Posts Tagged ‘Atmospheric’

Box Records – 7th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Gavin Miller’s hardly been slacking of late: in fact, it turns out I’ve been struggling to keep pace with his output this last year or so. While for many, time seems to have stalled since the sequence of lockdowns began some fourteen months ago, Miller’s had his foot firmly on the accelerator, expanding the already extensive worriedaboutsatan catalogue with five new releases, including an archival excavation (appropriately titled The Vault) and an expanded reissue of the Europa EP, and a split release with Capac, all of which followed a brand-new LP, in the form of Time Lapse.

This latest effort, releases on Box Records, run by Matt Beatty of Pigs x7, arrives almost a year to the day after Time Lapse, and is in many respects of the period since its predecessor was recorded, a period which has been both eventful and uneventful at the same time.

The liner notes detail Miller’s objective in piecing together the album as follows: ‘Resisting the urge to simply turn in more longform experiments in expansive post-rock informed electronica, Providence seeks to capture several different elements of the ‘satan sound, whilst attempting to thread it together into one cohesive whole.’

There has been a certain sense of linearity to the majority of previous ‘satan releases, although that sense of trajectory has, for me, always been most defined in the live sets, and the challenge here is very much how does one provide a sense of flow, of linearity, or narrative, of continuity; to what is, in many ways, a drifting desert of time, punctuated by so very little?

Since the departure of Thomas Ragsdale, at which point worriedaboutsatan again became Gain solo, the beat and bass elements of the sound have much more subdued, and sonically, Providence is very much classic Miller: rich ambient tones with subtle undercurrents that allude to post-rock and glitchtronica, and on paper, it probably doesn’t sound all that remarkable – although perhaps what is remarkable is that worrriedaboutstan started carving this nice back in 2006, before it became commonplace, making was trailblazers the world has gradually caught up with.

‘Stück Für Stück’ shimmers, rippling notes cascading delicately down like droplets of spring rain while a subdued, almost subliminal beat and bassline pule in the background, and ‘Für Immer’ finds Miller return to German for the track’s title – and perhaps some clues as to the narrative lie in the titles of the tracks. ‘Für Immer’ shares no obvious connections to the 1982 DAF album of the same title, but perhaps hints at the sense of eternity that pervades Miller’s work, not least of all as reflected in the name of his label, This is it Forever. It may be creative reading, it may be the enactment of reception theory or even projection on my part, but some of the track’s resonance lies in the sense that the soft ambience, directionless, lacking overt form, encapsulates the drifting emptiness of this span of disconnection, of aimlessness, of there being no end in sight, and the weak, powerless, listless, feeling is engenders, a sense reinforced by ‘On Your Own’, and all of the connotations of isolation and loneliness it carries.

Waves washing onto the shore splash through soft chimes on the short interlude that is ‘Everything is Fine’ (which I can’t help as read by turns as sarcastic and self-affirmation, but neither of which suggest that things truly are fine), while ‘Stop Calling My Phone’ is its antithetical scenario, and it’s a jabbing, petulant synth that dominates this track All or nothing: the desolate silence, or the bombardment of contact are both equally difficult to manage, and there rarely seems to be a happy medium.

If the nine-minute trance-inducing haze of ‘Stórar Franskar’ articulates the expansive drift of time and that sea of emptiness, then closer ‘Just to Feel Something’ is perhaps the companion to ‘Everything is Fine’, in that the numbness manifests as façade. Because everything is so empty, and so numb, and so absent, it’s difficult to retain focus, a sense of space, a sense of perspective.

Providence is the perfect soundtrack to those protracted spells of ponderance, that discomfort and dissatisfaction, the introspective reflection and self-doubt. It stands as a magnificent blank canvas into which to project and reflect. It’s also another strong addition to the worriedaboutsatan catalogue.

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The press email landed with the leader: ‘UK based, anti-facist black metallers Underdark have announced details on their debut album  Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry which is set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).’

In a  time where the outgoing US president identified antifa as ‘the enemy’, we here at Aural Aggro are proud to back and provide coverage to any act with an expressly anti-fascist agenda – although it does also help if they produce good noise, and Underdark most definitely do.

After forming in 2015, Nottingham based black metallers Underdark are finally ready to present their debut album to the world. Following their recent ‘Plainsong​/With Bruised & Bloodied Feet’ single release in 2020, ‘Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry’ is the sound of a new chapter of Underdark, set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).

While still utilising a dreamlike and heavy mixture of black-metal, post-metal and shoegaze, Underdark’s debut album also packs a renewed punch alongside a ferocity and intensity matched only by the innovative and engaging song structures.

Recorded & mixed with Misha Herring at Holy Mountain Studio (40 Watt Sun, Inhuman Nature, Idles, Spiritualised, Puppy) & mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering (Emma Ruth Rundle, Southern Lord Records, Power Trip, Mizmor), the album captures five tracks of intense & emotional progressive compositions, not limited by genre to create a tidal wave of sound; that shift in emotions, drowning you between sections of crushing blast beats and ear splitting vocals to blissful, atmospheric soundscapes that engulf you within them.

On first single ‘Coyotes’ vocalist Abi comments,

“THE ALBUM IS READY. You thought we were dead. At times, we thought we might be too, but we’re here, we’re (mostly) alive, and this is  COYOTES. It’s one of the first songs I wrote in Underdark and it’s about the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Mexico/US border. Hope you’re as stoked on it as we are.”

Listen to ‘Coyotes’ here:

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Lamour Records / Purlieu Recordings

Christopher Nosnibor

Spending most evenings immersing myself in an array of weird and wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful noise, this album came as a real surprise. The accompanying text does little to prepare the listener for such a gentle and exquisite collection of cinematic neoclassical compositions.

And yet the liner notes are precisely why Transformation is surprising, because all is not as it seems, explaining that ‘The album Transformation challenges the boundaries of human and machine, the physical and the artificial, the feasible and the impossible. The result is a thoughtful and true emotional storm where the piano forms the basis for an opposite pole between sound and playing technique. When the sound is real, it is played with inhuman technology. When played by hand, the sound moves outside the spectrum of the physical piano. What role does "lying" play for the listener?’ And what exactly are we listening to here?

It’s impossible to distinguish organs and organic sounds from synthesised or sampled approximations, and while the human / inhuman / orchestral /electronic sounds are impossible to distinguish – is that piano, performed by a musician with a real passion and a deep sense of drama, creating rippling waves of notes, or is it all so much programming? Listening to ‘Skeppsrå’, it sounds real. It feels real. I want it to be real. Can I therefore simply not believe that it’s real and accept it?

It’s not quite as straightforward as that. Once you’re aware of something, it’s impossible to erase that awareness. You want to feel as though you’re tapping into something real, otherwise it’s just muzak, film music made to fill a space and manipulate an emotional response to what may otherwise be a blandly-shot scene.

‘Tradition’ sounds like the product of synthesised sounds, while the brooding sonorous atmospherics of ‘Mekanik’ are simply other-worldly, while ‘Skogsrå’ is another magnificently supple slice of post-rock flavoured ambience that swirls and soars towards the stratosphere.

There’s no questioning that the elegiac solo piano piece, ‘Artikulation’ a beautifully poised piece, understated yet rich and immersive, and likewise ‘Klinga’ which follows. But are those ‘wrong’ notes simply artifice? Are they programmed in to create ‘imperfections’ in order to create a sense of humanity and therefore a greater ‘trust’ in the machine? Or is this an example of an openness about human error? I’m not convinced: why would any musician play to highlight their flaws? But this is the challenge and the dilemma: what and who do you trust?

Trust nothing and trust no-one: but do trust me when I say that Transformation is a fascinating and most listenable work.

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Anna von Hausswolff presents an immersive new video for "Dolore di Orsini." The track appears on the latest album All Thoughts Fly, out now on Southern Lord. 

The breathtaking new video for "Dolore di Orsini" was directed by Ludvig Holtenäs and Gustaf Holtenäs, with animation effects by Mathias Söderberg.

Anna von Hausswolff writes, "’Dolore di Orsini’ is a song about profound sadness and finding freedom in grief. It’s inspired by the idea that Pier Orsini, a wealthy patron of arts, created the garden Sacro Bosco as a way to cope with grief and loss after losing his wife, Giulia Farnese. I look at the park as a symbol for love where love is an incitement for chaos and harmony. The video depicts Mr. Orsini burying his wife, the passing of time in nature, and sculptures taking shape and being set up by the help of a spirit. A movement forwards whilst looking backwards."

Watch the video here:

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Photo credit: Gianluca Grasselli

Panurus Productions – 4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Although August is the peak of the British summer, its end often seems to mark a sharp shift into Autumn; less a transition than a rapid cut. It’s a trick of the mind and a distortion of memory, of course, but summers always seemed longer and hotter in childhood; the realisation that what once felt like an infinite expanse of time which was free to fill or squander at will is, in fact, but a heartbeat in a life is a source of deep anguish. There is never enough time. No-one ever lay on their death-bed lamenting that they wished they’d spent more time watching repeats of Bargain Hunt or Homes Under the Hammer or whatever, no-one complains that they read to many books or spent too much time living their life, do they? The torment of a constant awareness of the passage of time is self-sabotaging, as the paralysis of panic grips hard. And pitched as ‘a screaming elegy for lost moments and isolation’, this is precisely what Centuries of August, which takes its title from a line from a poem by the solitary and reclusive Emily Dickinson, articulates.

If everything seems to be dominated by themes of isolation and derangement in 2020, then perhaps that’s because the magnitude of the events – or non-events – we’re living though exit on a scale that is truly all-consuming. Even the most introverted and reclusive are finding the isolation difficult to deal with: there’s a world of difference from choosing not to go out and see people, and not having the choice, especially as for many, music events provide a safe space where it’s possible to feel included and among people without the need for the kind of forced interaction that’s part and parcel of the workplace, and where it’s possible to experience a sense of community and collectivism without conforming to the less comfortable social conventions.

2020 has revealed new shades of darkness, and Centuries of August expresses anxiety, panic, rage, fear, isolation, in every one of those shades – as long as it’s black.

It’s a low, ominous synth drone that brings fear chords like creeping mist in a graveyard that marks the stealthy arrival of ‘Ripe for Solitude, Exhausted by Life’ – before all hues of murky black metal hell break loose. It’s a thunderous tempest of the darkest, densest noise, pounding hard and fast, before eventually dissipating once more into to quiet clouds of synth.

‘The Breezes Bought by Dejected Lutes’ is by no means the Elizabethan romantic piece the title suggests, but a savage blast of bleak and brutal mid-range sludge. There are drums, guitars, and vocals in the mix somewhere, but everything is a grimy blur and it’s impossible to identify anything distinctly.

Quavering dark ambience cast shadowy shades of gloom over the opening moments of ‘This Lamentable Autumn’; a picked lead guitar line adds a rich, brooding atmosphere, and then there’s everything else, coughed up from the very bowels of hell, a swirling sonic fog that goes beyond pea soup to the consistency of treacle, and wading through the barren soundscape for sic and a half minutes almost precisely recreates the experience of the last eight months in sound, before eight-minute closer ‘Under the Lowering Sky’ bulldozes in with cranium-crushing density.

That Centuries of August takes the lo-fi production values of the genre to its more extreme limits is integral to its appeal: the fact it’s so murky as to border on the frustrating is a source of power here, accentuating the oppressive density of the compositions to a level of intensity that hurts. But it’s the kind of pain that’s the perfect mirror, reflecting the conflicting nature of time, amplified by the anguish of living in the now.

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Wardruna today share the title track, and pinnacle moment of their upcoming album, Kvitravn (meaning White Raven). A music video produced by Ragnarok Films reveals a powerful narrative centred around this sacred, elusive creature, and namesake of the album.

Dramatic scenery unfolds from a bird’s eye perspective, and enchanting images of this rare animal are captured, as we follow Wardruna founder Einar Selvik and vocalist Lindy Fay-Hella through the wilderness. As the video unfolds, a question arises, is this sighting only good fortune, or is it destiny?

About the song "Kvitravn", Wardruna founder Einar Selvik states, “I am very excited to finally share this song with you. “Kvitravn” is a song that explores traditions of animal-guides and the symbolism and legends of sacred white animals found in Nordic- and other cultures all over the world. These highly regarded ghostly creatures, whether a raven, snake, bear, moose, reindeer, elephant or lion – are in animist traditions seen as prophetic, divine messengers, and guardians representing renewal, purity and a bridge between worlds.”

Einar Selvik continues, “Being fully aware of how rare it is to come across white ravens, we knew from the start that this would be an ambitious and challenging task to pull off. However, fate seemed to be on our side in this and the “impossible” piece of the puzzle fell into place as if gifted from the divine.“

Watch the spectacular video here:

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Emma Ruth Rundle (appearing courtesy of Sargent House) and Thou’s groundbreaking collaborative album, May Our Chambers Be Full sees its release October 30th via Sacred Bones. While their solo material seems on its face to be quite disparate, both prolific groups have spent their lauded careers lurking at the outer boundaries of heavy scenes, each having more in common with DIY punk and its spiritual successor, grunge.

The debut straddles a similar, very fine line both musically and thematically. While Emma’s standard fare is a blend of post-rock-infused folk music, and Thou is typically known for its downtuned, doomy sludge, the conjoining of the two artists has created a record more in the vein of the early ’90s Seattle sound and later ’90s episodes of Alternative Nation, while still retaining much of the artists’ core identities.

The visual art accompanying this work was created in collaboration with preeminent New Orleans photographer Craig Mulcahy. The faceless, genderless models are meant to emphasize this pervasive state of ambiguity and emotional vacillation, the images falling somewhere between modern high fashion and classical Renaissance.

Check the single here:

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Album Artwork | Photo By Craig Mulcahy

Santa Rosa-based alternative pop artist Darwin presents his new single ‘Unkind Lover’, which features David J (Love and Rockets, Bauhaus) on harmonica, Dustin Heald on guitar noise and ambience, and producer/collaborator Julian Shah-Tayler (a.k.a. The Singularity). 

Darwin (full name Darwin Meiners) makes alternative pop with a dark, electronic feel. While rooted in the 80s, his music straddles several genres simultaneously, assimilating new ideas, processes and instrumentation into his work.

A beautifully eerie tune, this was inspired by the writing of Dani Burlison (particularly ‘Shark Week’, which is included in her book of short stories ‘Some Places Worth Leaving’).  
‘I was asked to make the music for a spoken word video written by my friend, Dani Burlison.  She had recently released a book of short stories called ‘Some Places Worth Leaving’.  I love adding music to film and was especially moved given Dani’s talent.  The short story is called ‘Shark Week’ and features a character known only as the Unkind Lover.  When I saw the final video, it struck me that it would be exciting to develop the music into a song," says Darwin. 

After getting Dani’s permission, the first person I contacted was Julian Shah-Tayler and told him the plan.  It was an inspiring song to work on sonically, but also writing in character – which I’ve grown to love.  My friend Dustin Heald is a master at getting his guitar to make wonderful noise.  He was enlisted to do just that.  The final piece was the addition of David J (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets) on harmonica.  Having been in a band with him for many years (David J & The Gentleman Thieves), I had gotten used to the sound of that instrument and I knew he would be perfect to put that final touch on it."
This new offering follows Darwin’s latest single ‘Dance Alone’, a synthtastic explosion of energy attesting to the strength of human spirit with a fun self-isolation-inspired video directed by Linda Strawberry, featuring dance clips sent in by people sheltering in place. 

Watch the video here:

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Darwin - Unkind Lover (cover artwork)

17th August 2020 – Submarine Broadcasting Co

Christopher Nosnibor

According to the blurbage (I can’t claim to spend all that much time on research when my primary objective is to report a critical and sometimes emotional response to a release, and band and PR invest a lot of time in their explications, so why not?) ‘Hozro’, is a native American Dineh word that means living being conscious about the beauty, the magic and the mystery of the universe to which we belong.

I’ve been struggling to find much hozro myself in recent months, confined to a diminished space, rarely seeing or speaking to anyone outside my immediate household and inundated with reports of the shitshow that is western governments, so ,maybe I need this album right now.

Iyari describes it as post-rock, but threatens elements of folk and traditional music, avant garde and electronica, as performed by him and a while slew of guest musician, who all contribute

‘Eloher’, the first composition, is but an introduction, a path that leads the listener toward the body of sound that lies ahead, and it’s a wide-ranging and eclectic set, of which the title rack is representative. There’s a certain restraint in the echo-soaked lead guitar line that rings out over a low-key but insistent sting-damped strum.

Is it just me that instantly connects reverb and atmosphere? Is it the musical equivalent of an autosuggestive word association? Maybe, but Hozro brings all the atmosphere with its sparse arrangements.

There’s a magnificently moving vocal on ‘The Great Spirit’, and while it soars and quavers most movingly, there are undercurrents that intimate ancient folk traditions, and one suspects its this that taps into a deeper level of the psyche than the surface of the singing or the tune itself. ‘Islay’ may or may not be a musical homage to the Scottish island which is home to distillers of the finest single malts going, because Hozro is a pancultural melting-pot, and moreover, one which actually infuses the elements effortlessly. ‘Land of the Silver Shadows’ stands out, not by virtue of its difference, but the fact it encapsulates every magnificently understated aspect of the album within a softly-ripping six minutes.

Iyari clearly grasps the idea that less is more, and in bringing the volume and the detail and the level of demand on the listener down, Hozro brings more – much more, making it one to explore.

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Sige 071 – 31st July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Nordra is the vehicle by which Monika Khot, of Zen Mother, and a touring member of Daughters delivers ‘apocalyptic dirges combining modern classical explorations of electronic ambience with hardware-fueled industrial barrages’.

The press release explains the transition and difference between Pylon III and its predecessor, Pylon II: ‘Nordra’s second outing, the commissioned score for PYLON II, was a hard-edged martial exercise—fitting for the dystopian nature of the series’ second installment. But for PYLON III, Pester was looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and requested that Khot instill her work with hope and calm in order to serve the utopian aims of the performance’.

Hope and calm aren’t the initial senses I draw from listening to the ten compositions that comprise Pylon III. In fact, I find myself adrift, and also buffeted from one emotional moodspace to another. Lugubrious, haunting, and often eerie, unsettling, Pylon III is no relaxation tape by which to practise meditational breathing.

Stuttering beats, murky and muffled and rapid like machinegun fire bather hard against dense, slow-turning, ethereal drones, juxtaposing tension and tranquillity. The seven-minute ‘Monologue on the Beach’ is very much representative of the album as whole: piano notes ring out, sparse and lonely against eddying, undulating notes, particularly as it’s followed immediately by the booming drones of ‘Un-Hopeful’, the sonorous parp of a cruise liner’s horn sounding into a thick fog.

‘Reconciliation’ marches hard, a short, stabbing loop thumping insistently while dark serrated drones loom unexpectedly and seemingly at random, like sharks emerging from the depths. ‘Transcendence 1’ hints at something approximating conventional dance tropes, with its regular, pulsating beat that booms into a ocean of reverb as the bass builds. ‘Transcendence 2’ could well be off another album altogether as Nordra goes ‘rock’ – a chugging guitar plugs away at a couple of chords while drum twitches away nervously, and strong seep in with additional tension. It has hints of Swans about it in its density and its mesmeric insistence, and it makes for a compelling and hypnotic conclusion to an intriguing album.

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