Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Cohen’

27th April 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Ghost Moon Ritual follows its predecessor, Night Tides, after three years in the making. It’s easy to forget that most musicians have actual day-jobs, and things like families and normal lives to operate, too. It’s not easy to pack in creative activity alongside normal life.

Since lockdown, everyone seems to have delivered a new release, and, bizarrely, and most unexpectedly, a world without live shows is suddenly a world brimming with new music not so much ins spite of, but because of circumstance.

All of our circumstances are different, of course. Balancing dayjob, parenting, and an all-consuming state of anxiety, I’ve found less time and energy than ever available to review more material than I’ve ever received in over a decade of doing this.

Ghost Moon Ritual is pitched as ‘a song-cycle influenced by redemption, hope, failure and endurance’, and while the creative contexts isn’t immediately apparent, the attention to detail, not least of all atmosphere, is.

As the band write, ‘During the three years of writing and recording the album, several people close to the band passed away bringing a heavy mood to the proceedings. During this time, two beautiful children were born as well, bringing with them a reminder of the joy that still exists and is always enduring. Realizing that all there is now and that the outside world at large seemed to be teetering more and more on the edge of a cliff Work moved slowly, tuning this out and retreating into the studio with heavy hearts, the duo worked to channel the grief and hope and joy into what has become Ghost Moon Ritual.’

While Night Tides contained six songs, Ghost Moon Ritual contains thirteen, and as such is an altogether more substantial document. It’s also a document which renders with crystal clarity the way in which Lunar Twin’s work is built on contrasts: specifically, Bryce Boudreau’s baritone vocals that call to mind Leonard Cohen, and as such belong to a rock / folk world, while Christopher Murphy conjures sonic drifts that meld dreamwave and sparse folk with a laid-back, rippling dance vibe.

The album’s first song, ‘Drunken Sky’ is a slow, swaying semi-comatose crawl of drum machine and synth bass, and calls to mind some of the doomy, reverby-but-claustrophobic material on The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Barbed Wire Kisses. The drums burst into D’n’B near the end, which is unexpected, but then there’s a lot that’s unexpected about this set.

All of the Mark Lanegan comparisons are entirely justified: ‘Leaves’, and, indeed, several other cuts, could easily pass as outtakes from recent Lanegan albums, with Bryce Boudreau’s world-weary gravel-heavy croon laying breathy over sparse backing, picked guitar and spectral synths drifting over minimal percussion. ‘Neon Room’ is subtle, combining chilled dance grooves with a deep-carved rock growl: the result is quite unexpectedly affecting.

As a collection it’s sparse, dolorous, dark. It’s also gentle in its bleakness, but bleak it is, as well as understated and graceful, and as such, it reaches all the parts.

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15th July 2018

Recently named ‘artist of the month’ at The Great Frog, former Arrows of Love drummer, film and game soundtracker and artist in his own right, Mike Frank is on a bit of a roll.

He’s written and recorded two albums post-Arrows: ‘This is going to get weird… I’m going to make this weird’, which he describes as ‘a collection of orchestral and experimental film music songs’, and an album featuring Rufus Miller, Lyndsey Lupe and Artur Dyjecinski which is ‘full of dark sounds and Middle Eastern instruments’. Only the former has yet seen the light of day.

A taster of a forthcoming album, ‘All My Possessions’ has no connection with either project, and is infinitely more accessible – I’ll refrain from going so far as to say commercial – than anything we’ve heard from him so far. What’s more, this downtempo yet somehow simultaneously jaunty, jangly indie rock tune, which boasts a really rather catchy chorus, hints further at his songwriting range. With delicate, understated, picked guitar and a bleak croon, the opening resembles Leonard Cohen, and there’s a darkness which shadows the song as a whole.

Bukowski’s influence is rendered explicit in the lifted footage which accompanies the song, which is essentially about the vagabond life of a writer, but also, as he puts it ‘about feeling down and out, lonely or even desperate’ – and you wonder which voice or perspective lines like ‘she’s so good to me / I’m such an asshole’ and ‘I like to drink because I can / It makes me feel like I’m still with the band’ are really coming from.

It’s got a nice slow build that swells subtly to a full finish, and is, as a song, rounded and satisfying. And really very nice, if kinda sad.

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Mike Frank

Neurot Recordings – 25th March 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Full of Hell seem to be an act who thrive on collaboration, with their previous release, Full of Hell and Merzbow proving to be a magnificent if suitably challenging meeting of strains of noise which nothing if not effective.

Small wonder that the press release states that Neurot Recordings is very pleased to announce a full-length collaborative debut between apocalyptic doom duo, The Body, and grindcore/harsh noise sculptors, Full Of Hell.

I’ll admit that the title is something of an obstacle for me, reminding me as it does of Hole – specifically, ‘Doll Parts’ but the squalling barrage of percussion-led noise that explodes in the first minute of the title track obliterates all reminders of anything other than the need to continue breathing. From the fury emerge grand, mangled powerchords that sweep against a sombre march.

The cover version of the Leonard Cohen track ‘The Butcher’ is a real standout track, despite being barely recognisable in this dank, droning mutant form. But yes, beneath the gut-churning 10bpm sludge and barely audible, Cohen’s barren lyrics are howled and snarled.

The drums are back to the fore on ‘Gerhorwilt’, a thunderous, speaker-smashing tumult combine with tortured, and torturous, vocalisations that barely sound human, while ‘Himmer and Holle’ is a wall of noise that’s the very definition of infernal. Incredibly, the punishment ratchets up another notch or three on the desolate grind of ‘Bottled Um’, and there’s a sense of relief on arriving at the end of the album’s final track, the blackest of black ‘The Little Death’.

That this album is beyond noisy – a pretty relentless assault from beginning to end – is only half the story. The individual tracks display a polarity of pace, with crawling dirges buttressing hundred-mile-an-hour thrashout frenzies. As such, the extremities of the dynamics of tempo are accentuated, hurling the listener back and forth while continually battering the senses with violent sound.

Is it a coincidence it’s being released on Good Friday? Probably not. It does, after all, feel like the sonic equivalent of crucifixion. Hellish, heavy and even more hellish, the day you hear this album is the day you will ache in ways you never imagined possible.

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The Body & Full of Hell at Neurot Recordings