Archive for April, 2019

10th May 2019 – Constellation

Christopher Nosnibor

SING SINCK, SING was always going to be a bit of a trip, being the fruits of a collaboration between Efrim Manuel Menuck – founding member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion – and Kevin Doria from Growing and Total Life.

‘Do the Police Embrace?’ sets the tone: an immense, repetitive, oscillating drone where melody melts into vaporous abstraction and the vocals, not atonal, but keyless and quavering. There’s a heavily sedated, psychedelic feel which is all-pervasive: the album’s five tracks are sprawling patchouli-scented sonic meditations.

‘A Humming Void an Emptied Place’ is the sound of multitonal dronal collapse, and stands comparisons to some of the extended drone-centric workouts that feature on Swans’ Soundracks for the Blind and the releases from their last iteration, only without the build, the crescendo, dare I say the pay-off? The objective is clearly very different: this is an album designed for hypnotic immersion rather than catharsis.

In music criticism, ‘woozy’ is one of those descriptors that has mixed connotations, perhaps more often than not hinting at a vague mixed pleasure a certain level of dizziness can give rise to, the light flip of the stomach after a rollercoaster or a touch of alcohol-induced giddiness. But are SING SINCK, SING (is that an album title or a band name, or both?) feels more like the woozy of carsickness after a long journey on winding, bumpy roads on a hot day. It’s the awkward, slurring slapback reverb on the vocals on ‘We Will’; it’s the droning organ tones that criss-cross in slightly out-of-time waves; it’s the formless expanses which undulate, heave, and sigh.

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Finalists in Belgian’s magazine Humo’s Rock Rally 2016 and winners of broadcaster Studio Brussel’s ‘De Nieuwe Lichting’ 2018, their packed festival summer and completely sold out club tour took them all over Belgium in 2018. Portland creates dreamy, everlasting storytelling songs.

The band’s debut single ‘Pouring Rain’ gained more than a million streams on Spotify, under their own management. Their subtle rework (upon request of Studio Brussel) of alt-J’s ‘Matilda’ gained popularity faster than expected and was released as a successful second single.

Their rise in popularity didn’t go unnoticed and last summer Portland proudly teamed up with [PIAS]. The first result of this partnership was ‘Lucky Clover’, an emotional, dreamy and subtle piece of harmonic prose, whose greatest strength is the harmonies and interaction between front duo Jente Pironet and Sarah Pepels. The single got picked up on radio in Flanders, club shows sold out quickly and an invitation to play this year’s Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop festivals followed.

Gearing up to release their debut full length album after the summer, Portland now proudly presents their new single ‘Expectations’. An epic and cathartic love song using lush strings, chimes, timpani, electronics and electric guitars to counter Jente and Sarah’s remarkable voices. “‘Expectations’ is about high hopes, deep disappointments and very abstract interactions between attractions, rejections, doubts and certainties,” Jente explains. It’s a bold move and a step up from their previous output, still retaining the same otherworldly, dreamlike quality.

Watch the video here:

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Portland

Hominid Sounds / Rip This Joint –10th May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Do we need another sort-of semi-supergroup? When said collective features members of USA Nails, Death Pedals, It Often Takes A War, and Los Bitchos, we absolutely do. The label promises an album packed with ‘succinct slices of Jesus Lizard infused garage punk dealing with the big issues of our time from Brexit to Hollywood sex scandals’.

The lyrics aren’t always – or even that often – decipherable, but this is the kind of roaring guitar racket that you listen to first and foremost for sonic impact and the sheer viscerality. Then again, titles like ‘Biased Broadcasting Corporation’ give a fair indication of their anti-establishment antagonism. No messing: Dead Arms play proper punk, hardcore style, fast and incredibly furious: the rage burns and pours from every pore, every bar, every note. And yes, the influence of The Jesus lizard on their gritty, dirty, sweaty heft of noise is more than apparent even without single cut ‘Apocalypse Yow’ (which is straight out of the book of That Fucking Tank punning titles and is accompanied by a zero-budget video cobbled together from BBC footage from the House of Commons).

The howling mania and jolting, juddering, lurching rhythm and angular guitars are raw and primitive, and there’s nothing pretty about this. With the majority of the songs clocking in well under the three-minute mark, it’s a short album that achieves maximum impact through sheer brute force.

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Opa Loka Records – OL1902 – 10th May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Monsta is a solo project by Boaz Bentur, bass player and producer from north of Israel combining elements from psychedelic music, electronic and experimental.

III is Bentur’s second release as Monsta, and comprises two (very) long tracks, ‘A3’ (28:00) and ‘B3’ (36:54). According to the accompanying text, ‘This album is a part from a series of live psychedelic/meditative sessions performed in special locations and atmospheres when people are lying down on the floor with eyes closed’.

At first, there is nothing, and I forgot I’d even started the thing playing. Then, after a minute or so, a vague sound, barely audible… then something resembling the sound of a distant plane…. The continuous hum swells in volume, but changes barely, if at all. Over time, echoic rumbles and soft, nebulous drones spread to fill the air. Besides this, not a lot happens. But one senses the purpose behind the music here is about anything but events, what happens or doesn’t happen, but about the sensations it inspires. And that sensation is incredibly soothing, as the sounds somehow render time an irrelevance and lift the mind out of the body into a state of great calm. You don’t step out of time, as much as slowly float above it, the bonds of corporeal existence gradually loosening as you slide into another dimension.

Around 18 minutes into ‘A3’, you realise it’s still going and that the echoing notes and vespers that tinge the air have changed, although it’s impossible to describe how or why. There just seems to be more… space. More echo. This feels more controlled somehow, more composed, note consciously layered, the reverberations more formulated, but it still feels and sounds fluid, and every layer of vaporous drone seamlessly transitions into the next. And consequently, you’re actually feeling relaxed, ok.

Yes, by you, I mean me. I’m not really listening: because Monsta III is ambient to the max. I’m pottering about doing other things, reading news items and Facebook comments, but as ‘A3’ tapers into the turning contrails of ‘B3’, I’m vaguely aware that this is ‘background’ music at its best. My heart rate is normal, I’m not twitchy or anxietised, and without my doing breathing exercises. I’m light, at ease. Vaguely bewildered, uncommonly separated and approaching a certain contentment.

And even now, the title remains a mystery.

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The press release describes the video for the latest cut lifted from Whispering Sons as ‘apocalyptic’ – so of course if got our attention. And the the ‘Best Belgian Band’ don’t disappoint: the bleak visuals are the perfect accompaniment to the tense goth-hued drama, Fenne Kuppens’ voice conveys a blend of fear and loathing against a backdrop of sinewy, tripwire guitars and a meaty backbone of drums and growling bass.

‘The end-of-days feeling of the track is illustrated in the remarkable video. No demonic four horseman, no bloodthirsty robots or aliens to exterminate humanity, but a serene and peaceful kind of doom… We see youngsters assemble at the tree of life in a desolate desert-like setting. Their trancelike gaze aimed high at the sky that’s about to fall… Death from above… Parting ways together… determined, undaunted, unconcerned… “I’ve been afraid too long, I’ve been afraid too long…”’

The band are also at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton this year.

Watch ‘Hollow’ here:

Hull Doom merchants, The Parasitic Twins have released a live video to accompany their latest single; a lo-fi heavy cover of the 90s classic ‘Spaceman’ by Babylon Zoo, which was released on April 5th. All proceeds of the sale are going to The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). The single is taken from a split EP with York-based hardcore punks, The Carnival Rejects (released via Bandcamp on May 31st in association with Man Demolish Records).

Watch the video here:

Of the decision to record the cover, drummer Dom Smith comments: "Man, we love Babylon Zoo. This is a classic track that was way ahead of its time, and we just wanted to mess with it, and we’ll probably stress a lot of people out, but use it as a way to bring attention to an incredible cause in CALM."

Of CALM’s importance on a national scale, Dom adds: "Male mental health is becoming more spotlighted every day, and myself and Max [guitars and vocals] want to offer any support we can to spread the word."

Those interested in donating to CALM can do so here.

The Parasitic Twins will also head out to Europe and across the UK for a run of shows this April with grindcore mates, Boycott The Baptist and Clunge Destroyer:

APRIL TOUR DATES

19th – The Morgue, Leeuwarden – Holland

20th – Muggefug EV, Cottbus – Germany

23 – Bird’s Nest, London – UK

24 – The Parish, Huddersfield- UK

25 – Paradiddles, Worcester- UK

26 – The Bobbin, Lancaster- UK

27 – The Old England, Bristol- UK

28 – Secret Show, Carlisle- UK

30th April 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

The last thing you’ll get from Whalesong is any ambient relaxation sound piece or ‘blue planet’ chillout. Formed a decade ago in Poland by Michal ‘Neithan’ Kielbasa and drawing on elements of industrial, no wave and drone, the ever-shifting collective have established a reputation for extreme weight and extreme volume.

Their third album, following on from Disorder (2017) and Disorder Deconstructed, features a stellar host of musicians Thor Harris (Swans, Wrekmeiste Harmonies, Xiu Xiu), Waclaw Vogg Kieltyka (Decapitated), Aleksander Papierz (Sigihl) and award-winning vibraphonist Tomasz Herisz. But ahead of the release of the double-disc Radiance of a Thousand Suns, they’re treating us to the Gateway EP, the title of which suggests it offers the listener an avenue, an opening, through which to pass to the album proper.

The twelve-minute title track begins with a slow, torturous industrial beat, a plodding trudge that sounds like sheet metal being hit with a sledgehammer. Extraneous noise hovers around, while the vocals, detached, inhuman, echo into the bleakness. And then the drone hits. It’s a dense, distorted, agonizing drone with the volume of a jet engine. Everything screams pain and anguish. And still that constant metallic thud crashes with metronomic regularity, and hammers into your brain. And it goes on forever. The effect is purgatorial, the relentlessness punishing. Sitting obediently on a bed of nails and brandishing a club alongside Swans circa 82-86, ‘Gateway’ is music for masochists at its very best.

Promising to display difference facets of the band on this release, ‘I Am Not Here’ (which may or may not be on some vinyl pressings) is lighter, a bright conglomeration of dulcimers, hanging bells and chiming percussion ring out in unison. Flickers of rhythm emerge from the rippling jangles, although there is no distinct form to be found here. Nothing really happens: it simply jingles along pleasantly, although with endless repetition eventually comes a sense of disquiet.

They’re not kidding when they say the vinyl release is limited: the hand-numbered 10" lathe cut vinyl, which comes in folded black art paper with ‘100% hand-made screen-printed silver metallic artwork’ featuring a picture by Michal Biel, and with packaging design and layout by Mentalporn’ comes in. transparent vinyl limited to 10 copies, some of which will have hidden bonus track on side B, while black vinyl is limited to just 1 copy.

Needless to say, these were sold out before I came to review the release, but at least there’s still the digital option….

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