Posts Tagged ‘EP’

Mark Sousa, the mastermind behind futurepop act, Voicecoil has just dropped the debut EP for his project, Gravity Corps.

“Gravity Corps is a different angle to what I do artistically.  It’s a more aggressive, angrier side of my mind.  It’s a more simplistic and raw presentation in its themes.” – Mark Sousa.

Zero Grav plays on various varied themes from track to track. ‘Thankful For Another Day’ is a simple statement of the same titled track. Tracks like ‘Selling Sorrow’ and ‘Cold And Elegant’ focus heavily on themes of artistic integrity and disassociation respectively. ‘Scarred To Death’ (the first piece written for the project) was inspired by dark science fiction.

Zero Grav is available now as a digital download via Bandcamp.

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7th December 2021

Crimson Brûlée emerged in 2019 as an offshoot of guitar-driven goths The Witch-Kings, after a difference of opinion over the incorporation of synths. No diss to The Witch-Kings, but Tragica presents a magnificent sound.

It’s a pretty awkward band name and so-so title for a great album, but there is context, at least for the latter, in that the EP is delivered in homage to the band’s original bassist, Johan, who passed away in early 2021.

He would likely have been proud. With Tragica Crimson Brûlée really nail their position as a top-notch goth act. It’s billed as an EP, but comes with a stack of remixes which bulks it uo to nine tracks, which is effectively an album or two EPs.

‘I Came Back to You’ is a strong opener, combining trad goth with the sound and feel of early Psychedelic Furs, packing minor chords and an insistent beat in the verses, that burst into something wonderful in the choruses. Light explodes and it feels redemptive. It could easily be a Talk Talk Talk outtake. The intro to ‘Nothing Dies Forever’ invites comparisons to She Wants Revenge: it’s dramatic, bold, bombastic, synth-led but driven by some meaty guitars, and absolutely fucking epic, and never lets up for its five-minute duration.

It’s the strolling bass that dominates ‘Restrained’, which is anything but in terms of its epicness. All bar one of the songs are over the five-minute mark, but ‘Where the Tarantulaa Roam’, extending beyond the six-minute mark, is an absolute beast, and one that calls to mind Susperia, only with swirling backing vocals reminiscent of All About Eve’s Julianne Reagan. With the synths backed off but sweeping all around, the mix is immense.

‘Why I Wear Black’ is more guitars, more SWR-like. Yet for all the references, this feels fresh and innovative: this is not an album that deals in tropes and the lyrics are personal and genuine rather than contrived.

It’s a really, really strong suite of songs, The remixes are pretty good, to be fair, but non-essential.

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I know, I know, poor form, etc., etc. But hey, it’s not every day this kind of thing happens.

…(something) ruined coalesced by happy accident as a live proposition. Like so many bands, lockdown hit our progress and development hard. The ‘white noise and shouting’ worked because of a combination of factors all in the moment – extreme volume, intuition, adrenaline, the consumption of alcohol. Replicating the vibe without those factors proved to be a challenge – but, when offered the platform of the FEAST online streaming events organised by the Nim Brut label during lockdown, it felt like an opportunity to develop a new way of working and to refine that sound in a more controlled setting. Trial and error led to the creation of noise first, vocals second, and over the course of several months, thing evolved, and …(something) ruined became something more, with not only a more defined sound, but a thematic focus lyrically.

E.P. is a cohesive document, but also a document of an evolution, and the tracks are presented in the chronology in which they were created, each first aired at a FEAST event.

‘Life Is Too Short’: small frustrations simmer and boil over when presented with the stark reality that you could die tomorrow and you’ve squandered the last 10 years your waking hours being nice and pandering to utter cunts.

‘On Mute’: anthem for remote workers around the globe as we’ve watched cretins babble away merrily on video calls while no-one can hear a single word – although, frustrating as it is, it’s usually better than hearing their words.

‘Harder, Not Smarter’: another corporate classic. Time and again management promote smart working, time-saving, and economy. But for all the words, there’s only whip-cracking ultimately.

‘On Brand’: brand isn’t just slogans and advertising. It’s an ethos. You don’t just work for a company, you are the company, a walking promotion. Live the brand.

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Southern Lord & DVL Recordings

12 June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Reviewing Record Store day releases feels a shade cruel in some respects. Since they pretty much all sell out within a couple of hours, with participating record stores looking like a cornfield stripped by locusts by 11am after hungry collectors and traders have queued round the block since dawn to buy up anything and everything they can get their hands on (more often as not nowadays to resell at massively inflated prices. But who do you blame for this? The system is screwed), reviewing any RDS release feels like a posturing gesture of ‘look what you could have won’. But some releases warrant a wider exposure, ad perhaps, ultimately, a wider release, and this is one of them.

Neon Christ formed in 1983 and having taken a break in 1986, they’ve been more or less dormant ever since, with their career’s recorded output consisting of just one eponymous ten-track EP released in Jube ’84 and an appearance on a compilation album: On Labor Day 1984, the band recorded four tracks in the home studio of Nick Jameson, of Foghat fame, and from this, ‘Ashes to Ashe’" was included on the International Peace/War compilation released by MDC’s R Radical Records.

Guitarist William DuVall wrote an album’s worth of songs in 1985, but only ‘Savior (Drawn In)’ was ever recorded in what would be the band’s final studio session on 26 December 1985 (the master tapes were lost).

And so 1984 contains everything committed to tape by Neon Christ which still survives (which was all recorded in 1984, bar the one 1985 track which doesn’t feature here – which is fair enough, as it sits outside the band’s one explosive year).

Side one features the original Neon Christ 7” EP, and side two contains the four songs of the Labor Day session.

These recordings are over thirty-five years old, but they’re still dynamite. The early-mid eighties really were the apogee of the hardcore punk scene, and it’s perhaps integral to that history that bands burned brightly and briefly. Scenes are rarely best represented by recorded output or longevity, but the immediate buzz. Anything left for posterity is a bonus, and 1984 is that bonus that documents the brief and explosive existence of Neon Christ.

That first EP is fiery, frenetic, and raw as hell. Of the ten tracks, only one breaks tr two-minute mark. It’s rough and ready, the production isn’t so much primitive as non-existent, ad everything really is played at a hundred miles an hour as they blast through back-to-back blasts of fury ass mere minute long each. They do go a bit mellow and indie at the start of their titular track, but in no time it’s hell for leather thrashing, and overall, the pace of this album is blistering.

The Labor Day EP is slower, denser, less primitive. The songs feel more realised, and I would say ‘more produced’ – but it’s all relative, since the production prior was truly zero. The vocals and playing are both still rough and ready and nothing on offer here could ever be described a slick or polished. This is proper hardcore and is more than merely a historical document.

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Christopher Nosnibor

The news just in is that ‘Electro-Industrial band MICROWAVED has just unleashed their new EP, Save Me’, and that ‘The EP contains 16 tracks, 14 of which will be available on streaming platforms June 12th. The Bandcamp release will contain two bonus tracks: a collaboration with LIEBCHEN on a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and an additional remix from the talented and outstanding remix artist Steven Olaf.’

The last I was aware, EP stood for Extended Play, and LP for Long Play, and sixteen tracks is pretty bloody long (unless it’s grindcore, when 16 tracks would likely have a running time of about ten minutes). No matter: I’m being picky (for a change), and they’ve released the title track as a lead single, and it features Kimberley Kornmeier of electrogoth act Bow Ever Down.

‘Save Me’ is a brooding blur – the agitated, fast-paced percussion that pounds and stutters like a palpating heart contrasts with the deep, broad, sweeping synths and a gloomily wistful melody which leans heavily on The Cure’s ‘Pictures of You’. The contrasts work, despite being quite difficult to reconcile on the first listen or two. There’s also a subtle but definite harder industrial edge to it, and it makes for a bold yet sensitive song which reminds us that beneath exteriors, so many of us hold on to pain and suffering and loneliness, and that to feel lonely and to be alone are not the same thing.

It’s when it takes a step away from itself around the three-minute mark and there’s a brief segment that sounds more like Eminem that’s hardest to assimilate in the overall shape of the song. It may be incongruous, but at least you could never describe the song as being predictable, and ‘Save Me’ is pretty damn powerful on multiple levels.

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Six months on from landing the video for ‘The Geneticist’, Vexillary unveil the video for the SPANKTHENUN Remix of the track as the leader for a remix EP.

‘The Geneticist’ was so rich in context and musical raw material that a sequel had to follow. This time, 3 different electronic scientists, Andy Martin, Signal Deluxe, and SPANKTHENUN re-engineered the track like geneticists manipulating genetic code to reach their desired outcomes. Tempos were augmented, beats were mutated, and new basslines were spawned, to unleash a whole new beast – The Geneticist Remixes.

It’s pretty intense, uncomfortable, and gnarly, and you can check the video here:

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Houndstooth Records – 22nd January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Transmogrifications’ features a brace of compositions by Guy Andrews reworked, reimagined, decomposed – spin it whichever way – by seminal experimental musician Kevin Drumm, with one from Permanence (which was released in September) and another from his latest, [MT][NT][ET]. Back in the day, this would have been a 12” single, or a CD single / EP. Now, it’s simply a release. Part of me feels that the devolvement – and dissolvement – of the physical format is sad not because of plain nostalgia, but because of the way it’s altered our relationship with music. The release of new music, when it required actually going into town to purchase it, arriving home with a sense of excitement and anticipation to hear something that had required not only the effort of the journey, but the outlay of actual cash, meant that there was an element of deliberation involved in each purchase: you’ve got a tenner (and there was a time not SO long ago when that would likely get you three new 12” singles at £2.99 – £3.50 apiece), and dropping the needle on each was an actual event. The loss of that sense of occasion, that event, is significant, and one that struck me unexpectedly on hearing this. As excited as I was to hear it, the joy was tempered by a certain pang of loss.

Drumm explains the remit he was given, which directed his approach to the project, recounting that “Guy essentially said that he’d rather not hear his own music played back to him…So with that in mind, it freed me up to drastically transform his material…it was a good experience taking something that is quite different than what I usually get up to and turn it into something different than what it is in its original form.” And the title says it all, really: ‘transmogrification’ is defined as the process of complete and usually extreme or grotesque change from one state or form to another.

Each track is an entire album, compressed, condensed, and generally reworked and altered beyond recognition.

And so it is that ‘[MT][NT][ET]’ is seven-and-three-quarter minutes of deep, swirling ambience, a deep mass of sound that eddies and drifts with a drilling metallic edge giving it a slightly uncomfortable sharpness. While it’s a more or less even drone, there are occasional – subtle – dips and twists that add to the understated but quite definite tension. And yet for all that, there is an overall sense of calm, a smoothness, until near the end, when its rich, space-like tranquillity is devasted by a rising blast of extraneous noise.

‘Permanence’ offers a different kind of experience, it’s more deeply textured, and a slower, lower simmering fermentation of sound. It also boils the thirty-two minute album down to eight minutes of overlapping sonic layers. Glistering shards of feedback are worn smooth in a soft wash of pink noise and an undulating amorphous cloud of noise, beneath which a grating sonic wreckage churns at such distance as to be almost subliminal.

And then it stops. Just like that. The abrupt nature of the ending is of note, accentuating the silence that follows immediately, and giving a tangible pause for thought on a release that has a lot more depth than the surface first suggests.

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MC/free iOS app Langham Research Centre LRC001

7th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

My last encounter with Langham Research Centre was 2017’s Tape Works Vol 1, an experimental set that evoked the spirit of William Burroughs while also being littered with references to JG Ballard which inevitably piqued my interest. However, on the arrival of Quanta / Signal / Noise, I discover that both a remix of Tape Works Vol 1 as well as Tics and Ampersands and the spectacularly mundane yet dauntingly postmodern-sounding Gateshead Multi-storey Car Park, both released in 2018 had bypassed me.

Quanta / Signal / Noise, a work in four parts seems to offer a fair – and welcome – point at which to reconvene with Langham Research Centre. the press release forewarns of ‘a shift away from the conventional building blocks of music: notes and harmony and rhythms that are mapped onto a grid of steady pulse. Instead, the focus is on a fascination with sound itself; with its unfolding textures, shapes, energies and dynamics’. So far, so much standard avant-garde / experimental fare.

The release contains four tracks, in the form of versions 1 to 4 of ‘Quanta / Signal / Noise’, each of which has a duration of four minutes and thirty-four seconds, two of which were composed by Iain Chambers, and two of which were composed by Robert Worby. ‘Version’ is a misnomer: none of the pieces bear any real resemblance to one another, ranging from heavy discordant clunks and thunks to fizzing circuitry and erratic bleepery, with woozy atmospherics, warped chatter of multiple simultaneous conversations and deep, dark, ominous undercurrents. Explosions shattering plate glass windows behind real-time running documentaries collide simultaneously with birdsong and erratic levels of volume. It’s an interesting sonic collage, but, one might say, largely of its type.

But there’s more to this than immediately meets the ear, as in addition to the standard audio release, there’s an iOS app, ‘Langham Research Centre variPlay: Quanta / Signal / Noise’, produced and developed in collaboration with London College of Music at the University of West London, which presents an interactive version of the release. The pitch is that it may be thought of as ‘experimental cinema for the ear or maybe a tool for dynamic sound painting [which] follows in the musical tradition established by composers, specifically in the middle of the 20th century, when sound recording became widely available… In the app version, by playing with these sonic materials, imaginary auditory landscapes may be created. Sonic narratives, with expressive moods, unfold before the ears and mobile, fluid sound canvases can be brushed and sketched and collaged.’

Such interactivity may not be wholly new, but still, to break the third wall in such a way becomes rare, and inviting the audience to become the artist radically alters the dynamic of the relationship not only between the artist and audience, but also audience and material. The material ceases to be something the audience ‘receives’, but instead repositions the audience as part of the art ad its creation. That breaking down of boundaries utterly transforms the experience of reception. It is quite possible that the concept is more exciting than the reality, but then, playing about with sound can be great fun. Unfortunately, the app only appears to be available for Apple / iPhone users, so I’m unable to confirm or comment either way.

The app version stands in extreme contrast to the physical release, on cassette, a format that was on the brink of obsolescence over twenty years ago, and yet is still going, albeit with a microniche market. The chances are half the interaction with the format involves a hexagonal pencil or a Bic biro.

Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing exercise to witness the evolution of interactive art that strives to question and to redefine the role or artist and audience, as well as the notion of the ‘finished’ or definitive artefact, making this more than just something to listen to, even if only conceptually and for a certain portion of the audience.

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After announcing the release of his second EP titled "Continued Survival", the Italian-born electronica musician and producer Souvlaki unveils another piece of this new work, which was preceded by the single “7LUNGS” (featuring Slim Gong) at the beginning of November.

“Isolation” features Deborah Grandi on vocals and is presented with a stop motion video directed by Souvlaki himself, along with Carlo Rodella and Nicola Nolli.

The musician comments: "This is the first song I started working on for this new EP, the one that set the whole songwriting process in motion. Deborah’s vocal lines were written almost on the spot, we found them when we first listened to the base in the practice room and they immediately seemed to work well in the song.

The lyrics match the story of the video, the central theme is people’s incommunicability, and the song title seems to sum it up quite well.
I have to admit that I struggled to finish the arrangements of “Isolation”, but I perceived its great potential right away and I didn’t want to set it aside. Thanks to Simone Piccinelli, who contributed to the production of the EP, I got to find the balance between all the elements in this song.

I am satisfied with the outcome and I hope listeners will appreciate it too; personally, I like the atmosphere it evokes, that slightly “retro” touch; it plays along within a mix between darkness and positive feelings."

The EP "Continued Survival", produced by Souvlaki and Simone Piccinelli at La Buca Recording Club and mastered at Woodpecker Mastering will contain 6 tracks, including the single "Isolation" and the previously released single "7LUNGS" and will be available on all main digital platforms starting January 15th.

Watch the video here:

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