Posts Tagged ‘Nostalgia’

Constellation – 26th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

One’s perception of time changes with its passage. As you get older, it seems different, and passes differently too. In childhood, there’s the sense that summers are long and sunny, school holidays stretch out in front of you like a playing field the size of Wembley Stadium, whereas in adulthood, six weeks is no time, and the summer means it’s nearly time to start considering Christmas. But even in adulthood, while there’s a keen and pressing awareness of the rapid passing of time, it’s easy – and perhaps it’s how we’re psychologically wired – to ignore the overall narrative span while focusing on the rapid cycle of existing in the present. You get caught up in the infinite and swift cycle of the working week, thee routine, you complain about how time flies as New Year becomes Easter becomes Hallowe’en becomes Christmas, even how every birthday marks the passing of another year. But for all the talk of making the most of life and living every day or week like it could be your last, that’s what it is – talk. Because it’s almost impossible to comprehend there being an end, not just of life, but of anything. It’s simply human nature to take things for granted, that the sun will always rise, that you will always be able to buy the same bread and crisps and whatever in the supermarket.

And then they stop making a certain brand of crisps or chocolate and there are mutters of discontent, and then, twenty years later, online forums are oozing nostalgia for these things. These things of no consequence.

Over the course of seven previous album since 2001, Canadian quintet Esmerine, co-founded by percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Saltland) have, as their bio notes, straddled the boundaries of ‘contemporary classical and late 20th century Minimalism’ and ‘more visceral and lyrical sonic terrain born from post-rock, folk and global.’

Such a broad palette is the perfect base from which to paint scenes of shifting perspectives that explore the theme of the title.

Time stalls during the nine-minute ‘Entropy: Incantation – Radiance – The Wild Sea’ – a piece which transitions through numerous parts and brings a range of atmospheres, from quietly brooding piano solo to soaring, majestic post-rock, trickling into the brass-orientated ‘Entropy: Acquiescence’ which evokes that sepia toned Hovis advert kind of nostalgia. And so it’s here I discover that that isn’t an exclusively English thing, but still – there is a cultural heritage of a nostalgia for a golden age of simplicity and innocence. It is, of course, a fallacy: past times were difficult, flawed. It’s easy to hanker for a rose-tinted rendition of a past you never knew, and ‘Imaginary Pasts’ seems to acknowledge this, wordlessly, via the medium of slow drones and rippling piano.

And so it is that Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More mines a golden post-rock seem of evocativeness, conveyed by means of slow-burning epics, interspersed with fragmentary pieces, which, while under three minutes in duration, give the album a certain sense of pace amidst the spic sprawlers, which culminate in the seven-and-a-half minute ‘Number Stations’. The brooding ‘Wakesleep’ is tense and eerie, with a sense of foreboding, that paves the way for the dolorous funeral chimes that herald the arrival of the closer.

There’s a sadness to it, and it’s this sadness which permeates the album as a whole. It’s a sadness that speaks of lost time and fading pasts. And when they’re gone, they’re gone. And yet there are soft hints of redemption, that nothing is entirely finite. Nothing is forever, but memories linger longer than life.

AA

cover Esmerine - Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More

16th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Bristol alt-rock / grunge duo Miss Kill have been making waves around their Bristol locale both live and with radio play, and, more recently, beyond, gripping us here at Aural Aggravation back in July with ‘Drive’, which had plenty.

It’s the lead track on this five-tracker, the title of which succinctly sends a message of taking no shit, and it sets the tempo and the tone, easing in with a gently rolling reverb-soaked guitar and soft, rolling drum and mellow bassline painting a scene steeped in nostalgia while building the volume and packing a solid yet melodic punch.

‘Twilight’ is darker and denser, more emotionally wrought and fraught, a tension tearing through the thick overdriven power-chords that erupt from the quiet, brooding verses. It is, of course, the quintessential grunge format, and they’ve absolutely got it nailed, and with a song that kicks you in the gut while at the same time pulling the heartstrings with a shoegazey twist. It’s a trick they repeat on the boldly guitar-driven ‘All You Gotta Do’, and again, the verses are hushed, reflective, contemplative, and so when the chorus explodes, the impact is immense.

The vocals are integral: powerful, but not simply belting out the lyrics, but delivering them with palpable passion and emotional integrity, to the extent that they convey more than merely the words themselves. It’s singing with feeling, and you feel it.

There isn’t a weak song on here, and if ‘I Wanna Let You Know’ again calls to mind any classic 90s grunge act you could care to name, there’s that bleakly melancholic undertone with a troubled yearning that’s reminiscent of Come, who always took that sound to another place. The same is true of the final song, ‘Someone New’, which showcases a more downtempo sound, and highlights their musicianship and tightness of harmonies.

Debut releases don’t come much stronger than this, and Don’t Tell Me Twice looks set to place Miss Kill firmly – and deservedly – in the national spotlight. The songs are strong, and their delivery radiates quality, and also passion. This is a band that has the power to touch people, to affect them, and it’s a record (albeit virtual) you want to play over and over again.

Miss Kill Artwork

Christopher Nosnibor

And here I am, presented with Trail Of Time, the new album from Darkwave/’Neo-Fanfare" Band, Crooniek, and album which, thematically, ‘reflects on the concept of time. In particular, the inspiration for Trail Of Time is the conflict between the known past and the unwritten future. The future remains hidden and we do not yet know it. But we do know the past’.

It’s a relatable concept, and according to the blurbage, ‘This album is a nostalgic journey through the past of driving force Gerry Croon, his musical projects (‘Parade of the ‘Funeral Fanfare’) and his relationship with his own birthplace Kampenhout, a small village in Belgium, known for his chicory cultivation.’

I much prefer chicory cultivation to Chicory Tip, because ‘Son of My Father’ is limp glam toss, and as such, Crooniek also win my approval for this altogether darker, non-glam album effort.

With slow, plodding beats and mournful brass, Trail Of Time is the absolute in nostalgia, the sound of cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages, of bygone ages captured in black and white in sepia stills.

‘Would You Wake Me In Time’ is more a triumphalist medieval / martial oompah, and then again, there’s ‘At the Lemmeken Monument’ with its samples and sparse synths and eerie glockenspiel.

You could never call this album dull. For the most part, it is very much a work of nostalgia-laden post-rock, and it’s layered deep with sad strings and detailed but dolorous orchestration. ‘Condemned to the Fire’ somehow straddles ‘Greensleeves’ and I Like Trains circa Elegies to Lessons Learnt, and ‘Melancholy at Toorfbroek’ is classic post-rock.

It isn’t until halfway through that we get vocals, and for the most part, Trail of Time is an instrumental work, making single cut ‘G_B’ both a standout and an anomaly. It’s also a killer tune, in any context.

Perhaps ironically, as steeped in turn-of-the century and interwar nostalgia as it is, Trail of Time evokes – at least for me – more of the spirit of the turn of the millennium and the post-rock explosion if 2001 to 2005 or thereabouts. I say thereabouts because no time period has a definite start or end: there is a blurring, crossover, an intersection. And painful as it is to admit, 2004 is receding rapidly into the past: there are children born in 2004 who are now adults.

Time marches on, whether you like it or accept it or not. Breathe in, and breathe deep. Smell the present; smell the past: you never know if or when you will again.

AA

2f73e0cc-3cb9-ccc7-d7b9-fa85a6c5e466

15th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Marking a thematic link to their lockdown project recording as Videostore, Nathan & Lorna continue to show their love of the retro, of the nostalgia, and specifically of the 80s with the second instalment of their ‘80s Actor’ series (released simultaneously with ‘Johnny’).

Shamefully, it took me a while to piece this one together, as I didn’t clock the concept, and simply because while I very much did my growing up in the 80s (being born in ‘75, I feel I lived through the best of the 80s at a good time, seeing the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies and Ghostbusters at the cinema, while Duran Duran and A-Ha were in the charts and on the radio (and yes, Kate Bush, too), I was simply ever drawn by anything featuring River Phoenix, and so wasn’t all that distraught in 93. But I’ve subsequently come to realise his iconic worth.

The song itself is something of a departure, the drum machine backed off and pumping away metronomically beneath a shoegazy drone. It’s heartmelting and melancholy, and as such, captures the feeling among fans, as well as conjuring a perfect pool of nostalgic sentiment that’s non-specific, corresponding with that fleeing ache, that momentary tug, where you find yourself yearning for… well, you don’t quite know what, or why, just that something lost in that time past. And all you can do is go with the flow…

AA

a0953913338_16

Christopher Nosnibor

Last week, there was a brief buzz around the Internet observing that on 1st September 2021, 1980 was as far away as the start of World War 2 was in 1980. It’s one of those startling perspective moments that takes some computing. Being five in 1980, WW2 felt like ancient history, despite the fact my father was born before the end of the war. To me, the music of the 1980s still feels comparatively recent, and I can recall events from the 80s – The Falklands War, for example – with remarkable clarity. And yet I have colleagues who are adults who weren’t even born until the late 90s, who feel the music of the 80s is as relevant to them as I find most music of the 50s and 60s.

It seems crazy to think, then, that The Sisters of Mercy’s last studio album was released a few months before their tenth anniversary shows in Leeds in February 1991, and now, here we are, belatedly marking their fortieth year in existence. Not that no new album means no new material: they may still play a lot of old favourites, but The Sisters are by no means a heritage band (seemingly to the annoyance of some of their older fans who lament the fact they don’t still sound like it’s 1985).

This trio of dates sees a different support act each night, and if the return of previous recent supports AA Williams and I Like Trains makes perfect sense, Jesus Jones being tonight’s openers seemed like an odd choice.

The last time I saw Jesus Jones was supporting The Cure as part of Radio 1’s Great British Music Weekend in December 91. I’d never really been a fan, and the highlight of their set for me was the dreadlocked guitarist falling off the stage. Still, they were fun enough, and the same is true thirty years later. As they kick off with the indie rave bleepfest of ‘Zeros and Ones’ I’m immediately reminded that while the guitar sound was alright, they were just too melodic and lacking in nuts for my taste. ‘Right Here, Right Now’, with its baggy beat sounds both dated and a bit thin. Bassist Al Doughty throws Peter Hook shapes, while Ian baker nominally plays keyboards, spending most of the set charging around the stage and lurching his keyboard around on its stand. It was annoying back in the 90s, and it’s perhaps even more annoying now. Interestingly, for a band with a lot of hits, they tend to focus more on material from the rather edgier first album, with ‘Info Freako’ being a clear set highlight.

DSC_0261

Jesus Jones

There’s some grand JG Thirlwell-style style dramatic orchestral ambient cross played over the PA between bands, and with lights moving a curtain suspended from the incredibly high ceiling, the sense of theatre, and of occasion, are considerable, not least of all the nod to the band’s legendary ‘Wake’ performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1985. Tonight, the curtain comes down rather than up to reveal the band in positions, from which they step forward and positively burst into ‘But Genevieve’. It’s immediately apparent that the three of them have been itching to get out to do this, and the rare level of energy Eldritch had shown on the last tour, just days before lockdown in March 2020 is exceeded here. Effusing welcomes and greetings with unbridled enthusiasm. It’s uncharacteristic to say the least, but it’s a joyous reunion that’s massively appreciated by the gathered crowd, which spans a notable demographic, including a lot of people, both male and female, who were probably barely born around the time of the twentieth anniversary show, let alone the tenth. And why not? For all the ‘goth’ copyists who’ve emerged through the years, there is only one Sisters.

They’re straight into ‘Ribbons’, and it’s stonking, delivered with real zeal, before steaming into a full-throttle ‘Crash and Burn’, which has long been a standout among the post-studio year. If tonight’s set list is remarkably similar to that of the Leeds show last year, it’s hard to find fault in the song selection: there will always be songs that would have bene nice to hear – ‘Better Reptile’, for example, or, indeed anything from the Reptile House EP, but you have to hand it to The Sisters for remaining true to their lack of compromise. Any other band with their catalogue would have dug up ‘Body Electric’ and more earlier songs for a truly career-spanning set to mark the occasion. But that simply isn’t how they work. Deal with it, or don’t.

DSC_0278DSC_0288

The Sisters of Mercy

Being the first night, a few minor slips were probably to be expected – there were missed cues for both guitarists, wrong chords and wrong lyrics, but these were all part of the buzz: for so many years, The Sisters have been accused of going through the motions or otherwise playing safe. Tonight, they’re giving it everything and more. That it’s not always pitch-perfect is part of the appeal, and reminds of the Sisters of old, with a particularly interesting / old style vocal performance on ‘No Time to Cry’, a song Eldritch has always seemed to struggle with by writing lyrical lines too long without a pause for breath. He does, however, manage occasional sups from a bottle of something that most certainly isn’t water between songs and sometimes verses, and this seems to keep him buoyant and energised.

After blasting through strong renditions of ‘Alice, ‘Dominion / Mother Russia’ and a brooding ‘Show Me’, Andrew gets to take a break – and no doubt have a quick fag – while the guitarists get to play rock gods and race about the stage as they showcase a new instrumental.

‘Marian’ and ‘First and Last and Always’ are dispatched at pace, before Dylan switches to acoustic guitar for ‘Black Sail’. ‘When I’m ready, motherfucker!’ Eldritch admonishes him as he strikes the first chords prematurely, but it’s good-natured banter, and it’s a strong rendition. I’m vaguely amused by the prospect that this was written while Eldritch was loafing around watching Netflix’s airing of the raunchy pirate series prequel to Treasure Island. Heave away, indeed. It’s followed by a personal favourite of mine, ‘I Was Wrong’. Eldritch was always a deft lyricist, and ‘I can love my fellow man / but I’m damned if I’ll love yours’ is a classic.

DSC_0275

The Sisters of Mercy

It paves the way for a truly searing rendition of ‘Flood II’, with ben Christo’s guitar blistering and burning from the very first howls of feedback, and Eldritch again finds his full voice. He may not hit all the right notes on a technical level, but is unquestionably at his best when he just fucking goes for it and sings up instead of mumbling and growling. So, to be clear to the detractors: missed notes and off-key but performed with passion beats grumbling low in the mix while trying to hold the tune. That said, his voice sounds stronger now than at any point on the last decade or more, and it seems fair to say the Sisters aren’t done yet.

After the first encore of a mesmerising ‘Neverland (A Fragment)’ and the throwaway, truncated ‘Lucretia’, I’m forced to skip for a train back to York, missing the second encore – but I’ve left happy. We can’t realistically expect as fiftieth anniversary show, but for the time being, it’s a joy to see The Sisters of Mercy emerging from lockdown energised and sounding solid.

14th April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

I’d take cheap red win over red, red wine any day: back in the early to mid-90s as a poor student (back when such a thing existed), Liquorsave – the off-license department of Kwik Save, who at the time were selling their No-Frills baked beans for 3p a tin – it was possible to purchase a bottle of Hungarian red wine at 12% ABV for £1.85. It was actually better – by which I mean not only stronger, but also fuller-bodied – than the £5-£6 bottles of French wine. Nowadays, cheap mis under a fiver, but I’ll still stand by budget wines from the right sources, and in the absence of pubs, people, and life in general over the course of a year of lockdown, cheap red wine has become a friend on a par with strong Polish lager.

Anyway: on ‘Cheap Red Wine’, Muca and the evasive, semi-illusory Marquise paint a laid-back, smoky picture from a minimal sonic palette, evoking the spirit of smoky basements bars of times gone by. It wasn’t so long ago you could find somewhere down some stairs that was open till 1 or 2am and sip a bottled beer or a whisky and feel like you were somewhere else while people smoked… but time is relative. Nevertheless, the easy-going, laid-back jazzy vibes of ‘Cheap Red Wine’ evoke a pretty deep nostalgia, and it hits harder than the song itself, which is simple, melodic, reflective, landing somewhere between Amy Winehouse and Portishead.

Based around a simple acoustic guitar and Muca’s magnificent vocal that drawls, but isn’t quite lazy per se, ‘Cheap Red Wine’ builds to incorporate layers of strings and a wandering electric guitar solo, and conveys a heavy ache of emotion, too. An understated instant classic.

AA

Cheap Red Wine_Artrwork_Kelly Emrich

11th December 2020

London trio Slow Cooked Bears are all about the hybridity, bringing together a mixture of visceral alternative noise rock to forge what they describe as ‘a left-field, avant-garde sound that’s both nostalgic and modern with elements of grunge, synth pop and reverb heavy post-rock’.

Now, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, especially now it’s become the last cash cow for late capitalism to milk, and there’s never been a better time to milk it dry than in 2020 when half the world is stuck at home, unable to socialise, see friends or family, shop or conduct all of the activities that have been part of everyday life for the last century. Who doesn’t yearn for the past? Who hasn’t at some point in recent months delved into musical memories that remind them of time spent in the company of friends?

Their releases to date all carry something of a spacey theme, that seem to have little correspondence to the oddball barbarism of the band name, which makes ‘The Grand Scheme’ something of a departure from Eclipse (2018) and Space Odyssey (2019).

It kicks in with a big swaggering blues riff and burns into a grungy alt-rock descending chord sequence for the chorus. It’s hooky as hell, and they sound confident but not cocky, and there’s a 90s vibe that hints vaguely at Placebo while they’re kicking out Zeppelinesque guitar breaks spun through a contemporary filter that alludes to the likes of Rivals Sons and (earlier) Royal Blood. As such, it’s nostalgia, but with a twist, and it works. In the grand scheme of things, and even by any measure, this is a pretty strong single cut.

Capture

The Secret Warehouse of Sound Recordings – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Maybe it’s just me, perhaps I’m tired and emotional or perhaps I’m just feeling particularly sensitive as the long-term effects of an absence of live music and being generally cut off from people bites harder as the nights draw in and the days grow shorter, but I’ve started to feel a real heavy-hearted ache lately for the things I miss. Maybe these are my October Blues, which means the arrival of this single is perfectly timed – not to lift the spirits, but to reflect that inward-facing melancholy that comes with the urge to hibernate or hunker down by a log fire.

Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I spent lazy evenings in basement bars listening to live blues, and it’s perhaps precisely because of that that Muca & La Marquise’s latest single, fills me with pangs of nostalgia.

Stripped-back and simple, primarily an acoustic guitar and voice, it evokes simpler times – while at the same time being absolutely timeless – of late-night smoky basement bars, with its jazz-tinged blues and laid back laconic delivery. La Marquise has a magnificent voice – timeless, classic, smooth. The guitar-playing is similarly understated, but follows a nice, chilled slow blues chord sequence and there’s an exquisite break, too, that draws you in and drifts away on a magnificent wave of melancholy.

20th April 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

I was on the edge of my seat for a cover of Inner Circle’s 90s reggae-pop classic when this landed with me, but on balance, this offering from Windsor-based quartet Saharas is better.

It’s vaguely horrifying to consider the notion that anything jangly and melodic indie with a tense, post-punk undertone, reminiscent of the class of, oh, c2003 or 2004 may qualify as connoting a certain nostalgia. But then, nostalgia is a vague and intensely personal sensation. Being the age I am, I’m probably more likely to feel pangs for 1994 than 2004. And yet, 2004… pre-family, disposable income, part-time work… strolling down to my local record shop mid-morning on a Monday and splurging disposable income on the latest vinyl… Yeah, I can buy into a nostalgia for that, as I recall strolling home with releases by the likes of Editors, Interpol, She Wants Revenge, The Organ, stowed in a nice square carrier bag. I miss it. The likelihood is that someone 10 years younger will feel a nostalgia for whatever they were doing in 2004 (which may well have been a variation on the same thing).

‘Sweat’ very much captures not only the sound, but the energy surrounding the zeitgeist of the first few post-millennial years, which blended a certain optimism with the pessimism of almost twenty years previous. It boasts a spectacularly nagging chorus-soaked guitar-line that hints as much at Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’ as Editors’ ‘Munich’.

It’s all extremely fitting for the current climate: dark times call for dark music, and also inspire a yearning for better times. The early years of the millennium, by which time the euphoria of Labour’s 1997 landslide had slipped into a malaise even before the recession hit, echoed the wilderness of 30 years previous. In 2018, 2004 looks like a hoot.

But most importantly, it’s a cracking tune with hooks galore, and it would be so in any decade.

AA

Saharas - Sweat

Christopher Nosnibor

It seems as if this release is designed to cause maximum confusion. It’s called 2014 and is being released here in 2017. It was ‘originally’ released by German label Attenuation Circuit on 8th August 2017, and has been – so far as I can make out – independently released by the artist himself, with the subtitle of Attenuation Circuit 2017. Given the album’s contents, it sort of works.

The accompanying blurb – which is in fact culled from a review published on August 12th (is this chronology messing with your orientation yet?) is a curious mix of hyperbole, unusual metaphors and theoretical reference points:

‘Gintas K will shower the ears with a whole lot of incredible data streams, all clustering electronica bits and bytes that drop down in a wild way. As if data communications had been flushed through the shower head, tumble down and ending up together in the drain. Strangely when the tap is closed and these electrodes have calmed down in their dripping ways, they actually form beautiful sounding music… well, music might not be the word for all to say, but it does feel like there is a lot of beauty to be discovered in these busy data dada streams.’

As much as the quirkily playful application of abstract digitalism does clearly it comfortably within the framework of Dadaism, it’s also a work which readily aligns itself to the postmodern, in the way that it effectively recreates the experience of information overload, and does so in a fashion which is both nostalgic and retro (the sparking circuits are more dial-up than fibre optic) and executed with a certain hint of parodic pastiche. At the pace of progress as it stands, even 2014 feels like a point of nostalgia on the cultural timeline: a year which predates the vote for Brexit and the accession to power of Donald Trump, it may be a year with little going for it and which has little to mark it as memorable, but many would likely concur that 2014 stands in a period which is better than the present.

2014 is certainly one of Gintas K’s noisier and more challenging releases. While Slow was a subtle and quite quiet, delicate work, 2014 is far more up-front and attacking in every respect. It’s also more difficult to position, in that it absolutely does not conform to simple genre categories like ‘ambient’, instead straddling vague brackets like ‘electionica’, ‘industrial’, and ‘experimental’.

Hurtling from the speakers from the get go streams a barrage of gloopy digital extranea, a glissando of chiming binaries and a dizzying digital wash that flickers and flies in all directions, an aural Brownian motion of beeps and bleeps.

The eight-minute ‘max’ starts very much as ‘min’, with a full three minute’s silence, before a brief crashing facsimile of some metallic kind of percussion makes a fleeting appearance. There are sporadic clunks and scrapes and minute glimmers of higher-end frequencies, but for the most part, the silence of space dominates the clutter of sound.

‘5 zemu ir max2’ sounds like R2D2 having a seizure, with occasional blasts of distortion and random thuds punctuating the frenzied stream of bleeps. It’s ten minutes long. And I have no idea what the title – or indeed any of the titles attached to the individual pieces – stands a s reference to, just as the overarching 2014 has no obvious connection to the seven tracks it contains.

Crackled a gloops and bloops and whiplash blasts of static, crashes like cars impacting at speed and jangling rings all congeal into a digital mush which bewilders and disrupts the temporal flow. 2014 is disorientating, and not just in the immediate moment, but in terms of a wider placement and sense of time / space.

Gintas K - 2014