Posts Tagged ‘Post Rock’

Human Worth – 3rd February 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

A shriek of feedback prefaces the gnarly blast of a monster rhythm section, thunderous drums paired with a snarling bass. And so begins ‘Short Distance Runner’, the first of six songs on Remove Viewing’s Modern Addictions. You know in an instant that it’s going to be good.

Of course, you know it’s going to be good before you hear a single sound.

Featuring members of Palehorse, Million Dead, Sly & The Family Drone, Nitkowski and Wound (to name but a few) is quite the underground supergroup. Plus, Modern Addictions is being released on Human Worth, which is in itself a guarantee of heavy, noisy shit of the highest calibre. So yes, you know it’s going to be good. But even then, it’s hard to be braced for something this good.

The guitar alternates between thick, sludgy chords and really sinewy lead lines that buzz and drill, twist and bend and wrap themselves around you and dig in like barbed wire. The tracks are backed back to back, making the cumulative effect of the heavy battering even more acutely felt. Single cut ‘Your Opinion is Wrong’, showcased here in December is broadly representative of the dense, chunky, churning sound of the album as a whole, but doesn’t fully convey the extent of its textures and variety.

It’s not all punishing density, and the band are keen to highlight that theirs is a sound that demonstrates a ‘broader sound that incorporates elements of hardcore, post-rock and shoegaze into the palette of sludge and noise-rock’.

There are some tight grooves amidst the racket, ‘Wasted on Purpose’ effortlessly transitions through a number of varied passages, from full-on balls-out riffage to delicate, evocative swirling post-rock chimes which gracefully convey a very different kind of emotional weight, and if the title ‘Cleveland Balloonfest ‘86’ suggests something bright and airy, sonically it’s more the Hindenburg disaster with it’s slow, low-slung growling guitar that grinds away at a crawl for six and a half anguish-filled minutes.

If ‘Watch Me For the Changes’ is a demonic dirge of epic proportions with a remarkably light ending (and you can’t help but suspect the title is perhaps a reference to the band’s directions for playing it) ,the final track, ‘A.B.B.A. ABBA’ springs an unexpected surprise as the band switch into disco mode. No, of course it doesn’t really. It’s seven minutes of dolorous doom, thick with atmosphere and dripping distortion. It’s the sound of weight so great that it feels as if it’s collapsing in on itself, decaying and crumbling on the way to a slow death, that leaves you feeling hollowed out and devastated. It’s the perfect finale to a superlative album.

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Efpi Records – 27th January 2023

James Wells

Twittering birdsong and delicately tranquil tunes may not be things you’d immediately associate with jazz, but this is how the third studio album from Beats & Pieces Big Band announces its arrival. But as the track’s title suggests, you should wait: because in a moment, they’re offering up strolling, rolling sultry piano and bold brass on ‘op’ and we’re plunged deep into big band jazz territory.

There’s a lot of that, but the most striking thing about Good Days is its variety. The droning nine-minute ‘elegy’ is a sparse dirge of a tune, but it’s soft, contemplative, and ‘cminriff’ saunters into sultry, smoky territory with effortless ease.

The technicality of the playing is something else – and I really mean something else, on another plane.

Mojo have described them as ‘Spine-tinglingly good’, The Guardian love them, and the press release suggests parallels and links with not just Charles Mingus, Keith Tippett, Gil Evans, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, but also suggests ‘there’s also a post-rock undertow to many of these tracks which shows a consciousness of such contemporaries as Björk, Radiohead, or Everything Everything’.

Whether or not you hear these – and I have to admit that I personally don’t so much, and I didn’t find my spine tingling either, although my ears were definitely totally grooved – there’s both a busy and a smooth element to Good Days as notes twist and spial against busy percussion. ‘blues (for linu)’ sounds like a sleepy improv based on Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’. ‘woody’ gets woozy and goes all out on the bold brass, before the album is rounded off as it begins, with a snippet of a ‘reprise’ take on ‘wait’.

And at the end of the day, Good Days brings the swing – and if you’re talking jazz, that’s just what you want.

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HIBOU is back with new single ‘Night Fell’, along with the announcement of a new EP ‘Arc’ (due 13 January 2023).

Floating through a breezy blend of gossamer vocals, twinkling instrumentals and lush textured melodies, “Night Fell” is a delicate and jangling track that paves the way for Hibou’s new EP ‘Arc’.

Born in Seattle and now based in Paris, ‘Arc’ is Hibou’s first release since his 2019 full-length LP ‘Halve’ and the new body of work sees the artist emerge from his lengthy silence and reel listeners right back into the glistening whirlwind of his sound.

A delicate blend of lo-fi alt-pop, nostalgic shoegaze and diaphanous dream-pop, Peter Michel (aka Hibou) spent the summer writing the EP along the Canal de l’Ourcq, before recording in various apartments, bathrooms and rehearsal spaces in Paris. Engineered and produced by Michel himself, the multi-instrumentalist also performs vocals, guitar and bass on each track, with drums courtesy of Jase Ihler.

A dreamy and diverse project, ‘Arc’ melds together a rich amalgam of sounds: from the delicate and dazing “June”  to the buzzing and buoyant “Already Forgotten” and from the eerie twanging guitars on “Devilry” to the stormy, seesawing soundscapes on “Upon The Clouds You Weep”.

Taking its name from “an electric arc between things, or arc lightning”, ‘Arc’ is both sentimental and stylish with its carefully composed melodies seeming to tap into long-forgotten, hazy memories from the past just as easily as it does bolster hope for the future.

Inspired by shoegaze greats both past and present, Hibou’s elegant arrangements are hard to pin down, falling somewhere between the indie-rock tinted musings of Beach Fossils and DIIV, the folk-flecked intimacies of Alex G and the tenderly tormented sound of The Cure.

Listen to ‘Night fell’ here:

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Otra is a duo of two sisters. Recorded at their home in foggy Pacifica, CA, their debut album I’m Not That Way (out digitally on Feb 10, 2023 via Thirty Something Records) documents their journey as they learn to see themselves more clearly and exist outside of expectations. As the band ruminates on their purpose and sense of self, the tracks search for their own sonic identities – weaving and wandering erratically through a fogfest of hypnagogic synths, chaotic clarinets, haunting vocal stacks, crunchy guitars, and polyrhythmic earth.

Of the first single ‘Repercussion Concussion,’ the band says: “It’s a love song we wrote in September 2019 inspired by Beirut and Sigur Ros! It’s about the weird little moments that make up a relationship, and the resounding joy of learning to move through challenges together.”

Watch the video here:

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Cruel Nature Records – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Many of us were waiting for the snow. And then, it arrived. And then everything ground to a halt. Welcome to the world now. What happened? It wasn’t always this way.

It’s all in a single word: ‘remember’ immediately imbues the album’s title with a sense of nostalgia. It isn’t explicit, of course, but it’s so, so evocative. Because, so caught up in life and the way everything blurs as time races past, we forget so much. The things we remember, then, hold a special place in our crowded minds. Reminiscences between friends, where moments, events, occurrences, people and places are conjured in those moments of reflection whereby we ‘remember when…’

Winters now are simply not the same as they were. I remember, in the early 80s, a full foot of snow on my parents’ back lawn, from which I would build a six-foot snowman and an igloo. We’d even build igloos on the school field during breaks. Snow didn’t stop school busses from running then. Perhaps it’s because of climate change, perhaps it’s because of the sheer volume of films, art, and literature, that depict idyllic, snowy winters, that show is so evocative. Most of can only dream of a white Christmas, but then, even Irving Berlin’s 1942 song was in itself a slice off nostalgia: ‘just like the ones we used to know’ is perhaps more accurately summarised as ‘just like the ones we see in fiction dating back to Dickens’ but obviously, it doesn’t have the same chime. Ultimately, the world is changing, and

The text which accompanies the album’s release serves almost as an affirmation of my line of contemplation, with the explanation that Remember We Were Waiting For The Snow is about what is called ‘solastalgia’: our anxiety, our concern, our sadness to see some natural phenomenon disappear. Written 5 years ago, after Žils [Deless-Vēliņš – aka (Lunt)] relocated to Latvia, it is a collection of exquisite reflective moving guitar-driven ambience drawing from same the sonic well as soundscapers like Jim O’Rouke’.

The nine tracks of Remember We Were Waiting For The Snow range from the expansive – the eight-minute opener, ‘Flakes and Feathers’ and the nine-minute closer, ‘Auseklis’ – to the fragmentary – the sub-two-minute ‘Dead Man in the Sand’ and ‘Dead Man in the Snow’.

Between the bodies, there is atmosphere. There is tension, but it’s contained by the soft curtains of sound. ‘Plasma (Under the Ice)’ is stark, scraping, brooding, dark, and difficult, uncomfortable, uneasy on the ear.

The instrumentation is varied, from screeding synths to picked guitar and mellow woodwind that falls between jazz and post-rock. But genres matter not and dissolve in the face of such magnificence. Remember We Were Waiting For The Snow drags hard on melancholic reflections. It’s also melodic and intimate, and ultimately, quite magical.

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25th November 2022

James Wells

Time marches on, and here we are almost midway through December still catching up with November releases, this time with Polish ‘dark rock’ duo Shrine Of Reflection.

There’s a great temptation to split hairs and that argue that surely the dark rock tag is goths pretending not to be goth, but that would be unjust, as this six-and-a-half-minute sonic adventure is more post-rock than anything, but there are also hints of prog and bleak neofolk vibes emanating from the murky tones, where a sparse, spindly lead line drifts over a slow, deliberate thunder-like beat that plods away like a heavy heart, before it blossoms into colour at the midpoint into an expansive, cinematic sweep.

The blurbage summarises that “‘Child Of The World’ is a song inspired by the movie, Interstellar. It’s about the misery of a human being who is trapped on planet Earth and who is unable to discover the truth of the universe’s nature despite the fact of being its child. All this person can do is just simply stare at the sky and dream.”

That sense of entrapment is relatable, but more than this, the vocals become increasingly cracked and desperate as the song progresses, before the slow-building crescendo takes over, finally tapering off into muffled samples that leave you looking into the emptiness, and wondering.

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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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Ahead of the release of Modern Addictions available to pre-order from 2nd December, Human Worth have unveiled a video for Remote Viewing’s ‘Your Opinion Is Wrong’.

Featuring members of Palehorse, Million Dead, Sly & The Family Drone, Nitkowski and Wound (to name but a few) the band are no strangers to making heavy music, but together they demonstrate an even broader sound that incorporates elements of hardcore, post-rock and shoegaze into the palette of sludge and noise-rock.

Featuring guest vocals from Amée Chanter of Human Leather, ‘Your Opinion Is Wrong’ is an absolute belter of a raging racket, and it’s absolutely brutal in the best possible way. Check it here:

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2182 Recording Company – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

While books have blurbs that likely indicate whether or not you want to read them, records are altogether less pitch-orientated in their physicality, which, back in the day, used to make sifting through vinyl in shops and at record fairs an exercise which was a measure of one’s attitude to risk. Sometimes you’d take a punt on a record because you’d heard of the band and they sounded interesting, others, you’d go by the label or the cover or something.

Some traders – and this is something Jumbo records in Leeds still do – is put a short summary on a sticker on the PVC sleeve the record is stored in.

The virtual equivalent, for me, is scanning press releases. No way can I listen to everything I receive, let alone write about it, and some nights my inbox feels like flicking through boxes of records, unsure of what I actually want to hear until I find it. And lo, as I wander, aimless and befuddled, fatigued from another day of corporate chairpounding to keep the roof over my head and the bills paid, I stumble upon Damage Mécanique by Diminished Men. I’ve never heard of them, but on reading the pitch, I felt as if this was the thing I needed but didn’t know I needed until I found it.

Drawing from elements of film noir, psychedelic exotica, experimental rock, deviant surf and musique concrète, Diminished Men refocus their influences into something entirely unique. Collaged with menacing electricity, the raw materials are broken up and reassembled in their crude private facility. The group has spent more than a decade crafting their style and have established themselves as an integral part of Seattle’s underground music scene.

Their latest record, Damage Mécanique, thrusts the listener into a malfunctioning industrial sci-fi soundscape. Trance inducing guitars beckon with haunting wails, high-tension wires spin and spit with a crackling hiss. Circular kosmische rhythms and anxiety-drenched beats destroy and rebuild around fractured melodies and noise. The band oxidizes and melts into experimental post-punk and acousmatic environments as hypnotic groove and vertigo copulate in cinematic assemblage.

And there’s no question that they’ve got pedigree: drummer Dave Abramson is also a member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, Spider Trio, and has collaborated with Eyvind Kang and Secret Chiefs 3 among many others.

As ‘Double Vision’ crashes in amidst clattering, explosive percussion and dingy bass, I’m hauled by the collar into the realms of early industrial in the vein of Test Dept and Perennial Divide, and instantly, I’m home, knowing that this was indeed what I needed. It’s sparse in terms of arrangement, but dense in terms of sound, and it’s abrasive, rhythm-orientated, loud, heavy, and batters away at the brain.

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that when your thoughts are in a mangled disarray and your focus is no-existent that the answer lies in music that bashes you round the bonce from all directions at once, but for me, at least, it’s infinitely more beneficial than any kind of chillout shit or ambient – although amidst loping, rolling rhythms, ‘Wet Moon’ conjures a shimmering ambience of sorts, while pointing towards esoteric oddity.

‘The Maze’ confuses and confounds with its daze-inducing cyclical riff and motoric beats which are pure Krautrock, evaporating into a mist around the mid-section of its six-and-a-half minute duration that sees it build through a jazzy post-rock segment before tumbling back into that nagging, dislocated groove – and it’s a nagging dislocated groove that dominates the wig-out weirdness of ‘Panopticon’. It’s likely of help to no-one to comment that it sounds like Murder the Disturbed but with the wild sax of These Monsters, but there it is: obscure post-punk collides with obscure jazz-infused noise rock, and it’s a corking way to end the first side of the album.

If ‘Axiel Tremors’ suggests rock excess played at a crawl, then it’s equally dragged out via some expansive jazz expressions into the realms of darkness. ‘Silver Halides’ brings a bold, brawling swagger to a cautious and subdued party of picked guitar introversion, and the final piece in this mismatched musical jigsaw, the six-minute ‘Spy’ hits the groove and drives it out of the door – while the door is still closed. Just as they clearly know how to make an entrance, they obviously understand the importance of a memorable exit.

There’s no particular or overt theme which unifies Damage Mécanique, and nor is there really anything that’s obvious stylistically speaking, as the album tosses a whole load into the mix and feels, in many respects, quite introspective in its influences and inspirations. There are, however, strong and unusual contrasts in evidence, with doomy bass and twanging desert rock working in tandem to forge a unique sonic experience., alongside, well, you name it. Quirky, atmospheric, Damage Mécanique is odd, but also compelling. It could be just the album you need, too.

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