Posts Tagged ‘Post Rock’

Venus Principle are premiering the melancholic and powerful new track ‘Drag Nets’ as the final single taken from the dark psychedelic rocker’s debut full-length Stand in Your Light, which has been scheduled for release on May 27.

‘Drag Nets’ makes subtle use of a wide range of instrumentation from sax to mellotron vibes and Mini Moog, and the stunning vocal chemistry between Daisy Chapman and Daniel Änghede comes into play again as well.

The band comment: “After the initial recording sessions for Stand in Your Light were postponed, we had a chance to write a few more songs”, guitarist Jonas Stålhammar tells. “The last one written was ‘Drag Nets’. It turned out to be by far the heaviest track on the album. ‘Drag Nets’ represents the waste and rejects of man. You can trawl the sea for food and treasure, but humankind will always carelessly discard all unwanted matter only for it to be rediscovered as flotsam and jetsam. The idea of adding saxophone was a last minute thought in the studio when I reached the conclusion that we had too many guitar solos on the album already. Our amazing guest on the saxophone, August Eriksson, copied my guitar solo note for note and then added some improvised sprinkles.”

Listen to ‘Drag Nets’ here:

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28th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

While physical formats for music may not be especially popular these days, there really is no substitute for holding an article in in your hand. It’s not just about the artefact or the possession – although increasingly, I feel that actually ‘owning’ your music seems like a sound move as acts pull their music from popular platforms – particularly Spotify – and acts who no longer exist cease to maintain their websites and BandCamp profiles and their works simply disappears. Nothing is permanent, but when it comes to things which are virtual, their ephemerality is even more pronounced. This is a long way to coming around to saying that the CD for Abrasive Trees’ new single is magnificent as an item, and it’s very much a fitting way to present the musical contents, and with three tracks including a remix of ‘Moulding Heaven with Earth’ by Mark Beazley (Rothko), it’s a proper 12” / CD single release, the likes of which are sadly scarce these days.

I don’t just love it for the nostalgia: this feels like a proper, solid package in every way, and ‘Moulding Heaven with Earth’ is very much cut from the cloth of sparse, minimal shoegazey post-rock, which provides the backdrop to a stirring spoken word performance before spinning into a slow-burning extended instrumental work. It builds and it broods, the atmosphere growing denser and tender as the picked guitar lines unfurl and interweave across a slow, strolling bass. A reflection on life and death, earth and afterlife, it’s a compelling performance, and the words would stand alone either on a lyrics sheet or as a poem. From there, it’s a gradual, and subtle journey that culminates in a crescendo – that’s strong, yet restrained.

B-side / AA side ‘Kali Sends Flowers’ is moving: again, it’s understated, and yet so very different, spinning a blend of post punk – even hinting at the gothier end of the post-punk spectrum – and psychedelia that in places hints at Spear of Destiny in the way it’s sparse yet rousing. It’s one of those songs that simply isn’t long enough, and that demands for ‘repeat’ to be hit immediately to keep it going.

Mark Beazley’s remix of ‘Moulding Heaven with Earth’ accentuates the atmospherics, and while it retains the rhythm – and if anything it highlights the beef of the bass – and is generally quite respectful in its treatment, and somehow expands the vibe and introduces a more ambient feel, while at the same time shaving over a minute off the time of the original. It’s an interesting – and I mean that positively – reworking, and one that most definitely brings something fresh to the track, rounding off what’s as close to a perfect EP as you’ll hear all year.

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Sargent House – 29th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

If you’re looking for the short version, Helms Alee’s sixth album is a belter – a rich, deep, and intense experience that combines the delicate and atmospheric with thunderous, grindingly heavy riff-driven assaults.

To expand on that… well, it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. It’s not really an album to dissect, because to do so would be to pick apart the magic – and yes, magic is what it is, something conjured from the air and pulling on all of the elements to create something… something beyond, and something bigger. And there are so many great tunes on Keep This Be the Way, too. Yes, real tunes, proper songs.

‘See Sights Smell Smells’ intimates a delicate chime of post-rock that builds to a crescendo, but it rapidly progresses beyond that, into a thunderous blast of tension that leaps out and scorches like a solar flare.

Helms Alee are by no means the first band to combine elements of post rock with a host of other styles and forms – And So I Watch You From Afar and pelican are among the first who come to mind when it comes to post-rock with the emphasis on rock that pack a real punch, but they’re still not particularly close comparisons: ‘How Party to You Hard’ is dreamy shoegaze but hard, like A Place to Bury Strangers covering Slowdive, and ‘Tripping Up the Stairs’ goes all out on the searing racket, explosions of noise that’s every bit as much Nirvana as it is Sonic Youth as they push their way around the dynamic range that flips between heavy and absolutely fucking raging.

Then you’ve got ‘Big Louise’, a soft, gentle, semi-ambient indie wafter that’s nice but unremarkable but for the immense reverb. You can’t exactly complain that there are a couple of cuts that seem to ease off the gas a bit, not least of all because sometimes, it’s simply impossible to any song to really hold its own in such illustrious company, and the fact of the matter is that the majority of the songs on Keep This Be the Way are so, so strong there’s only one way to go.

The seven-minute ‘Do Not Expose to the Burning Sun’ is a slow-burning serpentine twister, building around an insistent and ominous bassline into a dark, hypnotic squaller that calls to mind both The Pain Teens and The God Machine, while the yawning drone of ‘Mouth Thinker’ evokes the spirit of Ride and Chapterhouse, and boasts a breezy melody as well as scorching blasts of overdrive that emerge from nowhere to tower as shimmering walls of kaleidoscopic noise.

These contrasts provide much of the joy in listening to Keep This Be the Way. It’s an album that’s steeped in 90s vintage, and if you were going to pitch it anywhere, it would be in the indie bracket – but to pitch it anywhere, or align it to any one, or even any three genres, would be to sell the album short and grotesquely misrepresent it. Yet for all the hybridization and seemingly incongruous crossovers, Helms Alee manage to melt everything together magnificently, making not just music but pure aural alchemy.

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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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Prophecy Productions – 15th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

As Darkher, Jayn Maiven lives up to her moniker. Since beginning her career in 2012, progress has been slow but steady, with an eponymous debut EP in 2013 being followed by a second EP, The Kingdom Field in 2014 paving the way for her full-length debit, Realms in 2016. The Buried Storm, then, has been five years in the wait, but it was most definitely worth it.

‘Sirens Nocturne’ sets the bar with a low, slow, brooding drone of strings providing the backdrop to Jayn’s haunting vocal. That backdrop gradually swells with layers of tremulous violins, and her voice heads skyward, a glorious choral sound that’s spiritual beyond verbalisation.

What’s striking is just how deeply steeped in folk this is, the sparse, haunting melodies evoking rugged moorlands and windswept mountainsides. This isn’t a matter of cliché: this is music that touches the naked soul. A tribal drum thumps way off in the distance on the funereal ‘Lowly Weep’; it’s majestic and it’s moving, and over the course of its eight-minute duration, the swelling sound conveys so much more than mere words. Utilising post-rock tropes, it tapers down to quiet chiming guitar around the mid-point before bursting into a monumental thunder of slow, overdriven power chords, a slow-burning crescendo that’s both heavy and mesmerising in its graceful execution.

For its brevity and simplicity, built around a picked acoustic guitar and mournful strings, ‘Unbound’ is intense, but it’s on ‘Where the Devil Waits’ that we really feel a closer connection to Jayn; the vocals are more prominent, and we feel as it we’re riding the waves of a tempest – both literal and emotional – with her.

The true power of The Buried Storm lies in just how much Maiven does with so little. That said, ‘Love’s Sudden Death’ packs a dark density, and brings with it a slow, doomy trudge that invites comparisons to Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle, and not simply because these are female artists exploring heavy terrain – although I suppose that is a factor, in that we have a crop of artists who balance weight and ethereality, all wrapped in a mist of gothic enigma.

It’s on ‘Immortals’ that everything comes together in a slow-building crescendo – the distant rolling thunder of drums and growing tension that finally breaks into a bold sweep of sound at around the mid-point of its eight-minute expanse.

The piano-led closer, ‘Fear Not, My King’ plods down into the darkest depths. It’s dolorous and dank, and sucks you down toward the depths of reflection, and places you may not want to go.

The Buried Storm is truly beautiful, elegant, with grace and poise and power – and for all its softness, its gentleness, it’s a difficult and at times harrowing album, and a magnificent artistic achievement.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Vampyre is the third album from Washington DC’s The Neuro Farm, following The Descent (2019), and Ghosts (2014). If the album titles suggest dark and haunting, it’s fitting for a band who harvest influence from the field that contains Joy Division, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sigur Ros, Chelsea Wolfe, Portishead, and Rammstein.

Comprising Brian Wolff (guitar, vocal), Rebekah Feng (violin, vocal), DreamrD (drums), and Tim Phillips (synth), the violin and synth contrive to bring rather less standard instrumental elements to the format, particularly with the absence of a live bass. That’s certainly no impedance (the only people who bleat about synth bass ironically seem to be fans of The Sisters of Mercy who haven’t move on from 1985 – because drum machine = cool, synth bass = not cool). Meh. They’re wrong.

Vampyre is a concept album, which they explain as follows: ‘Our titular heroine, lured by the promise of immortality, is given this curse by the egomaniacal leader of a vampyric cult. But within the cult there is a growing sense of disillusion, and she builds her own following. Eventually, she spurns her maker, rebelling against him and his decaying institution. She says a final farewell to her mortal husband, turning away from humanity and embracing her new nature. She slays her former master in the “midnight massacre” and declares herself queen.’

Now, as much as I’m an advocate of albums over random collections of songs, I do sometimes struggle with concept albums, in that following a narrative is often quite a strain. Too much narrative can be tedious; too little, and you’re lost, wondering what the fuck is going on. It’s a thorny territory to navigate under any circumstances.

‘Cain’ makes for a bold, theatrical introduction, the brooding drums that roll and roil providing a stoic backdrop to some theatrical, dramatic vocals. Feng isn‘t just operatic in her delivery, but she’s backed by a full choral arrangement, and then the violin sweeps in and the cinematic scale of the composition truly reveals itself in all its grand enormity.

It’s all going on with ‘Purity, a slow-builder that slithers through Rozz-era Christian Death gothness via trudging stoner rock to crescendo-blasting post-rock over the course of its six-and-a-half minutes.

‘Maker’ brings the bombast, to something on a part with Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’, and transitioning through various passages of grandeur. It’s a lot to take in. The spacey prog-rock of ‘Enthralled’, the gloopy electro industrial of single release ‘Confession’, the brass-laden brooding of the metallic ‘Decay’. The piano-led, echo-heavy title track is something of a gothic masterpiece, dark, shadowy, with soaring vocals and it’s brimming with epic qualities that touch the emotional centres as it blooms in a glorious cascading sunburst finish that’s peak goth and post-rock in perfect concordance. It feels like a finale, but the three remaining songs continue to cast forth rich and resonant atmospheres, with ‘Midnight Massacre’ landing a gloom-tinged glam-stomp unexpectedly near the end. This is proper gothic rock, perfectly realised.

More often than not, anything that proclaims to be ‘goth’ or ‘gothic’ and goes down the ‘vampire’ route’ tends to be awkward, corny, and cliché, but for all of its ‘conceptual’ leanings, Vampyre is none of these; instead, it’s like a darker, more gothic dip into the domain of early iLiKETRAiNS. But above all, it’s varied, imaginative, dramatic, and really quite spectacular.

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This is it Forever – 25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There are many artists who can boast bodies of work that are solid, and illuminated by outstanding gems along the way, but there are few artists with bosies of work as consistent as worriedaboutsatan. Fifteen years into the project’s existence, that’s a significant achievement. Some artists go off the boil or seem to struggle with maintaining that level once they achieve a certain degree of success, whether it’s simply through a perceived pressure to deliver something or create something that will replicate whatever it was that achieved that success, or simply diminishing returns, but worriedaboutsatan, despite having tracks featured on Coronation Street and Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation documentary, not to mention radio play on both 6Music and Radio 1, and the very vocal support of one Ian Rankin, remain unstinting in their path.

Operating solo since 2019, Gavin Miller has maintained a constant flow of output: so constant that since Providence last May, Miller’s slipped out a brace of album-length single track releases (Circles I and Circles II) and an EP Live from the Studio that entirely bypassed me while I was, well, I don’t know, what was I doing?

The thing about consistency is that it absolutely does not equate to sameness, and worriedaboutsatan’s output is defined by its evolution, incorporating wide-ranging stylistic elements from delicate post-rock to pounding beats within the overall sphere of haunting, reflective ambience of varying shades of darkness and light. And while satan’s sounds exist in a rarefied space all of their own, no-one lives in a complete bubble. We live in dark times, and not insensitive to this, this latest offering finds Gavin channelling that global turbulence through his work.

Bloodsport promises a departure, and it delivers. Miller describes it as ‘still very much a worriedaboutsatan album, albeit a fairly angry one.’ It’s a fair summary. The intro piece, ‘Je Suis Désolé’ is a classically ‘electronic’ composition with oscillating waves cutting across one another, but the treble tones sound like sharpening knives, and it has an edge that scrapes at the skull quite unexpectedly.

Making a linguistic and stylistic switch, ‘Bis Ich Komme’ is slow and dubby, a dense bass and backed-off beats holding the structure of a drifting ambience, before it solidifies and hardens around the mid-point. There’s a tension, a simmering aggression in the tone of the barbed synths, something uncomfortable and uncertain in the samples, before jungle beats hammer through the woozy, stomach-clenching undulations like machine gun fire

Released ahead of the album as an EP with three remixes, ‘Sigourney Weaver Fanclub President’ is the theoretical lead single, and it’s a brooding eight-and-a-half minutes of echoes guitar sustain and crashing sheet metal. It’s the sound of shattering destruction and trepidation. It’s classic ‘satan in that it’s all the layers, all the atmosphere, but it’s also steelier, with a certain bite previously unheard.

The two parts of the centrepiece, ‘An Absolute Living Hell’ are definitive and are a statement in themselves. Dark, dank, oppressive, bass-heavy and bursting with shards of extraneous noise, rippling in deep, deep echo, this diptych is the soundtrack to this bleak moment in time. ‘Part 2’ goes full industrial with a throbbing bass and crashing percussion worthy of Test Dept or Neubauten.

The stark robotix of the brief but claustrophobic ‘Perfekt’ makes for possibly the least WAS-like track of their career, before the metronomic thud of ‘Slur They Words’, dives headlong into the territory darkest hi-hop: the origins of the vocals are unclear, but they’re abrasive, and ‘Apex Redditor’ draws the curtain in a bleak fashion, but with a redemptive hint of a rippling piano and twitchy percussion that – I hope – alludes the prospect of a new dawn. Because surely, surely, there has to be a light at the end of this tunnel.

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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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