Posts Tagged ‘Consouling Sounds’

Consouling Sounds – 5th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been five years since A Storm of Light graced us with Nation To Flames, released via Southern Lord. Anthroscene has a very different mood, and isn’t exactly a Southern Lord type of album. It’s still very much a metal album at heart, and still has the sharp, snarling throb of latter-day Ministry at its molten core – but on this outing, they’ve opened things up a way – without losing any of the fire.

Josh Graham’s take on the album is that “Anthroscene ignores genre and freely combines a lot of our early influences. Christian Death, The Cure, Discharge, Lard, Fugazi, Big Black, Ministry, Pailhead, Melvins, Pink Floyd, Killing Joke, NIN, Tool, etc. Where Nations to Flames was a very a focused sonic assault, this record has more time to breathe, yet still keeps the intensity intact. We allowed the songs to venture into new territory and push our personal boundaries. It’s heavy and intense, but always focuses on interwoven melodies, song structure and dynamic.”

It’s a slow build by way of a start: the six-minute-trudger that is ‘Prime Time’ is constructed around a stocky riff, choppy, chunky. The guitar overdriven and compressed, chops out a sound reminiscent of post-millennial Killing Joke. The vocals are more metal, and then it breaks into a descending powerchord sequence that’s more grunge. The overall feel, then, is very much late 90s and into the first decade of the noughties, and lyrically, we’re very much in the socio-political terrain of Killing Joke. Indeed, the shift in focus is as much about the album’s heart as its soul, as ASOL turn to face the world in all its madness and corruption and pick through the pieces of this fucked-up, impossible mess. It’s practically impossible not to be angry; it’s practically impossible not to feel angry, defeated.

‘Blackout’ grinds in with some big chuggage, and ‘Life Will be Violent’ is remarkably expansive as it howls through a barrage of percussion that blasts like heavy artillery for eight and a half minutes. There are no short songs here: Anthroscene is the post-millennial cousin of Killing Joke’s Pandemonium. Only, whereas Pandemonium was pitched as prophetic and prescient, Anthroscene is clawing its way through the wreckage that is the future now present. Yes, the damage is done, and we’re standing, looking into the rubble as the dust drifts across a barren wasteland. But we’re too busy on social media and with faces buried in smartphones and tablets to even contemplate what we’ve done, and our children, heading inexorably toward an existence bereft of meaning as they too bury their faces in smartphones and tablets and Netflix on the 50” flatscreen, have no idea.

But this is no by-numbers template-based regurgitation: Anthroscene is sincere, and original. The squalling guitars of ‘Short Term Feedback’ sizzle and squirm over a barrage of drums and throat-ripping vocals as A Storm of Light revisit industrial metal territory, tugging at Ministry and early Pitch Shifter by way of touchstones. Elsewhere, the lugubrious ‘Slow Motion Apocalypse’ fulfils the promise of the title, but perhaps with more emotional resonance than you might expect.

Anthroscene is harsh, but evokes steely industrial greyness in its dense, claustrophobic atmosphere. A challenging album for challenging times.

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Consouling Sounds – 10th November 2017

The cover art to Jozef Van Wissem’s latest album isn’t only intrinsically connected to the musical contents, but is essentially an explanation. The picture in questions is a contemporary vanitas painting by the Belgian artist Cindy Wright.

More common in the 16th and 17th centuries, vanitas are, according to the Tate, ‘closely related to memento mori still lifes which are artworks that remind the viewer of the shortnes (sic) and fragility of life (memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember you must die’) and include symbols such as skulls and extinguished candles’.

Like Wright’s drawing, Van Wissem’s music is of another time. And while any album on which the dominant instrument is the lute is inevitably going to evoke times long past, something about Nobody Living Can Ever Make Me Turn Back hints only in part at the Renaissance. Across the seven compositions, Van Wissem conjures a deep, almost occultic mysticism. Humming chorial swells and sparse drums beating like thunder, all enveloped in cavernous, sepulchral echoes.

Each piece is a response to the painting, entwining Biblical references into the titles by way of referencing the origin of the term ‘vanitas’ in the opening lines of the Book of Ecclesiastes: ‘Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’

Just as Wright’s work is exquisitely executed with a remarkable level of detail and craft, so the playing is rendered with an intense focus, but not so as to sound stiff or stilted: the notes flow elegantly. And while the overarching theme may be mortality, Nobody Living Can Ever Make Me Turn Back has an air of lightness and optimism about it, carrying in a sense of a celebration of life and hinting that what may follow may be brighter and more beautiful still.

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American artist and performer Jarboe and Italian occult duo Father Murphy will be touring together Europe this Autumn, promoting a collaborative EP out September 22nd on Consouling Sounds. Ahead of the release and impending tour, they’ve unveiled a trailer by way of a taster.

You can watch it here (tour dates are below):

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September

22 BE, Eeklo – N9

23 DE, Krefeld – Südbahnhof

24 DE, Berlin – Quasimodo

26 CZ, Brno – Kabinet Muz

27 CZ, Soulkostel – Soulkostel

28 PL, Poznan, LAS

29 PL, Torun – Klub NRD

30 PL, Gdansk – Smoke Over Dock II Festival at B90

October

1 PL, Warsaw – Distorted festival at Klub Hydrozagadka

2 PL, Lodz – Dom

4 LT, Riga – Gertrude Street Theater

5 RU, Moscow – 16 Tons

7 RU, St Petersburg – Place

10 SWE, Stockholm – Kraken

11 SWE, Karlstad – Tinvallakyrkan

12 NO, MOSS – House of Foundation

13 SWE, Gothenburg – Culture Night Festival at Goteborg Public Library

14 DK, Aarhus – Tape

16 CH, Basel – Unternehmen Mitte (Safe)

17 CH, Geneve – Cave 12

18 IT, Pistoia – Bruma Vol.III

19 CH, Busto Arsizio – Circolo Gagarin

20 FR, Lyon – Sonic

21 FR, Paris – Instants Chavirés

23 UK, London – St. Pancras Old church

24 UK, Leicester – The Musician

25 UK, Glasgow – Cottiers Church

26 UK, Preston – The Continental

28 BE, Bruxelles – Magasin 4

29 NL, Utrecht – Tivolivredenburg

November

2 PT, Lisbon – ZDB

3 PT, Porto – Understage

Consouling Sounds – 23rd June 2017

IIVII – pronounced ‘ivy’ as it so happens – is the musical vehicle for visual artist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Josh Graham. It’s actually quite fitting to the creeping ambience and gradually-expanding soundscapes which develop almost imperceptibly on Invasion. The bio bigs it up as being his ‘enigmatic inter-galactic solo project’, which focuses on ‘sonically engulfing and moody soundscapes, layered with a science-fiction edge.’

Graham has quite a resume: having worked as a designer and director, he has also collaborated with a variety of bands including Mastodon, Neurosis, Jesu, Shrinebuilder, ISIS and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

Invasion is pitched as a work which ‘traverses genre and explores elements of drone, classical, ambient, electronica, and vaporwave’, and it’s very much an album of tonal variety and texture, not to mention compositional and stylistic range – to the extent that sometimes one might wonder if the playlist has moved onto something else entirely.

Invasion is less a collection of individual pieces but a single set which forms an ever0shifting whole; from the lonely piano which echoes across the expansive atmospherics of ‘We Came Here from a Dying World’ through the creeping bassline and fear notes which hang hauntingly on ‘Unclouded by Conscience’, with its distant, rolling drum and post-rock intimations, and through the more overtly beat-driven.

There are extended minimalist moments, like the slow-pule hum which introduces ‘Hidden Inside’ to stark and chilling effect; the glitchy bass and glacial overtones do little to soften the icy bleakness of the funeral bells and amorphous sonic drifts which carry a chilly edge over the occasional bursts of subsonic thunder. Melodic arabesques rise from eddying pools of resonant bass hums and twirling contrails.

The tribal beats and throbbing synthesized bass, draped with icy synth notes, which define the dynamic drive of ‘No More Enemies’ call to mind Movement era New Order: it’s dark, detached, otherworldly, and corresponds with the album’s artwork, which depicts an invading species of alien origin (also completed by Graham, who, poignantly, served as Soundgarden’s art director at the time of the press release).

Nuanced has become one of those words, but there’s a rich detail and infinite texture to be found on Invasion that demands its application. This is an articulate, considered and meticulously-realised work which operates on multiple levels.

 

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Consouling Sounds – 28th April 2017

The follow-up to 2013’s You Stood Up for Victory, We Stood Up for Less sees the instrumental collective formed in 2011 expand in both number and vision. For his outing, founder and leader Richard Knox (The Rustle of the Stars, Shield Patterns, Glissando) is joined by a veritable host of collaborators: Aidan Baker (Nadja), Claire Brentnall (Shield Patterns), Angela Chan (Tomorrow We Sail. Lanterns on the Lake), Aaron Martin (F rom the Mouth of the Sun), David McLean (Gnod, Tombed Vision Records), Frédéric D. Oberland (The Rustle of the Stars, Oiseaux Tempête, FareWell Poetry, FOUDRE!), Owen Pegg (Hundred Year Old Man), Colin H. Van Eeckhout (Amenra, CHVE). And this is very much a collaborative work, which has resulted in an album which is rich in texture and tone, and marks a stylistic evolution from its predecessor. The album’s four extended, exploratory tracks are as expansive in sonic terms as they are in duration. While the drones and field recordings which characterise much of the output associated with Knox, The Gatherer incorporates myriad elements besides.

The first, ‘Colossus Survives’, gradually unfurls from a delicate, semi-nebulous sonic cloud drift into a wavering, teetering free jazz excursion, a saxophone being given a full tonal workout while in the distance, thick, deliberate beats crunch and rumble before everything drifts away to leave a ponderous piano.

‘Anodyne Nights for Somnabulent Strangers’ brings an altogether more ominous atmosphere, elongated drones scrape sonorously through a murky fog. But this, like the other pieces on The Gatherer, is a composition built on a continual shift. There are lighter notes, but they’re tinged with uncertainty and a sense of unease: indefinable, yet subliminally present. Slow and crawling as it is, the sound isn’t static for an instant, and the vicious argument which features around the twelve-minute mark is unsettling: the music is barely there, and not all of the words audible, and one feels as though one shouldn’t be overhearing it. But at the same time, you sit, ear cocked, to try to decipher what the shouting is about. It ends abruptly, and dolorous chimes ring out.

‘Jason Molina’s Blues’ approximates a deconstructed jazz over a slow, flickering rumble, and paves the way for the heavy, warping drone of ‘The Recapitulation’. Developing from a low, slow rumble and ominous echoes, saxophones and drones collide and intertwine to conjure a mystical sonic spot which exists between light and dark. A crashing beat echoes into infinity while Colin H. van Eeckhout delivers haunting, humming vocals: the words are barely audible but the effect borders on the spiritual as this voice hangs in a cavernous cave of reverb while strings drape themselves mournfully over the heavy air.

The Gatherer is by no means an easy or accessible album. But in its questing for new terrain, and its subtle sonic diversity, it’s an album which warrants time to embed.