Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

15th July 2018

Recently named ‘artist of the month’ at The Great Frog, former Arrows of Love drummer, film and game soundtracker and artist in his own right, Mike Frank is on a bit of a roll.

He’s written and recorded two albums post-Arrows: ‘This is going to get weird… I’m going to make this weird’, which he describes as ‘a collection of orchestral and experimental film music songs’, and an album featuring Rufus Miller, Lyndsey Lupe and Artur Dyjecinski which is ‘full of dark sounds and Middle Eastern instruments’. Only the former has yet seen the light of day.

A taster of a forthcoming album, ‘All My Possessions’ has no connection with either project, and is infinitely more accessible – I’ll refrain from going so far as to say commercial – than anything we’ve heard from him so far. What’s more, this downtempo yet somehow simultaneously jaunty, jangly indie rock tune, which boasts a really rather catchy chorus, hints further at his songwriting range. With delicate, understated, picked guitar and a bleak croon, the opening resembles Leonard Cohen, and there’s a darkness which shadows the song as a whole.

Bukowski’s influence is rendered explicit in the lifted footage which accompanies the song, which is essentially about the vagabond life of a writer, but also, as he puts it ‘about feeling down and out, lonely or even desperate’ – and you wonder which voice or perspective lines like ‘she’s so good to me / I’m such an asshole’ and ‘I like to drink because I can / It makes me feel like I’m still with the band’ are really coming from.

It’s got a nice slow build that swells subtly to a full finish, and is, as a song, rounded and satisfying. And really very nice, if kinda sad.

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Mike Frank

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Ipecac Recordings – 15th June 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Having teased us with the Cure cover which accompanies four remixes from their Seismic LP and provides, in part, the EP’s title, Spotlights deliver the rest of the tracks.

There’s substantial range here: Kris Dirkson’s remix of ‘Hang us All’ (retitled ‘The Hanging’) hinges on cinematic shoegaze, ethereal but, whittled to half its original length, feels focused and tightly structured.

Mario Quintero’s remix of ‘Ghost of a Glowing Forest’ (‘Till Darkness Comes Out’) is quite the contrast: a sprawling, murky, dubby beast that transitions from near-ambience to slow industrial thud, it sits between NIN and Portishead.

‘The Size of a Planet’, here reworked by Void Mains and retitled ‘I’ve Giant’ accentuates the heavy, bass-led doom drone that lies beneath the graceful lead parts on the album version, and draws it out to almost seven minutes. It’s pretty hefty. In combination, they make for a strong release, and while standing well in their own right, serve to return the attention to the album that spawned them.

The rendition of ‘Faith’ is utterly breathtaking. They’ve not messed with the original in terms of form or structure, and it’s remarkably faithful (sorry) and respectful – but with the heavy guitar work and even heavier drumming, it amps up the intensity to epic levels.

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SpotlightsEPcoverlores1

1st June 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

It all starts with an air-raid siren. A historical sound with connotations of WW2 for many, but still heard in places like South Korea and Japan, it’s a sound which provokes an almost biologically-wired shudder of unease. They may only be tests, but the sound of sirens in the last 12 months reminds us that stability is but precarious. And then the snaking, surfy bass strolls in, awash with reverb… and then the guitars… It’s all pinned to a locked-down groove, and Trond Fagernes’ voice rises up from amidst it all as if from the back of a cathedral. You saw it all coming, right? They obviously did and approach by stealth, before building to a whiling cacophony by way of a climax. But for all of its noise and tension, this feels more introspective than anything they’ve done before.

Norway’s Mayflower Madame draw heavily on post-punk influences – music born out of the dark days of the early 80s, corresponding with the period when cold war tensions escalated to warrant the labelling of ‘the second cold war’, and the economic boom years widened the chasm between the haves and have-nots was rendered more conspicuous by the rise of the yuppie. And so on.

What Mayflower Madame bring to the gothy party is a potent dose of Nordic noir psych and a dash of shoegaze, all doused in massive reverb, and the four tracks on Premonition continue the trajectory of their 2016 debut album, Observed in a Dream.

The claustrophobic focus continues on the swirling, shoegazy ‘Before I Fall’; the guitars twang through a gauze of drifting synths and echoey fx that create a certain distance between the listener and the actual song, an unusual sense of both space and an absence of space. ‘Alma’s Sermon’ is centred around a backed-off yet insistent motoric beat and has greater immediacy and – it’s all relative – upbeat vibe. But then closer ‘Siders Seek’ plunges deeper into darkness: a paranoid shiver runs down the spine of the track’s tremulous guitars, and everything about the song’s construction seems to be about concentrating the tension. And yes, this is tense.

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Mayflower Madame – Premonition EP

20th April 2018

James Wells

Adrena Adrena is an experimental audiovisual duo consisting of. E-da Kazuhisa (Boredoms, Seefeel) and artist Daisy Dickinson, and they’re pitched as being for fans of Can, Faust, Wire, etc. According to their press release, ‘the duo cut a raw blend of drums, noise and organic visual work, featuring in their performances an eight-foot white sphere that hangs above Kazuhisa’s drum kit and which Dickinson maps videos on to.’

Naturally, the organic visual work doesn’t translate to the medium of recoded sound, but nevertheless, it’s a multisensory experience, which resonates on various levels, at least half of which are subliminal.

‘Cybals’ is a mess of murky noise, thumping, tone-shifting drums muffled by bass and mid-range and drowning in a sea of reverb. It’s industrial in strength, with echoes of Revolting Cocks’ ‘Beers, Steers and Queers’ bouncing angrily around an electro space. There’s some pretty aggressive modulation, not to mention savage treble going on.

‘Toys’ may have playful connotations in its title, and it’s a fair bit less abrasive than its counterpart, with a twittering see-saw motif dragging and quavering over a simple, repetitive beat. But the fills are dubby, clattering and laced with heavy echo, and thick ripples of bass cut through like squelchy, booming foghorn pulses. The effect is one of a certain resonant dissonance, a sonic collision.

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Adrena_Adrena_Sleeve_Only

Warren Records – 16th March 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

We think we may have mentioned Cannibal Animal once or twice before here on Aural Aggro – and there’s a very good reason for this: the Hull band make a dark, dense, swampy post-punk racket that owes as much to The Cramps and The Volcanoes as anyone else, on account of the serpentine lead guitars and reverb-soaked surf sound. With a thunderous rhythm section, it’s more like surfing a tsunami than coasting on the crest of a wave, mind. Throw in a dollop of early 90s underground noise – think in particular early Therapy? And you’ve got the measure. Their latest offering, ‘A Decline in Morality’ is a belter. As if lead single ‘Ellipsisism’ didn’t already demonstrate it already.

The band explain that ‘Lyrically these songs are about the moral compass of specific fictional characters’, with ‘Lack of Skin’ turning focus to ‘the candle burning nymphomaniac’. If ever a track distilled a potent blend of tripwire tension and a loose, near-tribal groove, it’s this one, with bone-rattling beats and a fat, fuzzy bass driving a fury of guitar bathed in cavernous echo. The effect is one of terrifying entrapment, but edged with a twist of sleaze.

The desperation and anxiety that drives the band’s work has hit critical mass here: it’s less about sonic density and thick, overdriven guitars, and more about scorching, wild-eyed mania. And I can’t recall the last time I heard a conventional fade-out…

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/2gS3ogYcsSaW67jmKTcLAz

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Cannibal Animal -Decline

20th April 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

I was on the edge of my seat for a cover of Inner Circle’s 90s reggae-pop classic when this landed with me, but on balance, this offering from Windsor-based quartet Saharas is better.

It’s vaguely horrifying to consider the notion that anything jangly and melodic indie with a tense, post-punk undertone, reminiscent of the class of, oh, c2003 or 2004 may qualify as connoting a certain nostalgia. But then, nostalgia is a vague and intensely personal sensation. Being the age I am, I’m probably more likely to feel pangs for 1994 than 2004. And yet, 2004… pre-family, disposable income, part-time work… strolling down to my local record shop mid-morning on a Monday and splurging disposable income on the latest vinyl… Yeah, I can buy into a nostalgia for that, as I recall strolling home with releases by the likes of Editors, Interpol, She Wants Revenge, The Organ, stowed in a nice square carrier bag. I miss it. The likelihood is that someone 10 years younger will feel a nostalgia for whatever they were doing in 2004 (which may well have been a variation on the same thing).

‘Sweat’ very much captures not only the sound, but the energy surrounding the zeitgeist of the first few post-millennial years, which blended a certain optimism with the pessimism of almost twenty years previous. It boasts a spectacularly nagging chorus-soaked guitar-line that hints as much at Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’ as Editors’ ‘Munich’.

It’s all extremely fitting for the current climate: dark times call for dark music, and also inspire a yearning for better times. The early years of the millennium, by which time the euphoria of Labour’s 1997 landslide had slipped into a malaise even before the recession hit, echoed the wilderness of 30 years previous. In 2018, 2004 looks like a hoot.

But most importantly, it’s a cracking tune with hooks galore, and it would be so in any decade.

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Saharas - Sweat

13th April 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Being a Sister of Mercy is a long way from being a full-time job, an even Andrew Eldritch must have a lot of time on his hands these days. Ben Christo isn’t one to sit idle, though, fronting Night by Night between 2008 and 2015, before founding Diamond Black the following year, as well as working alongside Raymond Watts on Pig’s Prey &Obey.

With their second single entitled ‘Ghost in the Glass’, it all hints at something that’s a bit, well, stereotypical goth, you might say – something The Sisters have always tended to avoid, despite being saddled with the somewhat ignominious tag of being the godfathers of the genre. But you’ll not find any bats or graveyards or introverted moping in the Sisters’ back catalogue, and thankfully, Diamond Black are more about the hard edges of polished steel than the soft feelings of doomed romanticism and despair.

‘Ghost in the Glass’ is built around a very contemporary Sisters-like guitar riff, a driving rhythm and spindly lead line creating a distinct dynamic tension. The guitars are up-front and pack some grit and heft, making this a more overtly ‘rock’ proposition, but the first point where Diamond Black clearly depart from The Sisters is in the live drumming, which, tight as it is, gives a freer feel.

The second and perhaps most obvious point of departure is in the vocal style: singer J.I.Turunen is Finnish and brings a quintessential mainland Europe rock delivery: strong, but clean and melodic. Proper singing, if you will. If it carries echoes of classic 80s rock, it equally suggests that their biggest audience lies cross-channel, rather than domestically. This isn’t a criticism, not least of all because I must confess to having a soft spot for Andreas Bruhn’s solo album – and this, with its punchy rock attributes, is way better.

The production’s expansive, but doesn’t detract from the forward thrust of the guitars and the result is a song that’s simultaneously widescreen and punchy. The bottom line is that Christo has a knack for a chunky riff and a decent tune, and it’s great to hear some of them being recorded and released. More, please!

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Diamond Black