Posts Tagged ‘instrumental’

We love mental shit, and this is some mental shit.

Avant group Hifiklub has shared a new track, ‘Weird Five,’ featuring the legendary Iggor Cavalera (MixHell, Cavalera Conspiracy, Pet Brick, co-founder of Sepultura). The song is a part of the French trio’s audio-visual collaboration, ScorpKlub I & II Original Soundtracks, with the Montreal animator James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger). The double-sided record — which features Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Eleven) in addition to Iggor Cavalera —will be out digitally as well as on different colored vinyl on 27 May 2022 via Electric Valley Records.

Hifiklub bassist Régis Laugier on ‘Weird Five’: “1 Day as A Lion, 2Pac, Spacemen 3, Gang of 4, Electric 6, L7… Something was missing. What about the “Weird 5”? Let us know what’s your favorite band with numbers in their names. In the meantime, here is the first track of Hifiklub’s collaboration with Iggor Cavalera, from ScorpKlub I & II. 18 more videos to come!”

Check ‘Weird Five’ here:

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Human Worth – 13th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I don’t often give advice or tips, but sometimes it’s appropriate, and this is one of those times. If you’re into noisy music that’s inventive and of a consistently high quality, make sure you get hold of everything Human Worth release. Ever. I’ve been vaguely amused by sponsored ads on Facebook recently for Vinyl Box, a subscription service that delivers pre-selected records and enables the clueless to amass a ‘cool’ collection of instantly collectable editions of ‘cred’ albums as selected by ‘tastemakers’. As if. You want a cool record collection, and one that’s worth listening to as well, start here.

Human Worth haven’t been going all that long, but they’ve very swiftly established, if not a house style, then an ethos and a sense of curation, and every release this far has been outstanding, both musically an in terms of product, with each vinyl release feeling, looking, and sounding special. What’s more, they don’t just talk about ethics and causes, donating a percentage of the profits from each release to a worthy cause. It’s a hell of a way from the greed that fuels Records Store Day – which so happens to be today, where I’ve spent the day at home not regretting spending £30 on reissues of albums I already have two copies of. Frankly, it stinks, when you can pick up, for £16, a brand new clear vinyl release – with only 200 copies pressed – of something new and exciting that you can cherish for being more than simply an artefact. Steve Von Till is a fan, and while I may not have as much clout, so am I.

The new eponymous from Bristol-based instrumental trio Olanza is a most worthy addition to the Human Worth discography. It’s kinda mathy, kinda post-rock, but it’s got all the crunch. The guitars chop and change, twist and bend, swerving between picked lead detail and chugging riffs, but if the focus is on the guitars, it only works because of the force of the rhythm section, which isn’t only solid but as heavy as hell.

The album’s first piece, ‘Accelerator’, packs in all of this into less than three and a half explosive minutes. But they have so, so much more up their sleeves, and this is why Olanza is such a magnificent album – they’re clearly not a band to set themselves up for pigeonholing, as they simply don’t conform to any one, or even any two or three genre forms.

‘Boko Maru’ is deft, light, even, jazzy, but also a shade country, and fun… and then crashes into discord when the overdrive slams in, while ‘Descent’ is a full-on riff-driven beast with a psychedelic twist. Then there’s the nine-and-a-half minute monster that is ‘Lone Watie’ which is more indie, with hints of early Dinosaur Jr, at lest before it goes angular crunching riff-racket. With its shifts of style and tempo over such a duration, it’s practically an album in its own right, and certainly packs in more ideas and solid chunks than many bands manage over multiple albums – but the beauty is that it isn’t too hectic, and every segment flows into the next without jarring or sounding forced. This is intelligent, articulate, and magnificently crafted. So many bands try to pack in loads of stuff into each song, with the end result being cluttered, awkward, lacking in cohesion and just that bit too much. Not so with Olanza. This is masterful and compelling stuff.

‘Navarone’ lands between Oceansize and Pavement, epic neoprog and jangling indie, and builds nicely through a cruising riff. Angular, sinewy guitars a la The Jesus Lizard or Blacklisters skew in on ‘Joust’, before the minor key dissonance of ‘Constant’ brings things to a tense conclusion.

Put another way, it’s got the lot, and there’s so much range and dynamic action here, it makes for a gripping listen the absence of vocals is such a non-issue you barely notice it. What you do notice, and can’t escape, is that Olanza have landed an exciting album, where the quality of the musicianship is matched by the passion and the channelling of energy through the medium of music. It’s pretty special.

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Southern Lord – 25th February 2022

For many, the days of the longest, hardest lockdowns are, it would seem, behind us. And yet the shadow of the pandemic continues to hang long as dark; it’s hard to move on and truly put it behind us when life continues to be anything but normal; signage and masks and booster reminders are the new normal, and we face a new normal carrying scars of a personal nature, each and every one of us. Successive lockdowns, periods of isolation, have all affected us in different ways, and we’ve all suffered some form of trauma or psychological damage in living through conditions we’re simply not equipped for.

For many creative types, working through the experience has manifested in new artistic output. There’s something about channelling that anxiety into something, even if not direct or specific in addressing the issue, that helps to somehow minimise, contain, or otherwise manage it. Thurston Moore’s latest project, like so many was born out of a lockdown environment, and it’s an exploratory work, in so many ways. A series of instrumental guitar pieces recorded during the summer of 2020, it’s a document of, as the liner notes outline, a period where, ‘as the world confronted the pandemic shutdown and as the people of good conscious stood up against the oppression of racist police oppression and murder.’ It goes on to ask, ‘How much screen time does a parent allow a child? How much screen time does a child need to realise a world which has the means to coexist as a community in shared exchange?’

This feels like numerous issues, simultaneous but separate, have collided to inspire this album, and raises as many questions as answers. Moore is clearly placing his flag alongside Black Lives Matter, and it struck me – and surely many others – that the protests should have taken place when the world, pretty much, was in lockdown. How could this be? This was a moment in time when protest felt impossible. In fact, anything felt impossible. But the murder of George Floyd was a trigger and it marked a tipping point of something far, far bigger for so many. This was about centuries of oppression and division. The scenes aired over the news channels, globally, were electrifying. But how does this relate to monitoring the screen time parents should grant their children? Surely it’s less about the amount of time, but parental control, and the extent to which parents grant their children exposure to current affairs? That said, it’s something I’ve wrestled with myself. As a child, I had no interest in anything on the news; my own daughter, aged 10, is genuinely interested and has her views on our prime minister, our government, and the pandemic, and more. While I feel a duty to protect her from scenes of violence and endless report of rape, murder, abduction, and brutal crimes against women and children, I also feel that a certain degree of exposure to ‘the real world’ is beneficial, just as I’ve come to see that many computer games encourage problem-solving and eye-hand co-ordination. Screen time isn’t all bad if you can get over the generational differences. But.. but… no doubt, it’s a conundrum.

Screen Time offers no answers. As is often the case with instrumental works, there is little to be gleaned from them in and of themselves, and the titles offer little by way of interpretive guidance. The only thing that really struck me about the titles, in fact, is that several share their with cure songs: ‘The Walk’; ‘The Dream’. ‘The Upstairs’ feels like an allusion to ‘The Upstairs Room’ (the title of the 12” EP version of ‘The Walk’; but then again, all of the compositions are ‘the’ something: ‘The View’, ‘The Neighbour’, and these reflect the shrunken worlds we inhabited during this time: four walls, the view from the window, and the TV as the window to the world. There was nothing else but to look, and to ponder. Screen Time is a work of ponderance. It doesn’t have to be coherent, because coherent thought isn’t the state of the world right now. Show me someone who has a firm handle on everything that’s going on and I’ll show you a bullshitter. No-one knows anything, and we’re all just fumbling, stumbling through.

Many of the pieces on Screen Time are short, fragmentary, and sparse, only half-formed, but evocative and atmospheric: ‘The Walk’, a minimal piece consisting of a heavily chorused and echoed guitar trickling a cyclical motif for a minute and fifty-one seconds is exemplary. Elsewhere, ‘The Upstairs’ is a haunting piece led by disorientating, discordant piano that tumbles along.

At times reminiscent of Earth, or more specifically Dylan Carlson’s more recent solo work, Screen Time borders on ambience in its slow, soft unfurlings. The final piece, the nine-minute ‘The Realization’ is almost hypnotic; slow, with deep, resonant notes that reverberate and hover while harmonics chime and soar.

As a listening experience, Screen Time is pleasant, absorbing. I like it. But what does it say? It speaks for Thurston Moore alone, just as any such release can only speak for its composers and performers. That’s ok. When stitched together, in time, all the voices will combine to present the full picture. For now, what simply matters is that each voice keeps adding to the tapestry of documenting the present, a time unlike any other.

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Ghosts Of Torrez released their first single (The Return) during the second lockdown in 2021 to critical acclaim and the follow up ‘Closer’ following later in that year.

In 2022 the band will release their debut LP and have already started taking their cinematic style, psychedelic, electro-folk to the live arena (more live dates TBC).

Their new single ‘The Wailing’ is due to be released on the 11th February on all streaming services, followed by a limited free, Flex-Disc release in early March.

‘The Wailing’ is accompanied by a Manga style video, “The Legend of Billy The Whale” (The Wailing/Whaling – who doesn’t love a play on words), which depicts the desperation of a broken, Captain Ahab type figure, vengefully taking on the beast he holds responsible for the death of his loved ones.

Taking their lead from bands such as Explosions in the Sky, Joy Division, Sigur Ros and Mogwai, GOT build their songs from soft, slow beginnings into cinematic style wonders.

Watch the video here:

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Cruel Nature Records – 3rd December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Still moving. We are still moving, despite the fact that the last couple of years have, at times, been characterised by a stifling, crushing inertia. Life on hold. It’s impossible to plan anything, from meeting friends to attending gigs, or going on holiday. Anything and everything could be subject to cancellation or postponement at the last minute. What do you do? Mostly, sit tight, and wait. But in waiting, although the sensation is of time standing still, it isn’t. You’re standing still, half the world is standing still, but the world is still moving; life is still moving.

Still Moving was, in fact, recorded back in 2017; between Slump (2016) and Vent (2018), meaning its original context has no relation to the current situation. And yet, perhaps it does, in some way, with many artists dredging up items from the vaults to create the appearance of movement during a spell of stasis.

Combining elements of ambient, post-rock, and much, much more, Still Moving is a difficult album to pin down stylistically. Sonically, it’s showcases considerable range: from the soft, piano-led ‘Wide Open’, is drifts directly into the altogether more between-space ‘Wherever’, which brings both shades of darkness and light within a single composition, mirrored later in the album by ‘Whenever’, which envelops the lingering piano with mist-like sonic wraiths that swirl in all directions, like will-o-the-wisps flittering, detached and shifting between planes. There are so many layers, so many textures, and so much of it’s mellow, evocative, dreamy, and none more so than ‘Think Through’ where a lonely piano echoes out into a drifting wilderness like a sunrise over a desert.

Darker rumblings underpin the delicate notes of ‘Well Within’, where subtle beats flicker in and out, and each composition brings something new, yet also something familiar. Trilling woodwind drifts in and out as echoes knock against tapering drones and soft-focus synth sounds.

‘Present’ starts dark, but then is swiftly rent by beams of light as grumbling ambience of found sound yields to the most mellow of post-rock moods, with a lot of reverse tape sounds adding to the vaguely unheimlich atmosphere; it’s not weird or creepy, just not comfortably familiar in its subtle otherness.

The title track draws the album to a close, but somehow leaves a sense of inconclusion as the notes hover and hang in the air. Distant waves wash to shore and barely perceptible beats emerge fleetingly, and then immediately fade. Is this it? Where do we go from here? There’s a hint of sadness, but also a sense of stepping forward, hesitantly, towards the new dawn. Breathe. Take in the air and the daylight. We’re still moving.

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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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Toundra are enchanted to be releasing ‘El Odio, Parte III’, the third and last part of their 22-minute-long piece ‘El Odio’ off of their new album HEX. For the video of ‘El Odio. Parte III’, the band once more collaborated with Asturian director Jorge Carbajales again. Watch the video here:

And the band is just as excited to be announcing the launch of the full short film ‘El Odio’ on January 10th (1PM CET) via Youtube.

HEX will be released on January 14th, 2022 via InsideOutMusic.

See Toundra live at the following dates:

15.01.2202 Inverfest, La Riviera, Madrid.

22.01.2022 Nau B1, Granollers, Barcelona.

29.01.2022 Gernika, Iparragirre.

11.02.2022 Sevilla,Sala X.

12.02.2022 Málaga, La Trinchera.

18.02.2022 Granada, Teatro Caja Granada.

19.02.2022 Córdoba, Hangar.

29.04.2022 Zaragoza, Las Armas.

30.04.2022 Barcelona, Apolo.

13.05.2022 Murcia, Sala Garage Beat Club.

14.05.2022 Valencia, Sala Moon.

20.05.2022 Pamplona, Tótem.

21.05.2022 Orozko

17/18.06.2022 ADN Festival, Zamora.

03.07.2022 Viveiro, Resurrection Fest.

22.07.2022 Kanekas Metal Fest, Cangas Do Morrazo.

23.07.2022 Castelo Rock, Muros, Galicia

31.07.2022 Low Festival, Benidorm.

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Photo by Sergio Albert

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while. Back in the mid/late-noughties, Maybeshewill (formed in 2006) carved their own furrow in the world of post-rock, balancing delicate ethereal explorations with some bruising riffs, and, every now and again, in the absence of vocals, incorporating samples int the mix.

They adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder certainly seems to have some currency when it comes to their comeback, seven years after their called time and bade their fans farewell.

‘Zarah’, the first cut from forthcoming album, the appropriately-titled No Feeling is Final, has already found a fan and champion in Labour MP for Coventry South, Zarah Sultana. There’s a reason for this, as Guitarist Robin Southby explains:

“The track is built around an extract of a speech by Zarah Sultana. Zarah’s words encapsulate the anger and frustration felt by younger generations, being denied a say in their own future by an older global elite who are staunchly opposed to taking action on the climate crisis in the name of wealth accumulation and upholding existing power structures. The speech decries the billionaire-led multinational corporations and nepotic career politicians who are desperately clinging on to the status quo of late-stage capitalism in the face of a world that is literally burning down around them.”

It’s easy to dismiss instrumental post-rock acts as pedalling mere atmosphere and wistfulness, but politics can be found beneath the surface of the works of so many artists: Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s music does little to reveal the band’s leftist / anarcho leanings, although there are clues in the titles and artwork and so on. But here, Maybeshewill render their position quite explicit, and it’s a strong thing to do.

It’s also a strong release: on the one hand, it’s classic Maybeshewill, a continuation of form that sees them marry unsettling undercurrents and a moody tension with incredible gracefulness, and, of course, epic building crescendos.

‘Zarah’ isn’t so much a crescendo-orientated composition, but is rich in texture, and packs all the elements of an epic into a succinct 3:45. Maybeshewill aren’t only back, but they’re better than ever.

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Hypershape Records – 22nd October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Chronology can be a real bitch sometimes. Linearity is incredibly overrated. How can it be that even now, the world can be so far behind William S. Burroughs’ concept that the conventional novel in its staid, conventional, linear form is passe, and ultimately fails to represent life as it’s lived? Iron Speaks is a release that may trouble some sequential obsessives, as it was in fact recorded before 2020’s Deathless Mind, the fifth album from Stephen Āh Burroughs, formerly known as Stephen R. Burroughs of heavy makers of noise Head of David. Since 2013, he’s pursued subterranean channels of darkness via the medium of fundamentally ambient music, but with an ancient and spiritual undercurrent.

As the press release explains, ‘Iron Speaks has become known as the ‘lost’ Tunnels of Āh album since it was abandoned as the fifth album release due to it sounding ‘unengaged’ to writer Stephen Āh Burroughs; until now. After reworking the original material, Iron Speaks emerges as a rediscovered official sixth album release.’

This is perhaps to overstate the album’s mythology – being shelved for a time is one thing, but to attain ‘lost’ status within three years another. Nevertheless, fans who’ve been keen about this album’s development will likely be happy with both its eventual emergence and its content, which is predominantly a dark whorl of bleak, churning ambience laced with a ghoulish shriek of feedback and general top-end tension. And tense it is: the six pieces bleed together to forge a continuous work that offers no respite and continually works at the psyche and the gut, twisting and gnawing at both. Time stalls, and you find yourself sucked into a subterranean space that’s dark and disorientating.

According to the accompanying blurb, ‘The material deals with the transitional stages of life and death, and it’s an ominous possessive piece of work. As ever though, the darkness of Tunnels of Āh’s output stems from and towards a place of infinite light.’ None of this is so readily apparent on listening, with any light feeling particularly distant as Burroughs leads the listener deeper and deeper through tunnels that rumble and surge with dense walls of noise – and sometimes, it hurts as the weight of it all bears down on the listener. It’s a rich, dense, elemental sound, born of earth and minerals.

We’re told that ‘The title, Iron Speaks, is a reference to the chapter in the Koran which states that iron emerges from the heavens as a gift to mankind. This is often graphically depicted as a blazing ball of molten fire approaching its earthly target, and that image perfectly encapsulates the sonic dynamism of this album. This album is a consuming experience as it slowly enters its intended orbit to its chosen point with inevitable crushing impact.’ The tile track does indeed pack that crushing impact, an oscillating tumult of treble atop layers of rhythmic squalling; in contrast, ‘Every Hour Wounds’ inflicts a different kind of pain as the lower-end notes bounce like oxygen bubbles in murky water in a deep, dark pool. Ominous drones and hums hover before an industrial slash of sheet metal strikes.

The album’s six pieces all sit around the seven- or eight-minute mark, and are densely-textured, and often quite oppressively heavy works. The first, ‘Wardens’ is a smog of bubbling murkiness, where the sound churns ad churns, like dense cloud and uncomfortable gut churning. Long strains of feedback scrape out over a barren wasteland, and ominous hums and drones hover over heavily-textured earth-shifting grind. It’s ultimately not really about ‘engagement’, but about tone texture, and atmosphere, and this is bleak, dense, and uncomfortable, and in a way that draws the listener in. Thunder rumbles, and the experience is quite discomforting. It’s more than that: it’s claustrophobic, suffocating. ‘Terminus Est’ clanks and chimes and booms out dolorous, depressing notes that offer no space to breathe or to reflect. It leaves you feeling compressed, and if not necessarily anxious, then far from relaxed or soothed, but instead on edge and unsettled – and this is why Iron Speaks is a strong work: it has the capacity to have a palpable effect on the listener.

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