Posts Tagged ‘Hybrid’

Taken from their album ‘Apocalypse For Beginners’, Rabbit Junk have released ‘Nostromo’ as a taster of their bold technoindustrial/electropop/metal crossover sound.

Rabbit Junk draws subtle parallels between the challenges facing our species as a whole and the challenges facing our own personal lives. These challenges are characterized as foreseeable and yet tragically unavoidable. As such, the album communicates the fatalism and frustration of modernity alongside the lack of control we often feel over our own lives.

The album’s lead track “Stone Cold" (Feat. Amelia Arsenic) exemplifies Rabbit Junk’s willingness to take risks and defy genre norms. “Stone Cold” is a gender-fluid and genre-mashing anthem with an infectious sing-a-long chorus. The song featuries lyrics in both German and English delivered by masculine and feminine vocal textures floating over a mélange of punk, drum & bass, metal, and hip hop.

Other standout tracks include “Nostromo”, a sci-fi influenced art-metal meets synthwave track which is quickly becoming a fan favorite, and “Love Is Hell”, a decidedly danceable and gritty homage to everyone’s broken hearts.

Check it here:

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2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Bournemouth-based four-piece alt-rock unit Solcura pack a lot into three and a half minutes on ‘Keep It Close’, which is their first new music since their debut album, Serotonin released in August 2021.

It begins with some soft, hazy, warm-toned, vaguely psychedelic backwards guitar stuff and some airy vocals before slamming in with a grungy riff and some hard minor key power chords.

They’re open in their drawing on 90s grunge as their primary influence, and I’ll be the last person to criticise for that. As much as these bleak times draw comparisons to the conditions of the late 70s and early 80s that spawned post-punk, we’re also living in conditions that are giving rise to another ‘lost’ generation, struggling to find their place and their identity. Grunge emerged as the voice of a generation for a very good reason about thirty years ago, and while bands have drawn clear influence from that spell in the early 90s when big crunching guitars were all the rage, it feels more than ever like the time is right for a proper grunge revival

If it initially comes on like a cross between Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Bivouac in its melodic, accessible grunge stylings, there’s a sudden switch that takes a turn for the metal and things get heavier – but without going for the guttural vocal move that’s been persistently popular since the advent of nu-metal.

‘Keep It Close’ sounds and feels like three or four songs in one, and yet they meld the different segments together so seamlessly that it absolutely works – it’s a proper gut-pulling kick in the ribs that’s got a rare energy, intelligent songwriting and raw power, and it kicks some serious ass.

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Solcura artwork

25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

What we all need is a jolt, a shock. Right NOW. You may not even realise it, but consider this: while life and the world seems to be swirling in a vortex of addling bewilderment, a lot of music seems to have become incredibly safe, a retreat. I’m not even talking about that slick, mass-produced mainstream fodder: even so-called ‘alternative’ rock has become increasingly safe in recent years, in the post-emo, post Foos world. And while a few acts on the peripheries are smashing all genre conventions with sledgehammers, they’re pretty niche, and what the world needs is something that can really get into the mix and shake things up. Has anything turned the world even halfway on its head singe grunge?

I’m aware that even reminiscing about grunge places my voice in a time capsule and in the ‘old bugger’ demographic for many, but has anything really been even remotely as evolutionary since? Has there ever been a seismic event since? We talk – or talked – about the zeitgeist, but what is the zeitgeist at the flaccid tail-end of 2022? Disaffection, discontent, strikes? Maybe, but what’s the soundtrack? Ed Sheeran and the new Adele album sure as hell aren’t the voice of disaffected youth.

Brighton’s ‘rising alt-rock rebels’ Fighting Colours might not be the face of the revolution, but they are the band to deliver that much-needed shakeup.

The vibe around the opening of the first of the EP’s four tracks, ‘Your Choice Now’ is a bit post-rock, with a nice, clean, chiming guitar sound – but it yields to some beefy riffage that’s pure grunge, it’s clear from the outset that they’re keen to mix things up and create their own blend, and it’s one that works well. And then Jasmine Ardley’s vocals enter the mix, and with this kind of chunky alt-rock being so male-orientated, to hear a female voice is unusual – and while Ardley has a clean vocal sound, it’s not unduly poppy.

‘The Boat Starts to Shake’ shuffled closer towards the jazzier, noodling end of the post-rock sound that was ubiquitous circa 2004, but the mathy verses contrast with massive slugging grunged-out choruses and a climax that’s nearly nu-metal and beings some hefty noise.

‘The Cure’ is different again, venturing into almost urban territory, while still anchored in jazzy math rock elements, before rupturing into a bold chorus that’s in between Evanescence and Halestorm, both gutsy and melodic and with an ‘epic’ feel, and it’s delivered with style.

The final cut of the EP plays the slower, emotion-filled arena anthem card, but still has more than enough guts and a keen melody, not least of all thanks to Jasmine’s voice, to separate it from the countless Paramore-wannabe alt rock acts out there.

It all stacks up for a strong set with a lot of bold and exhilarating rock action. It’s the kick up the arse alt-rock needs.

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Fighting Colours - Wishing Well - EP artwork (Gypsy Rose Design)

14th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Our last encounter with Brighton band Dog of Man was on the release of the single ‘Hello MI5’back in the spring. A frantic, frenetic genre clash, it proved to be quite an eye-opener.

And how, here we have the album, which they describe as ‘music to lose your shit to, a ritual of intense catharsis’, ‘delves into neuroses, madness and breakdown, delivered with punchy grooves, spidery guitar lines and gloriously distorted accordion.’

Wait, what? Accordion? This is not an instrument one tends to associate with any kind of heavy psych / weird indie / thrashy (post) punk hybrid, but then, Dog of Man do their own thing and make music their way.

The title is, thankfully, ironic. Instead of jaunty indie or breezy upbeat yacht rock Everything is Easy, the band promise an album that ‘delves into themes of neuroses, madness and breakdown – all set to punchy grooves, spidery guitar lines and fizzing accordion.’ Well, if it’s fizzing, maybe it is the instrument of choice.

Single cut ‘Turpentine’ blasts in with some ramshackle guitar that’s rushed and urgent, and as much as it’s indie with hints of The Wedding Present and early Ash, as well as contemporaries Asylums, and sets the manic pace for the album, which sees them skidding into the skewed shanty, ‘Accidentally Honest’. ‘Have you ever been accidentally honest?’ they ask. Well, have you?

With ‘No Click, No Edits’, this is properly rough and ready, raw and immediate, seemingly growing in pace and intensity as the album progresses. ‘Stroudits’ is both punky and theatrical with a dash of The Stranglers in the mix, before ‘Lurking in the Overnight Bag’ goes blues metal with a roustabout pirate slant, and reading that description back makes it sound absolutely shit, but it’s a work of twisted manic genius condensed into aa sub-two-minute adrenaline blast. Doorsy keyboards and nagging guitars reminiscent of Orange Juice are pulped together on ‘Headonastick’ before it shifts from being a driving racket that calls to mind Pulled Apart by Horses before veering off into a hoedown for the break. Are these guys nuts? It seems probable.

There’s just so much going on here; the chaotic cacophony of Gallon Drunk played with the swagger of Led Zeppelin and harpooned by the energy and knowingness of Electric Six are all packed together to tightly it’s impossible to really pick it apart or really fathom why it works, let alone has any kind of appeal. But perhaps the mystery is the appeal. When something is so crazy it shouldn’t work but does, it’s both because and in spite of it. And they make it sound so effortless.

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Dog Of Man Artwork

26th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Ever spend time scratching your head wondering what a song or band remind you of, and drawing eternal blanks? Yeah, I get it a lot: I put it down to exposure. Too much music to process.

This is by no means my first introduction to Arcade Fortress: we’ve featured three of their previous singles here on these pages, and I personally described ‘Sabotage’ as ‘a fully-realised anthemic beast of a tune’. And I stand by that, too.

Younique the album finds them powering into the title track by way of an opener, there are samples seeping from the corners as they thrust away at a punk / rock / pop hybrid sound with incendiary energy.

Younique may not be unique by any stretch, but then nor is it derivative, and my ponderance for comparisons is a frustrating distraction but simply a habit of mine. I can’t help but try to place references, lifts, nods. It’s perhaps because there’s so much going on and Younique is such a melting pot of all things from 90s grunge to post-millennial punk-pop that placing any of it specifically is nigh on impossible, and as a result, what you’re faced with is the vibe, and it’s deep retro.

They encourage us, the listener, to sit back, relax and enjoy a rollercoaster of a ride over 12 anthemic rock tracks, but it’s not as easy as all that. The slow-burning Sabotage’ sits four tracks in and there’s no questioning its anthemic enormity, and I can’t help but think of a grungier take on the sound of Depeche Mode circa Ultra, perhaps, when they were grittier and more guitar-driven.

But there’s a lot happening here. It’s not all absolutely killer: ‘Alan Bell’ gets a bit emo and lightweight, and elsewhere, and ‘Killing Time’ sits between Weezer and 80s hair rock, while ‘Tangible’ throws an area-friendly curveball. In contrast, the driving ‘Uppercut’ is more reminiscent of Therapy? circa Troublegum and its tense, taut, and totally kicks arse, as does the riff-driven ‘Strontium Dog’. ‘Dark Seeds’ is more of a punky / hard rock crossover.

It’s not always easy to make a casting vote, and it’s not always fair to get off the fence when it comes to weighing up maters of opinion and taste. Ultimately, Younique finds Arcade Fortress packing some solid tunes, and that’s hard to argue, regardless of taste.

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Bronson Recordings

Christopher Nosnibor

Life’s short. Too short. It may not always seem it, when you’re slugging through long days in grinding employment that earns a wage that buys less by the year – or, right now, by the week – or when you’re sitting in waiting rooms in doctors or dentists or hospitals, or waiting for trains or busses, ever fewer and ever later. Life as lived, in real-time, is often a drag. But then you realise a year, three, five, ten, has evaporated while you’ve been willing each day to pass just so you can move on from it and move on to the evening, the weekend, a better future that never comes.

But even when time drags, we’re busy and don’t have time to waste on shit we don’t want to do, beyond the work, the groceries, the bill-paying, the essentials. What little leisure time we have that we’re awake enough to enjoy is too little to squander on crap that isn’t the crap we want to spent it on, meaning life’s too short for crap bands and crap music.

On opening the email urging me to listen to the latest from Leatherette, the single ‘Sunbathing’, lifted from their upcoming debut album Fiesta, out on 14th October, my heart sank as my slow, scrolling broadband, revealed a promo short of the Bologne-based quintet a segment at a time.

Turns out they’re infinitely better to listen to than they look, and ‘Sunbathing’ very much fits with everything I’ve just said about life being too short. It’s pitched as a ‘song about hope, dreaming of a better life and telling the world to go f**k itself when needed. It sounds loud, fast and rough, an irresistible punk-shoegaze anthem’, and the band explains that “‘Sunbathing’ was almost born as a joke, it came out of nowhere. We wanted to write a happy cheesy pop song and then completely destroy it from within”.

And they succeed: in the space of just over a minute and a half, they throw down a sackload of post-punk angularity delivered with a rawness that brings real bite. Drawing on a broad range of stylistic elements all tangled together, it’s simultaneously familiar-feeling and fresh, not to mention exhilarating, with squalling guitars howling through a rack of effects lurking behind a pleasant jangle and played at a frantic pace, propelled by some whirlwind drumming. It’s a rush, a clash of sensations, disaffected and yet uplifting. Short lives demand short songs, and with ‘Sunbathing’, Leatherette are spot on.

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Aural Aggravation is immensely proud to present an exclusive video in the form of ‘Lifted by Marionette Strings (For Kleist)’ by Dan McClennan.

Taken from the album Unfurling Redemption released by Cruel Nature Records on 2nd September, ‘Lifted by Marionette Strings (For Kleist)’ is an unusual hybrid of neoclassical and experimentalism, balancing ominous synths and graceful piano with elements of noise to create a multi-faceted journey brimming with drama and tension.

Known for his energetic furling beats with noise-rock experimentalists Warren Schoenbright and Why Patterns, this solo release sees Daniel McClennan draw on classical and avant-garde influences such as Giacinto Scelsi; Svarte Greiner; Valentin Silvestrov; William Basinski; along with sound-artists such as Jacob Kirkegaard and The Caretaker .

Unfurling Redemption is a collection of eight assemblages comprised of synthesised instruments and freely available/stock sound samples. These assemblages explore the widely observed and seemingly inherent desire for overcoming in humankind, a dangerous proclivity for dreaming the transcendent. Particularly, the tracks pull at the problem of what we can do when these efforts inevitably drop us short of paradise, miss the mark or leave us as pyrrhic victors. Taking the form of empathetic or imagined inward reflections, they are inspired by characters in both fiction and critical discourse and take the form of unpredictable, spectral or melancholy audio ruminations. What must be done when transcendence is forever thwarted? Where then, must we seek redemption?

Watch the video here:

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24th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There are certain popular adages which are, frankly, and demonstrably, bollocks. The first is ‘if you can’t do, teach’. Admittedly, the state off education here in Britain means that academics at all levels are forced to teach outside their field with the scantest of time to prepare. I discovered this first-hand while working on a PhD thesis on William Burroughs and postmodernism and being tossed a semester’s teaching on Elizabethan literature. But moreover, most teachers wo get to teach in their specialist areas clearly can ‘do’ having attained a certain level of qualification. Can teachers of musical instruments also not ‘do’? Can diving instructors not drive?

And then there’s the popular notion that music reviewers are failed musicians. Perhaps the people who cast this aspersion should speak to Neil Tennant or more pertinently John Robb, Jim Irvin, and Sally Still. I might not point them in the direction of my own ongoing musical activities so much, but would highlight Oscar Quick, the man behind the ‘Needs More Cowbell’ site, where he posts considered reviews of new releases, who has recently turned in a handful of live shows and delivered the album Weaponised Soup.

In his bio, Quick explains how Weaponised Soup ‘features influences from disco, hip hop, rave and progressive rock, while remaining true to its core 80’s post punk sound. Dealing with Oscar’s experiences with insomnia, this record is a stream of consciousness during those many long nights, covering the extreme highs and destructive lows of staying awake for days at a time.’

As a lifelong insomniac, it’s relatable: the output happens because how else do you distract a fevered, restless brain that won’t let you rest? As you may guess, it’s not only a stylistic melting-pot, but also very much an album that jumps all over the place in a way which conveys the mania and erratic impulses that arise from protracted sleeplessness.

Weaponised Soup Album Cover

Opener ‘I Should Sleep’ sounds like The Pixies, only staggering weary with fatigue and mumbling, slurred, and fugue-like. But if you’re looking for reference points, look no further than the title of ‘Assorted Psycho Candy’, which is, unexpectedly, a remarkably atmospheric, downtempo trip-hop / post-rock crossover that finds Quick picking through a medley off musings. ‘Over the Garden Wall’ is a contemplative wash of Cure-esque synths and packs more than its necessary share of cowbell.

Some songs are more successful than others: ‘Chrysanthemums’ is a weird, almost baggy slice of dance that twitches with paranoia and tension and switches into frenetic territory around the mid-point, but the sub-Goldie Lookin’ Chain white rapping takes some absorption., and the New Order-esque ‘Respect for Dinner Ladies’ brings more Sprechgesang and even straight spoken vocals that likely sit in the Yard Act bracket, and in its simmering tension and up-front awkwardness, by accident or design, Weaponised Soup seems to capture the post-pandemic zeitgeist.

Something clearly changed during lockdown: artists are now talking openly about mental challenges and neurodiversity, and embracing these experiences creatively, and this is reflected in a new wave of music that refuses to be bound by genre, as Andre Rikichi’s wonderfully weird exploratory stylistic explosion on which I wrote only yesterday exemplifies.

As we continue to crawl from under the psychological rubble of the pandemic and successive lockdowns, into a new world that’s not brave, but fearful, tremulous, and ultimately fucked-up and swinging ever further to the right, these are truly terrible times – but as history shows, terrible times tend to spur the creation of great music. With Weaponised Soup, Oscar Quick forges a small but unique space in that fucked-up world, and it’s very much a good thing.

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Bearsuit Records – 31st August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I may have mentioned it before, but I always get a buzz when I see a jiffy marked with an Edinburgh post stamp land on my doormat mat and I realise it’s the latest offering from Bearsuit records. Because while whatever music it contains is assured to be leftfield and at least a six on the weirdness spectrum, I never really know what to expect. That lack of predictability is genuinely exciting. Labels – especially micro labels which cater to a super-niche audience tend to very much know their market, and while that’s clearly true of Bearsuit, they’re willing to test their base’s boundaries in ways many others don’t dare.

Andrei Rikichi’s Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness is most definitely an album that belongs on Bearsuit. It doesn’t know what it is, because it’s everything all at once: glitchy beats, bubbling electronica, frothy screeds of analogue extranea, mangled samples and twisted loops and all kinds of noise. As the majority of the pieces – all instrumental – are less than a couple of minutes long, none of them has time to settle or present any sense of a structure: these are fragmentary experimental pieces that conjure fleeting images and flashbacks, real or imagined.

‘They Don’t See the Maelstrom’ is a blast of orchestral bombast and fucked-up fractured noise that calls to mind JG Thirlwell’s more cinematic works, and the same is true of the bombastic ‘This is Where it Started’, a riot of rumbling thunder and eye-poppingly audacious orchestral strikes. Its counterpart and companion piece, ‘This is Where it Ends’ which closes the album is expensive and cinematic, and also strange in its operatic leanings – whether or not it’s a human voice is simply a manipulation is immaterial at a time when AI—generated art is quite simply all over, and you begin to wonder just how possible is it to distinguish reality from that which has been generated, created artificially.

Meanwhile ‘At Home I Hammer Ceramic Golfing Dogs’ is overtly strange, a kind of proto-industrial collage piece. ‘What Happened to Whitey Wallace’ is a brief blast of churning cement-mixer noise that churns at both the gut and the cerebellum. Listening, you feel dazed, and disorientated, unsettled in the stomach and bewildered in the brain. There is simply so much going on, keeping up to speed with it all is difficult. That’s no criticism: the audience should never dictate the art, and it’s not for the artist to dumb things down to the listeners’ pace, but for the listener to catch up, absorb, and assimilate.

‘Player Name: The Syracuse Apostle’ slings together some ominous atmospherics, a swampy dance beat and some off-kilter eastern vibes for maximum bewilderment, and you wonder what this record will throw at you next.

In many respects, it feels like a contemporary take on the audio cut-up experiments conducted by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin in the late 50s and early 60s, and the titles only seem to further correspond with this apparent assimilation of thee random. I suppose in an extension of that embracing of extranea, the album also continues the work of those early adopters of sampling and tape looping from that incredibly fertile and exciting period from the late 70s to the mid-80s as exemplified by the work of Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Test Dept, Foetus. These artists broke boundaries with the realisation that all sound is material, and that music is in the ear of the beholder. This strain of postmodernism / avant-gardism also follows the thread of Surrealism, where we’re tasked with facing the strange and reconciling the outer strange with the far stranger within. Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness is an album of ideas, a pulsating riot of different concepts and, by design in its inspiration of different groups and ideas, it becomes something for the listener to unravel, to interpret, to project meaning upon.

Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness leaves you feeling addled and in a spin. It’s uncanny because it’s familiar, but it isn’t, as the different elements and layers intersect. It’s the sonic representation of the way in which life and perception differ as they collide.

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26th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

How did this happen? How?? I mean, it’s no bad thing – quite the opposite, in fact – but somehow, a joke band so jokey as so seem almost mythological has broken through, not just on the local scene, but nationally and with songs being played on high-profile radio stations like BBC introducing and even 6Music. They’re a way off beating Shed 7 as York’s most renowned act, but they really are gunning hard for national status right now, following the success of Oh I Don’t Know, Just Horse Stuff, I Guess and now Please Note Intentional Misspelling of Horse.

To look at the covers of early Petrol Hoers albums – or indeed, alboms – is likely enough to deter most sane people – cartoon horses with toilet-wall scrawled enormophalluses provide the housing for messy combinations of hardcore techno and grindcore, the most improbably of hybrids imaginable rendered cheaply and with not only a knowing, but a gleeful lack of sophistication.

So what happened? Not much, really, at least on the face of things. The material is still very much centred around shameful horse puns and so on, and their sound is still a weird mash-up of techno and industrial metal, kinda like Revolting Cocks gone even wronger than on recent tours. The cover art’s been toned down a bit (Horse Stuff featured Danny elegantly draped in a dressing gown in his horse head mask), and some hard touring alongside mates Horse Bastard turned the nation on to all things equine seems to be about the summary of the turn in favour for the act whose most renowned merch is a T-shirt that was born out of a hilarious misunderstanding with the printers, bearing the slogan ‘“PETROL HOERS” IN COMIC SANS CENTRE FRONT BIG AS YOU CAN TA’.

Danny Buckley isn’t daft, and the whole HOERS project is very much an escape for him – but he does it all so well. From the relentless, eye-bleeding block caps posts on social media to the tie-dye T-shirts and pants, HOERS are the full package, so to speak.

Lead single, ‘Captain Me Space Daddy’ has already had some radio play, which is an incredible achievement, considering that it’s an aggressive shouty racket that switches from grating aggrotech to some kind of cheesy Eurovision pop shanty meets early Wax Trax! that’s 100% what the fuck.

It’s exemplary of the album as a whole: fast and frantic – Ali G rapping over chiptune Cossack disco in a head-on collision with full-on raging metal abrasion with raw-throated hollering vocals. It is utterly absurd, and even knowing what to expect, you still find yourself dazed by the audacity of this insane hybrid that singlehandedly knells the death toll for postmodernism, because now, it really has all been done. The thing is – and make no mistake, it’s absolutely genius – even if you absolutely hate it, it’s impossible to deny the audacity and to admire it. ‘Honk if You Like Donk’ is pretty much self-explanatory, while ‘You Can Give Horse a Buckfast’ is a balls-out rager that slips into some kind of lederhosen-slapping ho(rs)edown. ‘You can give a horse a Buckfast / but you’ll never see me drink’, snarls the tee-total Hoers. Wait, he does this shit sober? Oh yes.

It kicks off – and boy, it kicks off – with the Hi-NRG happy horsecore / doom-grind crossover of ‘It’s Just a Mask’, and one feels for all the horseplay, there’s something quite insightful and honest about this. ‘I Would Die for Mr Crunchy’ finds The Hoers spitting vitriol about politicians and the monarchy, and again illustrates that for all the frippery and puerile puns, there is some genuine substance here, and Hoers are by no means completely crass and two-dimensional.

Closer ‘Biblically Accurate Horse’ is a pumping techno tune that invites worthy comparisons to PIG and KMFDM. It’s a bangin’ finish to a bangin’ album, and yes, yes, it really does bang all the way. It’s completely barmy, and that’s precisely why it’s brilliant.

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