monumentally weighty, the bass churning beneath a shifting, turning squall of sound. ‘Battlecries’ is slow and bleak, with lyrics about black males being murdered and the state of culture and society providing the message to the work of the mixed medium.

It’s the contrasts which lie at the heart of the compositions on Endangered Philosophies which make it the album it is, and which render it so compelling.

Dalek_EP_Cover

Dälek share a brand new video for ‘Echoes Of…’, the opening track from their upcoming new album, Endangered Philosophies (1st September, Ipecac Recordings). The video was directed, animated, and produced by Chris White (EAM – Electric Action Messages).

Watch below, and check out their recently announced European tour dates further down.

ENDANGERED PHILOSOPHIES TOUR DATES:

Thu. 2-Nov-2017 FR Grenoble – La Bobine w/ Labrats Bugband
Sat. 4-Nov-2017 FR Lyon – Bizarre! w/ Dead Obies
Sun 5-Nov-2017 CH Martigny – Les Caves Du Manoir
Mon 6-Nov-2017 DE Esslingen – Komma
Tue 7-Nov-2017 DE Nuremburg – Musik Verein
Wed 8-Nov-2017 DE Berlin – Urban Spree w/ debmaster 
Fri 10-Nov-2017 DK Copenhagen – Stengade 
Sun 12-Nov-2017 BE Kortrijk – Sonic City Festival, curated by Thurston Moore, with Moor Mother…
Tue 14-Nov-2017 UK Colchester – Colchester Arts Centre
Wed 15-Nov-2017 NO Oslo – Bla with Moor Mother
Thu 16-Nov-2017 UK London  – Underworld Camden
Fri 17-Nov-2017 FR Paris – Batobar
Sat. 18-Nov-2017 FR Brest – Festival Invisible at La Carene with Action Beat and Camera

SUMMER TOUR DATES:

Fri. 18-Aug-2017 Club Cafe – Pittsburgh, PA
Sat. 19-Aug-2017 Double Happiness – Columbus, OH
Sun. 20-Aug-2017 Mac’s – Lansing, MI
Mon. 21-Aug-2017 Reggies – Chicago, IL (w/ Cult Of Luna)
Tue. 22-Aug-2017 Mod Club Theatre – Toronto, Canada (w/ Cult Of Luna)
Wed. 23-Aug-2017 Corona Theatre – Montreal, Canada (w/ Cult Of Luna)
Thu. 24-Aug-2017 Worcester Palladium – Worcester, MA (w/ Cult Of Luna)

Fri. 25-Aug-2017 Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY (w/ Cult Of Luna)

Sat. 28-Oct  Baltimore, MD  Rams Head (Days of Darkness Festival)

Ventil Records – V006

James Wells

I know next to nothing about this release. Here’s a moment of transparency: music reviewers receive absolutely shedloads of stuff to review. Press releases are handy, not just as a shortcut when it comes to research, but also for locating inroads into a work. But even with a press release to hand, details surrounding Wealth are sketchy.

Consisting of Michael Lahner (synths) and Manuel Riegler (drums, synths), Wealth draw on a range of different forms of electronic music to create what they consider to be a ‘highly organic mix’. Sonically, there’s very much a preoccupation with soft-edged pulsations: the beats are largely rounded, bulbous, and when more angular rhythms do emerge, as on ‘Plate LXXVI (Diagram for Lilies), they’re countered by altogether less aggressive synth tones with hazy outlines.

Subtle, stealthy, glitchy ambience with backed-off beats are on offer with Primer. Sonic washes and rippling, elongated, undulating bleeps eddy around agitated, juddering rhythms so backed off in the mix as to be barely subliminal. ‘Floor’ lays a deep groove; not so much one to get down to as to lie down and allow total immersion.

Primer is a delicate, balanced work, with considerable range beneath its more subtle, subdued surfaces.

Wealth - Primer