Posts Tagged ‘Expansive’

Experimental metal group Imperial Triumphant release their new track and music video for ‘Tower of Glory,  City of Shame.’ The music video was directed and edited by the band’s very own Steve Blanco.

“Monolithic events engineered throughout the ages compel great shifts in consciousness. Seemingly coincidental and synchronous points forever alter the landscape. Pigeons gather one by one. Civilization moves through the gateways and in hindsight the obscured vision becomes clearer. Still unknown, however is the truth as all is an illusion with much loss of life and zero accountability. At a certain point there are too many pigeons for the control’s infantile stories to be what they claim,” states Imperial Triumphant about ‘Tower of Glory, City of Shame’.

Watch the video here:

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Imperial Triumphant is gearing up to release their forthcoming full-length album, Spirit of Ecstasy, on July 22nd via Century Media Records. The band have already released two singles off the upcoming album, ‘Merkurius Gilded’ (ft. Kenny G and Max Gorelick) and ‘Maximalist Scream’ (feat. Snake/Voivod).

Spirit of Ecstasy follows the band’s previous LPs 2020’s Alphaville, 2018’s Vile Luxury and most recently their 2021 live record, An Evening With Imperial Triumphant, which was recorded at the infamous Slipper Room in New York City. Just like its predecessors, the album features a handful of special guests including Kenny G on soprano saxophone, Max Gorelick on lead guitar, Snake on vocals, Alex Skolnick on lead guitar, Trey Spruance on lead guitar, Andromeda Anarchia with choirs, Sarai Woods with choirs, Yoshiko Ohara on vocals, J. Walter Hawkes on the  trombone, Ben Hankle on the trumpet, Percy Jones on bass, SEVEN)SUNS on strings, Colin Marston on Simmons drums and Youtube, and Jonas Rolef on vocals. Stay tuned for more details about the highly anticipated release by following the band on socials.

Imperial Triumphant is Zachary Ilya Ezrin (vocals, guitars), Steve Blanco (bass, vocals, keys, theremin) and Kenny Grohowski (drums).

Recently, Imperial Triumphant announced that they will be joining Zeal & Ardor for their North American tour 2022. The band will be hitting the road starting September 11th in Brooklyn and wrapping on October 7th in Berkeley. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Imperial Triumphant’s website.

IMPERIAL TRUMPHANT Tour Dates:

U.S. Headline Shows

July 29 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar

July 30 – Youngstown, OH – Into the Darkness Fest

July 31 – Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall

European Headline Dates/Festivals

August 10 – Jaroměř, Czechia – Brutal Assault

August 12 – Oxfordshire, England – SUPERNORMAL FEST

August 13 – Manchester, England – The White Hotel

August 14 – Glasgow, Scotland – Stereo

August 15 – Belfast, England – Voodoo

August 16 – Dublin, Ireland – The Grand Social

August 18 – Somerset, England – ArcTanGent Festival

August 19 – London, England – The Dome

August 20 – Méan, Belgium – MÉTAL MÉAN

August 21 – Brittany, France – MOTOCULTER

August 23 – Madrid, Spain – Moby Dick

August 24 – Barcelona, Spain – Sala Upload

August 25 – Toulon, France – L’Hélice

August 26 – Mantova, Italy – The Academy

August 27 – Winterthur, Switzerland – Gaswerk

August 28 – Strasbourg, France – La Maison Bleue

August 29 – Nijmegen, Netherlands – Merleyn

August 30 – Hamburg, Germany – Hafenklang

August 31 – Aalborg, Denmark – 1000 Fryd

September 1 – Oslo, Norway – Bla

September 2 – Goteborg, Sweden – Fangelset

September 3 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Hotel Cecil

September 8 – Leipzig, Germany – Bandhaus

September 9 – Tel Aviv, Israel – Gagarin

Zeal & Ardor North American Tour

September 11 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw

September 12 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts

September 13 – Cambridge, MA – The Middle East

September 15 – Montreal, QC – LE Studio TD

September 16 – Toronto, ON – Opera House

September 18 – Detroit, MI – El Club

September 19 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge

September 20 – Minneapolis, MN – Turf Club

September 23 – Calgary, AB – Dickens

September 24 – Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room

September 26 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre

September 27 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile

September 28 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre

October 1 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater

October 3 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom

October 4 – San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick

October 5 – Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex

October 7 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone

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Venus Principle are premiering the melancholic and powerful new track ‘Drag Nets’ as the final single taken from the dark psychedelic rocker’s debut full-length Stand in Your Light, which has been scheduled for release on May 27.

‘Drag Nets’ makes subtle use of a wide range of instrumentation from sax to mellotron vibes and Mini Moog, and the stunning vocal chemistry between Daisy Chapman and Daniel Änghede comes into play again as well.

The band comment: “After the initial recording sessions for Stand in Your Light were postponed, we had a chance to write a few more songs”, guitarist Jonas Stålhammar tells. “The last one written was ‘Drag Nets’. It turned out to be by far the heaviest track on the album. ‘Drag Nets’ represents the waste and rejects of man. You can trawl the sea for food and treasure, but humankind will always carelessly discard all unwanted matter only for it to be rediscovered as flotsam and jetsam. The idea of adding saxophone was a last minute thought in the studio when I reached the conclusion that we had too many guitar solos on the album already. Our amazing guest on the saxophone, August Eriksson, copied my guitar solo note for note and then added some improvised sprinkles.”

Listen to ‘Drag Nets’ here:

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Eight Bells have revealed the dark melancholic video single ‘The Well’ taken from their forthcoming new album Legacy of Ruin, which is scheduled for release on February 25, 2022.

The avant-garde doom project from Portland, Oregon conceived by guitarist and singer Melynda Jackson has previously revealed cover art, tracklist, and further details of their new full-length. Watch the video here:

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“This song’s story is particularly personal for me”, explains singer and guitarist Melynda Jackson. “It explores the emotions and fears of pastoral ‘salt of the earth types’ looking over the land that no longer yields a good harvest as a metaphor describing their lives. Mourning the bountiful past and coming to realize that they themselves are responsible for a bleak future. Melynda Amann, who was a member during the writing of this track, is also singing with us, while  Andrea Morgan adds haunting ambience with his violin.”

With their third album, the Portland metal experimentalists have sharpened their songwriting approach to create a soundtrack for the end of the world. Legacy of Ruin again features the trio’s trademark haunting vocal harmonies along with sometimes blistering, and sometimes impressionistic guitar riffing to create heady atmospheres of dark and light. 

The result of Eight Bells’ musical exploration is an emotional and insistent odyssey that transcends genre and imbues contemporary metal with 19th-century Victorian ghostliness, cinematic soundscapes in combination with female and male vocal harmonies perfectly fitting the album’s lyrical story. "Legacy of Ruin" focuses on themes of the human condition, natural destruction, death, regret, loss, malice, and retribution.

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Pic: Cody Keto

4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Nordic Giants are one of those acts who seem to exist almost mythically. Listening to their recordings, watching their visuals, even witnessing their live shows, does little to render them any more concrete or real. The duo go by the names Loki and Rôka, but beyond that, we know nothing. That they have managed to remain so shrouded in mystery is a remarkable achievement, especially in the Internet age. In doing so, they remind us of so much of what is missing in contemporary culture. Celebrities used to be distanced, unobtainable, out of reach, while underground acts were entirely obscure. It was possible to control the limits of what was in the public domain, by means of mailed or faxed press releases. Any kind of presence was optional, as radio play and word of mouth did the job of promotion. Times have changed, expectations have changed, and not necessarily for the better. Artists are expected to be so much more public now, buy to what benefit, ultimately?

Kudos, then, to Nordic Giants for being Nordic Giants, and doing what they do on their own terms. Symbiosis follows their debut album, A Sèance of Dark Delusions (2015) and their documentary / soundtrack project, Amplify Human Vibration (2017), and as such, it’s been a fair time in coming. So much so, that one worries how things will stand up in a contemporary context. A fair few bands making their post-lockdown return haven’t fared so well, largely because they still sound like their old selves – and times have changed, life had moved on. There may be nostalgia for the old times., but… we don’t need to relive the past times. This is not the early 00’s heyday of post-rock.

But Nordic Giants exist in their open space, and their own time.

According to the accompanying blurb, ‘Symbiosis represents the interdependent relationship of all life. The union and blending of polar opposites, the harmony created when two different elements combine, not just in nature or in a philosophical sense, but at the root creative level… This collection of songs blends light with dark, moments of ambience with power and the subtle with the mysterious – themes that Nordic Giants continue to experiment with extensively over the years.’

The first track, ‘Philosophy of Mind’ comprises many features typical to Nordic Giants: heraldic horns, vocal samples, resonant bass and rolling drums, depth, layers, atmosphere. It’s a mesmerising piece, spacious, moody. Rene Descartes’ famed quote (in translation) ‘I think, therefore I am’ echoes over the lilting piano, ahead of a roiling crescendo, and the closing couple of minutes grow in tension And scale. This is classic Nordic Giants, and the album progresses neatly from here. It may not present may serious surprises, but it does present a succession of immaculately-conceived and perfectly executed compositions, from the driving ‘Anamorphia’ to the supple, subtle melody of ‘Hjem’.

The featuring of guest vocalists – Alex Hedley on the expansive ‘Faceless’ and Freyja on ‘Spheres’, with its delicate, poised atmosphere and cinematic sound – add to the diversity of sound and also the stylistic range of Symbiosis, an album that really reaches deep into the emotional space. It’s lusciously-produced, but at the same time poignant, and you ache on hearing the soaring strings and the nagging piano trills. There are moments of ambience, of mind-sprawling semi-ambience, and of absolute magnificence.

Symbiosis is dateless, ageless, marvellous.

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11th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Curse my brain. It’s so unhelpful at times. When Tim Hann – aka break_fold – emailed me his new single release, I managed to misread ‘Welwala’ as ‘Welawala’, and immediately my mental jukebox struck up ‘Summer Nights’ from Grease. ‘Tell me more’, you say?

Uh-huh, ok. Having recently connected with analog horizons, with whom this is his second release ahead of the fourth break_fold album, scheduled for release towards the end of 2022, Tim’s been gaining traction with support for previous singles ‘Meanwhile.. Up in Trump Tower’ and ‘Variant’ from BBC 6 Music DJs Gideon Coe and Steve Lamacq.

As is common for Hann, it’s a TV series that in part inspired the composition: on this occasion, it’s the sci-fi show The Expanse as well as Blanck Mass’ Calm with Horses film soundtrack (as far back as the debut album by I Concur, Hann was drawing on The Wire among his wide-ranging sources).

Gary Numan-esque synths and that crisp crack of a vintage drum machine snare sound. Beneath the bold strikes builds first a later of bass, then a bubbling synth loop, and then the drums kick up a notch and beat harder. As the elements layer up, the track takes on new depths and grows in intensity. The dropdown is perfectly timed, and from there it builds again. Compositionally it’s magnificent, and there’s a lot of action and dynamic work packed into three-and-a-half minutes. It’s tight, and the production is poised, just-so, and it all comes together with a precision that at the same time feels intuitive, and it’s that intuition that really gives it some force as it pushes the listener along in its swelling current.

As the press release explains, ‘Welwala is about seeing something from two different points of view. It is structured around two contrasting synth lines with focus shifting between them, evoking both optimism and threat. These are layered with an insistent drum track in a sequence that hints at narrative evolution.’ So, a bit like ‘Summer Nights’ then. I mean, ok, not musically, but my misread was right about the telling the story from two different perspectives, right? Right?

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Cruel Nature Records – 29th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something magnificent about the naming of Oli Heffernan’s project Ivan the Tolerable. It not only places a charming spin on history, neutralising and disarming the fearsome image of ‘the terrible’ with a superbly balanced piece of bathos, but it’s also so very quintessentially English. It’s the weak smile, the stiff upper lip… it’s not terrible. It’s not good either. It’s, you know, tolerable. No-one died. Or only a few people, it could be worse.

Autodidact II is the follow-up to 2018’s Autodidact, separated not only by three tears abut about a dozen releases. Heffernan is nothing if not prolific, and equally, nothing if not diverse.

This fifteen-track behemoth opens with the fifteen-minute ‘Turkish Golden Scissors (Part I) – there are two subsequent, shorter parts, situated strategically about the album. It’s a meandering progressive piece with pseudo-mystical Eastern leanings, a trippy, psychedelic jazz experience that’s utterly baked, man. There’s a trilling keyboard swirling and twirling around in the midst of the sonic sandstorm, and it’s like a collision between a deconstructed Doors track performed by The Necks.

‘Red Throated Diver’, which is centred around acoustic guitar playing a looping, cyclical motif in the style of Michael Gira, paired with some ominous and atmospheric brass and rippling synths, and clocking in at a fraction over two minutes, is a contrast in every way.

The album’s title is perhaps something of a clue to the form, presenting Heffernan as the self-taught experimentalist finding his way as he navigates the sounds in his head and working through ideas and concepts, and Autodiadact II is big on the expansive, rippling Krautrock noodling, with bubbling analogue synth sounds and trilling tones weaving over lower-end oscillations and grind and lay a gurgling, churning bedrock.

Notes chime into space amidst crackling samples and reverberations that connote space voyages – and ultimately being lost in space. It’s appropriate, as Autodidact II is not an album of focus, butt a work that wanders with or without direction in search of… well, what it’s in search if isn’t entirely clear. Not that it matters. The album started life as three separate recording sessions in July and August 2021 as work for a soundtrack to a series of films about psychogeography and North Yorkshire folklore, and as such, if the expanses of North Yorkshire, the moors and beyond, are buried in a sonic fog of otherness, the psychogeographical element reminds us that the end is not the end: it’s all about the journey. And Autodiadact II, while springing numerous surprises and drifting in and out of an array of varied sonic spaces, leads the listener on a unique, if uncertain journey.

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Mongkong Music – mkng-01

Digital release date: 4th June 2021 / Physical release date: 4th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Having been introduced to the world of microtonal experimentation around a decade ago, I’ve found a certain fascination in those close lenses on the most minute of details – the musical equivalent of peering through a microscope and seeing objects and life forms on a granular, even cellular level. I’ve also learned that anything that can be rendered or viewed from a micro level, it’s probably been done, or otherwise is within someone’s sites to do, or I simply haven’t found it yet. Take, for example, the ensemble Microtub – not a small bath, but a trio of microtonal tubas.

Mycrotom is not a microtonal tom drum, nor a microtonal extension of the work of the Vegetable Orchestra (a ten-piece collective based in Vienna who make music using instruments crafted from actual fresh vegetables). In fact, the moniker is somewhat misleading, for as the press release notes, ‘Tom Simonetti alias mycrotom has created rather large-format sound carpets in the Bertolt Brecht mechanical engineering city of Augsburg. He now presents the same: soundscapes on which you can go out of work and walk away.’

So, it’s actually about sound carpets. I have to confess that I chuckled a little on reading that, before reminding myself of my own habit of describing works as ‘sonic tapestries’ and going into detail about the ‘fabric’ of numerous compositions – and that was before I listened to the album.

The pieces are built on interesting juxtapositions – sparse motoric beats click metronomically through gloopy synth basslines that could have been lifted off early 80s electro cuts on Wax Trax! while xylophone-type chimes ring out lilting motifs. Extraneous sounds are looped to forge unusual rhythms, and there’s a muddy, murky aspect to the sound that makes it difficult to separate the different elements.

Many of the synth sounds are vintage in style, squelchy, thick, fuzzy-edged, and while the arrangements are sparse, the effect is far from minimalist: there’s quite some density to the sound, and what’s more, a lot of Ratoratiyo pursues quite danceable grooves, and with a hybrid of 90s minimalism and 80s robotix, it feels completely removed from anything human.

‘Logic by Machine’ contains human voices – sampled, distanced, detached – against a sparse, rhythmic loop. It’s anything but comforting, and leaves one feeling even further adrift, alienated. It’s a strange experience that twists at the cognitive filters in unexpected ways. After all, none of the elements are new or particularly unusual – but their assemblage is, and in ways that are difficult to place a finger on. And it’s that difficulty of placement that lies at the heart of the challenge for a listener. You ask yourself ‘how does this fit with my experience?’ and ‘where do I belong in all of this?’ There are no handholds or footholds in terms of emotional resonance, in terms of experience. And precisely what does this convey? The sounds may be warm, but the experience is somehow cold, with a sense of separation.

It’s from this place of distance, a position of removal, isolation, that we begin to explore the spaces of Ratoratiyo, and the exploratory adventure begins.

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BIG | BRAVE share a video for "Of This Ilk" – taken from their forthcoming album VITAL arriving on CD and Digital formats this Friday via Southern Lord, and with LP to follow in Summer. Pre-orders are now live and available via the Southern Lord store, Southern Lord Europe, Bandcamp and Evil Greed.

About the new song and video, which originally premiered via Roadburn Festival’s digital edition, Roadburn Redux, vocalist Robin Wattie comments, "This video and song is an ode to those that understand this all too well, all too deeply. There is a silent form of suffering that most do not share. It is a private shame that is very public. The percentage of the global population that take these painstaking, costly efforts in whitening, or rather more aptly, bleaching their skin is higher than a lot would understand, let alone, would ever consider. There is a billion dollar industry in injectables and cream-like products containing harsh and even life-threatening chemicals to lighten, clarify, and whiten one’s skin. This video is an ode to my younger self, and to all the other children, teens and adults of the past, present and future that have used bleach in every way possible, that withdrew from the sun, used clothespins on their nose, scraped their skin raw, buying every product available, in trying every means they can think of to achieve this exclusive coveted lightness, whiteness."

Watch the video here:

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Southern Lord – 23rd April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Canadian trio BIG | BRAVE return bolder, heavier, and more intense than ever on Vital. But when to start?

I seem to recall an essay by William Burroughs which contained the advice for writers that narrative had to be visual in order to work – meaning that writing about a ‘indescribable monster’ just wouldn’t cut it: readers need to be able to visualise the monster in order for it to be scary. Writing about music may be a slightly different discipline, but the challenge is always to convey not only what the music sounds like – the objective bit – but how and why it makes you feel the way it does – the subjective, critical bit. After all, you’re not a music critic without providing any critique. And yet the first – and for some time, only – word that comes to mind to ‘describe’ the experience of listening to Vital is ‘overwhelming’.

The crushing power chords crash in after just a matter of seconds on the first mammoth track, ‘Abating the Incarnation of Matter’. But it’s the jolting, juddering stop / start percussion that hits so hard that really dominates. There’s so much space – and time – between each beat, that it feels as if time is hanging in suspension, and you catch your breath and hold it, waiting, on tenterhooks. And it’s this, the sound of a tectonic collision, juxtaposed with Robin Wattie’s commanding yet incredibly delicate, fragile vocal that makes it such an intriguing and powerful experience. As the song progresses, the anguished calling becomes a ragged, hoarse-throated holler and you feel the emotion tearing at her vocal chords, ‘dissolving each layer until there is little matter left’.

The yawning throb of feedback that fills the first minute and a half of single ‘Half Life’ sounds like a jet preparing for takeoff. And when it stops, it’s the hush that’s deafening and uncomfortable. The lyrics are actually an excerpt from the 2018 essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, by Alexander Chee. And when the music ends, leaving nothing but Watties’s acapella vocal, they’ve never sounded more stark and intense. Once you become adjusted to noise, there is little more shocking to the system than its absence. And so it is in life: we’ve become accustomed to traffic, to bustle, to busy shops and offices, to streaming media – and when it stops, we struggle to know what to do.

And so it is that the dynamics of Vital are so integral to its impact. ‘Wilted, Still and All…’ is different again. The album’s shortest track is still of a dense tonality and substantial volume but manifests as a billowing cloud of grumbling ambience, and it provides a certain respite ahead of the punishing ‘Of This Ilk’ – nine and a half minutes of slow, deliberate, and absolutely brutal punishment, a bludgeoning assault on a part with Cop-­era Swans. The drums and bass operate as one, a skull-crushing slab of abrasion that hits like battering ram, while the guitars provide texture as strains of feedback howl and whine. The false ending halfway through only accentuates the force ahead of the extended crescendo which follows. It’s the repetition that really batters the brain, though: bludgeoning away at the same chord for what feels like an eternity is somehow both torturous and comforting. The third and final movement is rather more tranquil, but nevertheless always carries the threat of another wave of noise, which doesn’t arrive until the title track, a nine-minute finale that grinds out a dolorous drone, a crawling dirge where a single chord and crashing beat rings out, echoes and decays for what feels like an eternity.

‘Timeless’ is a word that’s so often used and misused in describing music, but with Vital, I mean it to be understood rather more literally, in that time stalls and everything – time, perception, and the world itself – hangs, frozen in suspension. While listening to Vital, nothing exists outside this moment, and everything is sucked into the vacuum of its making. You can barely breathe or swallow, and for the time it’s playing, there is nothing else but this.

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