Posts Tagged ‘Post Rock’

Darkplace is a mysterious new Swedish dark dream pop/post-punk group who created a conceptual debut album inspired by the bleak landscape of the Stockholm suburbs that birthed them.

Centred around an alternative reality – or just the grim present and future? – and entitled About The End Of The World, the album is being unveiled gradually over the coming months via a series of imaginative visuals based on animated digital paintings for each of its eleven tracks.

Having recently released ‘Arken över Hesselby’ (The Ark Over Hesselby), the video for which presented the outskirts of a city haunted by an unknown aerial presence, the clip for brand new single ’Fearmonger’ takes us into the heart of that city, presenting an apocalyptic scenario as ominous sirens wail and a lone soldier flees the prying ‘eye in the sky’ of an airship.

The Swedish national alarm system is still tested on a quarterly basis by the army. A familiar sound to all Swedes, the sound of the siren has the nickname ‘Hesa Fredrik’. Darkplace state: “After trying to improve Hesa Fredrik, the government learned that the new horns scared the shit out of people.”

Although rooted in late 80s/early 90s indie styles, Darkplace incorporate a variety of other genres into their sound. However, for the members of this highly secretive group, it is not just about the music. They perceive themselves as more an art project that happens to be exploring and commenting on the state of the world through their chosen mediums of music and video.

Most of the short instrumental pieces on the forthcoming album were written with specific storyboards in mind, with the band revealing that “we started creating the art before we had the music for both singles to date, so the tracks were written as soundtracks to the animation.”

The art itself is a multi-layered process that involves photography, sculpting, oil painting, digital editing and animation. Using apps like Nomad Sculpt to create it before exporting scene specific angles and imported into Procreate to be painted, they add: “we use oil paintbrushes and paint over the photo. It is layers upon layers and it gets messy. Exporting gets even messier since we want depth in the scenes and need to export them in layered depths. A few scenes in this project have been animated frame by frame and it has taken almost two years to complete.”

Watch ‘Fearmonger’ here:



Thanatosis produktion – 24th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Having frothed with enthusiasm over Mammock not so long ago, I was particularly thrilled to discover Organ Donor, a Swedish/Greek outfit featuring members of Viagra Boys, Grismask, VÖ, Mammock, Angles, Fire! Orchestra, Aurora Ensemble, CBVB and the Mute. Admittedly, I’d expected something more guitar-driven and noisy in the rock sense, but expectations are best when confounded.

Malplacé evolved through improvisation, resulting in what they describe as ‘6 diverse yet coherent tracks, spanning from instrumental kraut, to mystic themes perhaps reminiscent of John Lurie or Loren Connors, to dark, minimal pulsating improv and punkish, full-on, noise outbursts.’ Diversity and coherence tend not to converge too commonly, and in truth tend to sit at opposite ends of the spectrum.

As the rippling vibes and subtly trilling horns of the abstract jazzy post-rock of the first track, ‘A Sleeping Beauty’ meander their way from the speakers, I’m struck by just how far a cry this is from Mammock and The Viagra Boys, and, on reflection, this is something to be pleased about. Why have a collaborative side project that sounds like your main project? It’s like having a hobby that’s the same as your dayjob. You can insert your own example here, because, well, I can’t help but feel that too labour  the point with explicit examples would be crass.

‘Touch’ spills jazz juices across a chiming guitar that jangles over an insistent yet mellow groove, where post-rock meets psychedelia and krautrock. Sometimes, for a moment, I find myself wishing there was slightly less sax, but then, again, the overloading nature of the jazzery is what makes this what it is, and things get really scratchy and discordant on the ten-minute ‘Stemless’. This is one of those freeform pieces that hurts the brain. Everything jars and flits, and toots and parps, squeaks and squawks and twangs and pings, like rubber bands being stretched and plucked across pans and bin lids, bowed notes bend, drone and grind, and it sounds more like a scrap than a song. It groans and wheezes and stutters and heaves, to the point that it’s enough to induce motion sickness.

‘A Sleepwalking Beauty’ provides a welcome moment of rest and tranquillity, before ‘Power Tools’ goes all out on the avant-jazz noise frenzy trip. It’s noisy, noisy, and noisy, a wild chaotic and cacophonous blast and an instant headache which feels a lot longer than a minute and a half.

In contrast, ‘Sci Fi Marmots’ is slow and smoky, an odd yet sedative piece where everything melts away into a haze. I’m tired, and need sleep. I’m all the more tired after experiencing the bind-bending chaos of Malplacé, but have to hand it to the guys in Organ Donor for creating an album that has the capacity to both exhilarate and drain the very life through aural excess. It’s a significant achievement.



10th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Epocha gathers together Abrasive Trees’ output from 2019-2021 – a brief but pivotal period for the band released four singles and EPs which found them evolving and solidifying their sound. They’ve been variously described as Post-Punk/Post-Rock/Post-Folk and permutations thereof, and all of these elements are in the mix in a style that has gothic – but not explicitly ‘goth’ overtones across the course of the nine tracks gathered here.

Although ostensibly a five-piece centred around Matthew Rochford in their current incarnation, these recordings feature a host of contributors, notably Mark Beazley of Rothko and Band of Holy Joy, who was also involved in elements of production, mixing, and mastering the tracks, and among others. It’s perhaps because of what these individuals bring, both in terms of playing style and instrumentation – with cello, e-bow, organ, and dulcimer among the array of instruments which augment the standard setup off bass, drums, and guitar.

The fact that the songs aren’t simply presented chronologically – and remixes have been omitted – does give this disc a more the feel of an album set than a compilation, and this makes for a journey-like listening experience.

The album opens with ‘Bound for an Infinite Sea’, the lead track of the EP bearing the same title from September 2020, and the chiming guitarline is reminiscent of The Nephilim era Fields of the Nephilim, and sets the expansive atmospheric tone that defines the sound of Abrasive Trees.

While there are vocals, they feature sparingly, rippling up between the lengthy instrumental sections. On ‘Replenishing Water’, this manifests as a percussion led swirling psych groove, whereas elsewhere, as on the slow, hypnotic ‘Before’, the vibe is rather more spaced-out and trippy, and there’s certainly an experimental, almost-jam-based aspect to the music in places.

Predominantly, though, there’s a contemplative, brooding nature that seeps through the rich yet subtle arrangements, and at times, in the folkier parts, I’m reminded of Last Harbour (granted, not a comparison that will likely leap out to many, but so often the best bands are underrated and under the radar). The dark, moody ‘Alone in the World’ is eerie, haunting, and other-worldly.

In pulling together these recordings, released variously on cassette, vinyl, and hand—packaged CD, one would hope that Abrasive Trees will find new converts, even if there are only 100 copies of this CD-only release – if its existence steers people to the digital versions of the original, then it’s all to the good, although it has to be said, as a fan of physical media, Epocha is a lovely item, as well as a well-realised document of the band’s first phase.


(Image links to Bandcamp)

Human Worth – 3rd March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Irish foursome Hands Up Who Wants to Die feature members of Shifting, No Spill Blood, and Wild Rocket, and – as you’d expect from an album released on Human Worth – it’s heavy. But it’s not just lumpen-headed thumping: there’s a lot to absorb on Nil All – and so much more than noise.

The opening of ‘Clothbound’ is atmospheric, subtle, intriguing. And then the bass slams in like a lump hammer. The guitar, rather than following with any direct riff, creeps around, twisting and turning, while the vocals are those of a strangled gargoyle – ugly, menacing, perturbing.

There’s a fair array of stylistic variation across the album’s eight tracks, and it’s this unusual relationship between the guitar and bass that is most intriguing. ‘0-0’ is a deconstructed jazz semi-spoken word piece where neither bass nor guitar confirm to the time signature of the drumming: Enablers may be a touchstone, but ultimately, this is something unique. The same is true of the low and slow theatrical math-rock of ‘L’inconnue’ that comes on like a dreamed reimagining of Shellac that lumbers its way into a howling psychodrama before slowly falling apart over the course of an eight and a half minutes that will make you feel like your limbs are slowly being separated from our body.

Satre famously wrote in Nausea that ‘hell is other people’ and this messy-sounding gut-churning bass-driven, feedback-strewn behemoth is a worthy soundtrack which corresponds with the urge to purge after too much time among the masses – like the excruciating torture of a trip into town on a weekend or lunchtime. It’s a crushingly heavy dirge, and the guitars nag and gnaw at your skull while the bass kicks you hard in the guts. And then it goes off-kilter and lumbers and lurches all over, and that hellish throb continues into the grainy drone of ‘Hell Is Just More Of What’s Already True’. It may only be a couple of minutes long, but it’s lugubrious as fuck.

‘God’s Favourite’ is like a three-way pileup of Shellac, Pavement, and Her Name is Calla, and these guys seem determined to drag the listener through some dark and difficult places – sonically and emotionally. This, of course, is the selling point for Nil All. It’s an album that rages, raves, groans and sighs as it explores those uncomfortable spaces and challenges the listener in a way that delivers optimal rewards. It channels the pain, anguish, and confusion of being alive and articulates it in a way you didn’t realise was possible.

Signing off with the blasting noise-fest that is ‘Ludger Sylbaris’ – a morass of booming bass and sinewy guitar havoc – Nil All is not overtly uplifting or cathartic. It’s schizophrenic, twisted, dark, unpredictable, deranged. And absolutely fucking top.



Christopher Nosnibor

Bubblewrap Collective – 3rd March 2023

Ritual Clock may sound like some gloomy metal act, but is in fact a post-rock duo consisting of Daniel Barnett, formerly of Samoans and drummer/producer Andrew Sanders.

2021 saw them release two full-length albums, Divine Invasions and A Human Being Is The Best Disguise, a reworking of the debut album, with new lyrics and vocals by writer and comedian Autumn Juvenile, followed by a cover of R.E.M.’s Orange Crush, plus the meditative collaboration Witaj w Domu with Polish photographer, Michal Iwanowski.

They explain that “‘Left Behind’ wouldn’t exist without the influence of George Harrison and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The song revolves around a sitar-like guitar line that we knew we wanted to have constantly looping to create a meditative drone. The lyrics are a collage of different lines and ideas that when brought together create a story of a long-forgotten ‘saviour’ that’s coming back but nobody needs them anymore.”

It is indeed an epically spacious drone-based compensation, and possesses a distinctly 90s feel – thankfully more the kind of stuff you’d hear on Joh Peel than Kula Shaker, despite its trippy eastern vibes. It drifts and meanders in a sedated fashion for its five-and-a-bit minute duration and it’s kinda mellow but kinda spaced and dreamy and vaguely disorientating. Not bad at all.

From Coma To Catharsis is the second full exploratory mission in the current five-piece incarnation of NYC / NJ-based instrumental ensemble, The Royal Arctic Institute.

At present, The Royal Arctic Institute comprises five musicians who have played extensively with other groups and/or as backing/session musicians: drummer Lyle Hysen (Das Damen, Arthur Lee, The Misguided), guitarists John Leon (Roky Erickson, Summer Wardrobe, Abra Moore) and Lynn Wright (And The Wiremen, Bee And Flower, Shilpa Ray), bassist David Motamed (Das Damen, Two Dollar Guitar, Arthur Lee, Townes Van Zandt), and keyboardist Carl Baggaley (Headbrain, Gramercy Arms).

What are the first things you would feel coming out of a coma? Would it be cathartic, a full release of all your emotions? What would that sound like? From Coma To Catharsis tries to capture that auditory experience replacing the steadfast emotions expressed on From Catnap to Coma with the sounds of dreaming, then awakenings.

All the pieces were created communally, deconstructing then reconstructing material mainly composed by guitarist John Leon with a couple written by other band members. McNew recorded the band in a live setting with no digital magic and minimal overdubs except for pedal steel work by John.

This record also highlights the band’s musical development after a further year of playing together. This includes songwriting contributions by Dave (‘Angleman’s Lament’), and Lynn (‘The Elated World’) as well as more input from Carl. “This is the third record I’ve played on,” explains Baggaley, “and on this one we really broke the songs down to the bones. I was able to bring in new influences like King Crimson-style mellotron and electric piano inspired by the late Billy Preston performances during the recording of the Beatles’ Let It Be album.” Besotted by 2021’s Beatles documentary series stemming from those sessions, Lyle draped his drums in tea-towels ala Ringo for the song ‘Passover Bucket.’

Regarding that same title, John says, “During the COVID lockdown, everyone’s kids were home and parents were scrambling and grasping at straws to entertain them. A Jewish friend of mine decided to celebrate Easter with her children to give them something to do. They were fascinated by the concept of Easter baskets. The following year, instead of Easter baskets, the children were given Passover Buckets to keep them quiet.”

‘K-Style Circuit’ provides a flavour of the album, and you can watch the video here:

‘Terzo’ : an Italian word translating as ‘the third’, it represents an additional presence that new darkwave/shoegaze/post-rock duo Terzo sensed inhabiting their most creative moments when they began working together.

Karl Clinton (former bassist in post-punk act Diskoteket, plus co-founder of improvisational project Tsantsa) and Billie Lindahl (lead singer and guitarist in dream pop/dark folk act Promise and the Monster) share a mutual penchant for dark sounding music in all its forms. They have also both been itching to free the shackles binding them to strict timelines; not only those of the music industry, but society in general. “Terzo was born out of a discussion about songs we mutually liked and a wish to try a different work process to our then current projects,” they state. “We wanted to do whatever we wanted without restrictions, using our obsession and gut feeling as guidance.”

Their preference for music and art that embodies a degree of doom and gloom is evident on their upcoming self-titled debut album, with its central theme of ‘love and death’ linking all six tracks. Their very first studio session yielded the 10+ minute post-rock epic ‘Cymbeline’ (available now as a debut single), while in the midst of recording it they both had the sensation that a third presence was keeping them company. Intrigued by the thought, “we started talking about the appearance of a third element, in sleep and in dreams,” they explain. “Terzo is about acknowledging this, the swirl that light in the darkness generates, opening ourselves out toward our own weaknesses.”

‘Cymbeline’ is actually a unique cover of a 1991 song by the Celtic/world music singer-songwriter and composer Loreena McKennit, which has a lyric lifted from the William Shakespeare play of the same name. “We had a feeling that we could make something interesting with it,” says Lindahl. “Karl did most of the instrumental work, guitars and programming, while I recorded my vocal in one take. This song means so much to us because it was the first thing we did as a duo and I think we just sort of understood that we could do great things together.”

Terzo travelled to New York in the summer of 2022 to play their first live shows, with the video maker and photographer Johan Lundsten accompanying them to document the trip. Footage from this can be seen in the video for ‘Cymbeline’, with Lindahl adding that “we always pictured something in documentary style for this song. Johan filmed everything that we did, even just hanging around. It is very raw, but it feels right.”

Watch the captivating video to this immense song here:



TERZO | photography by Johan Lundsten

25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Two years on from when I covered Open to the Sea’s Another Year Is Over, it transpires that Milan-based Matteo Uggeri and his cohorts are back with Tales from an Underground River. A lot has happened since then – and yet in many ways, not a lot has, and for some of us, it feels as if lockdown never ended.

Governments and employers seem to be content to peddle the idea that with vaccines rolled out and restrictions lifted, the switch had been flicked that restores normality – so much for the endless talk of a new normal not so long ago. This is likely true of some things, primarily retail and public services, but then, many office workers have only returned on a part-time basis, if at all. For me, personal circumstances have meant not at all, which is welcome – much as I miss people, I don’t miss those people.

I digress, but this context is what I bring in terms of my reception to this album, which was, recorded over the course of a couple of years, starting in the Winter of 2019 and spanning the pandemic period – a time that has drifted into near-unreality and feels almost dreamlike, unreal. And this is very much the sensation that Tales from an Underground River creates. Listening to it feels like listening to a dream.

The text which accompanies the release, they’re at pains to point out, is not a press sheet, but a diary, and that makes sense, as it charts the album’s long and convoluted evolution. It certainly isn’t a sales pitch. But then, art shouldn’t be about sales pitches: creatively, the journey to the end result – if indeed it even is the end result – is far more interesting, and of significantly more value.

Beginning life as two long and multi-layered sets of improvisation with piano, guitar and synths recorded by Enrico Coniglio, it was then completely reworked by a process of additions and subtractions by Matteo Uggeri, and over time, incrementally, it was picked apart and broken down into thirteen relatively short pieces, where soft, rolling piano and mournful brass merge with the sounds of thunder and rain and a host off subtle field recordings which add delicate layers to the sound. And they’re segued together in such a way as to render the album one continuous piece in a succession of movements.

The mood transitions incrementally through the segments, and the titles are beautifully descriptive: I found myself forming mental images of scenes while listening, the music providing the soundtrack to a slowly unfurling movie in my mind’s eye – a movie brimming with scenes of nature, as ‘Pebbles Clink, Fluffy Echoes Make the Air Colder’ and ‘Pebbles Clink, Fluffy Echoes Make the Air Colder.’

Indeed, reading the lengthy titles in sequence conjures a semi-narrative in itself. At times ponderous, contemplative, brooding, at others with flickering sun offering hope – sometimes within the space of a single piece, as on ‘Limpid Lights Dig Words in the Rocks’, you feel yourself carried on a current through different terrains and landscapes. ‘Emotions and Thoughts Climb over Years and Years, Always the Same’ brings droning guitar textures and a rather darker hue of ambience with post-rock leanings, and Tales from an Underground River is an album where the movement and changes never cease over the course of its journey. At times eerie and unsettling, at times ominous, and at others – for wont of a better word – cheerful, it’s a magical piece of creativity that shows vision and was very much worth the three years of work.



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 Remote 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.