Posts Tagged ‘Progressive’

Christopher Nosnibor

Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is such a quintessentially post-rock album title: without hearing a note, it evokes the spirit of 2003-2006 or thereabouts. On listening, it’s perhaps not as overtly post-rock as all that – it’s not a slow-building crescendo-fest with chiming guitars like Explosions in the Sky or even lesser-known acts like And So I Watch You From Afar, but with ties to legends in the field, it is every inch of that milieu, with ‘the cello of Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Set Fire To Flames, Silver Mt Zion) and the marimba of ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron at its core’.

It’s been a full five years since their last album, 2017’s Mechanics of Dominion, and during this time the Montreal-based collective have been doing what, it seems, the Montreal post-rock scene does best – detaching themselves from the world and conjuring magnificent, magical soundscapes that offer a conduit to planes of pure escapism.

Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More presents a rich sonic tapestry that incorporates a broad range of elements. The press released makes mention of ‘emotive chamber works using threads of post-classical, post-rock, Minimalism, neo-Baroque, jazz, pop and a wide array of folk traditions’ as being Esmerine’s palette.

‘Blackout’ opens the album with a soft, elegant piano draped with brooding strings that’s graceful, subtly emotive, and easy on the ear. ‘Entropy: Incantation – Radiance – The Wild Sea’, the first of the two-part ‘Entropy’ suite is a nine-minute journey through atmospheric ambience, where one treads with trepidation, uncertain of what may be hidden in the shadows. There’s an aura of ancient mysticism that echoes before eventually, the track refocuses toward a driving prog rock finale.

The beauty and joy of such a work is that while there are undoubtedly inspirations and emotions poured into the compositions, such wide spaces without words offer the listener a vessel into which to empty their own experiences and interpretations, and as such, a piece like the seven-minute ‘Imaginary Pasts’ with its lilting piano, roiling drums, and textured guitar work which trips out into hazy space offers so much scope for the listener to invest and reflect upon their own imaginary pasts. Such invitations to meditate on life and to journey into inner space are extremely welcome when life is so relentless.

Despite the title seemingly alluding to a sense of nostalgia, Everything Was Forever feels more like a work that creates its own space in time, rather than reflecting on a time past. Three of the four final tracks are under three minutes each in length, and as such, are almost dream-like fragments, and the listener finds themselves wandering through chiming bells and rippling notes that dapple like sunlight through trees in a breeze on ‘Wakesleep’, before ‘Number Stations’ guides the way not towards the light, but through a murky sonic swamp or eerie echoes before taking its final magnificent form, and reminds us that, ultimately, nothing is forever, and everything is just a fleeting moment in the scheme of eternity.

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French Progressive metal collective Tranzat have just revealed a music video for a new song from their third album Ouh La La, which was released last month Klonosphere Records.

Formed in 2015 in Brest, France, for reasons beyond comprehension, Tranzat self-produced their first two records, 2016’s Hellish Psychedelia and 2018’s The Great Disaster, this one with the support of Black Desert Records.

The group—Manuel Liegard (guitar/vocals), Nicolas Galakhoff (bass), Benjamin Arbellot (guitar), and Thomas Coïc (drums) have opened for international bands such as Kadavar, Shining (NO), Mos Generator and Mass Hysteria, and have toured with Angelus Apatrida on the French Motocultor Night Fever Tour.

The band’s new album Ouh La La was recorded at The Apiary studio (Birds in Row, Plebeian Grandstand), and boldly explores genres, subgenres, and subgenres of subgenres to offer up honest, eclectic, unpredictable and playful music that will appeal to fans of Faith No More, Devin Townsend, Mastodon, and Dillinger Escape Plan.

Watch the video here:

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Neurot Recordings – 6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something about Neurot: as a label, it certainly has a distinct ‘house style’, and if it does seem to be predominantly in the vein of Neurosis, then Ufomammut’s latest offering, Fenice,  is simultaneously definitive and a departure, in that it’s clearly metal in persuasion, and given to long, slow, and expansive workouts, with the majority of the album’s six pieces running (well) past the seven-minute mark. It’s delicately-paced, too: it’s not all a crawl, but the crescendos land a fair way apart and the build-ups are long and deliberate.

Opener ‘Duat’ is an absolute monster, clocking in past ten and a half minutes, and beginning with ominous dark ambience and slow to a crawl electronics, before a surging techno bass grind cuts through and pulses away. It’s three and a half minutes before the guitars pile in, and when they do, everything comes together to forge a piledriving industrial blast: for a moment, I’m reminded of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘March of the Pigs’, but then things switch again with a tempo change, slowing to a lumbering thud. It builds from there, and the final minute hits that sweet spot of pulverizing riffery that is pure joy. Ufomammut may be a ‘doom’ band by designation, but this is some of the most dynamic progressive metal you’ll hear.

Having set the bar so high so early, the challenge is, can they sustain it? ‘Kepherer’ is a dank, semi-ambient interlude that provides some much-needed breathing space. ‘Psychostasia’ starts off gently, but again, builds into a really slugger, the riff hard and repetitive, the vocals half-buried amidst overdrive and reverb, and it’s so, so exhilarating.

It takes an eternity of a slow, nagging cyclical motif, rich in chorus and reverb, before ‘Metamprphoenix’ breaks, and segues immediately into the throbbing behemoth that is ‘Pyramind’, where things do, finally, hit all-out doom grind with the heaviest, most crushing power chords. The bass goes so low that it practically burrows underground, while the guitars soar skyward. Closer ‘Empyros’ is the album’s shortest track, and it’s three minutes of punishing guitars that pick up precisely where ‘Pyramind’ leaves off and just drives and drives and drives, churning, hard, heavy.

If you’re seeking instant gratification, Fenice isn’t the album you want, but that doesn’t mean that it by any means feels drawn-out or like there’s much waiting involved: despite the lengthy songs, and the slow-builds, the textures and atmospheres are remarkable. I have a friend who loves his slow-burning metal and math-rock, but hates Amenra because he finds them insufferably tedious. Personally, I’m a fan, but I get the impatience, and it is largely around this kind of slow, earthy metal where time stalls and aeons pass between events, and the builds take several lifetimes to come to any kind of fruition – but this most certainly isn’t an issue for Ufomammut on Fenice. The compositions twist and turn and continue to not only hold the attention but to tug at the senses, keeping the listener on edge, poised, tense, expectant. And they always deliver on those expectations.

There is a clear and definitely trajectory here, too, building over the last three pieces to a point where the riffs are dominant – megalithic grinds that hit hard. Fenice makes you feel a broad range of things: boredom or disappointment aren’t among them. It does require some work, but it’s amply rewarded.

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Influential psych innovators Gong have shared a new live video for ‘If Never I’m and Ever You’ as the group prepare for an extensive UK & EU tour between Feb – Sept 2022.

Performing the song, taken from their acclaimed 2019 album ‘The Universe Also Collapses’, this new video captures the band in the intimate setting of their rehearsal space, performing together in early 2019. A mind-melting and incredible sonic experience, a Gong live show is something all fans should experience and as they prepare to embark on their massive ‘This Is The Moment And Now Is The Time’ tour, this new video offers a glimpse for fans of the magic to come.

Formed in 1969 by Daevid Allen, one of the founding members of Soft Machine, classic albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot and You established Gong as one of the most unique, innovative and experimental rock groups of the Seventies.  

Before he sadly passed away in 2015, Allen laid out his hopes for a future Gong, that it should be uplifting, exploratory and a positive force. Kavus Torabi, Fabio Golfetti, Ian East, Dave Sturt and Cheb Nettles, chosen by him, continue his vision.

The band will release a new live album Pulsing Signals on 18th Feb via Kscope. Recorded live across three shows at The Wardrobe in Leeds, The Cluny in Newcastle and Rescue Rooms in Nottingham in 2019 as the band toured  ‘The Universe Also Collapses’, this live record finds the group in spirited form as they undertake, unbeknownst to them, their final tour before the global pandemic took charge.

With touring now set to recommence and bookings going long into 2022 and beyond, Daevid Allen’s vision for the future looks set to be fulfilled.

Watch the video here:

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GONG LIVE IN 2022

FEBRUARY

Sun 27 – FLETCHING  – Trading Boundaries

MARCH

Tue 01  – BRIGHTON – Chalk

Wed 02  – SOUTHAMPTON – 1865

Thu 03 – READING – Sub 89

Fri 04 – GUILDFORD – Boileroom

Sat 05 – COLCHESTER – Arts Centre

Mon 07 – LEICESTER – Musician

Tue 08 – MANCHESTER  – Gorilla

Wed 09 – GLASGOW  – Oran Mor

Thu 10 – CARLISLE -  Brickyard

Fri 11 – WIGAN – The Old Courts

Sat 12 – STOCKTON-ON-TEES – Georgian Theatre

Sun 13 – NORWICH  – Arts Centre

Mon 14  -  BURY St. EDMUNDS – The Apex

Tue 15 – BIRMINGHAM – Hare & Hounds

Wed 16 – NOTTINGHAM – Rescue Rooms

Thu 17 – NEWCASTLE -  Cluny

Fri 18 – YORK  -  Crescent

Sat 19   – HEBDEN BRIDGE – Trades Club         

Sun 20  – BETHESDA – Neuadd Ogwen

Tue 22 -  EXETER -  Phoenix

Wed 23 – BRISTOL – Thekla

Thu 24 -  STROUD  – Sub Rooms

Fri 25 -  HITCHIN – Club 85

Sat 26 – RAMSGATE  – Music Hall

Sun 27 – TUNBRIDGE WELLS -  Forum

Mon 28 -  LONDON – The Garage

AUGUST

Sun 7 – Love Summer Festival 2022 – Plympton, Devon

Sat 13 – Guru Guru Festival – Obersülzen, DE

SEPTEMBER

Tues 6 – VERVIERS, BE – Spirit Of 66

Wed 7 – HEERLEN, NL – Nieuwe Nor

Thurs 8 – NIJMEGEN, NL

Fri 9 – AMSTELVEEN, NL

Sat 10 – MINDEN, DE

Sun 11 – BREMEN, DE

Mon 12 – HANNOVER, DE

Tues 13 – HAMBURG, DE

Weds 14 – BERLIN, DE

Thurs 15 – WEINHEIM, DE

Fri 16 – RÜSSELSHEIM AM MAIN, DE

Sat 17 – JENA, DE

Gong

With their new album Symbiosis set for release on 4th February, the mysterious Nordic Giants have shared the first single from their upcoming record, with the stunning short film for ‘Faceless’ featuring Alex Hedley. Rôka and Löki comment: “We are thrilled to premiere our latest short film ‘Faceless’ featuring Alex Hedley from our brand new album Symbiosis. This film touches upon the symbology surrounding the mythical ouroboros symbol – or snake swallowing its own tail.  It’s an allegory for the trappings of life, where every soul is accountable for their own path, but often chooses to remain in the comforts of ignorance or self sabotage. It’s a little dark, but it’s also quite funny!  A huge thank you to our good friend and actor Simon Brice, who literally got dragged through hell and back whilst filming and also to Nathan M Hetherington for his production assistance. Make sure you find a big screen, set the quality to high and turn your speakers up or headphones loud!”

Watch the video here:

New album Symbiosis represents the interdependent relationship of all life. The union and blending of polar opposites, the harmony created when two different elements combine, not just in nature or in a philosophical sense, but at the root creative level.

This collection of songs blends light with dark, moments of ambience with power and the subtle with the mysterious – themes that Nordic Giants continue to experiment with extensively over the years.

As a whole, the album encompasses a broad tapestry of weird and wonderful sounds, from vintage analogue synths, Tibetan bowls and even a Carnyx horn, to some familiar guest vocalists in the form of Alex Hedley and Freyja – adding their haunting and ethereal sounds on top of what what is predominantly a multi layered instrumental album.

These symbiotic themes of union and interdependence don’t stop just with the music, but are continued throughout the album artwork. Working closely with photographer Neal Grundy, they had many discussions of which material combinations and elements would help symbolise the message. By combining different paints into water they were able to photograph and capture some amazing results, which can only be described as an interlacing synergy of the natural with the supernatural.

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NORDIC GIANTS & ÅRABROT UK TOUR DATES

16/02  Manchester, YES

17/02  Liverpool, 24 Kitchen Street

18/02  Birmingham, Castle & Falcon

19/02  Nottingham, Contemporary

20/02  Glasgow, CCA

21/02  Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

22/02  Colchester, Arts Centre

23/02  Gloucester, Guildhall

24/02  Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms

25/02  London, The Garage

26/02  Brighton, Chalk

27/02  Bristol, The Fleece

28/02  Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach (Nordic Giants only)

Pilgrimage of the Soul is the 11th studio album in the 22-year career of Japanese experimental rock legends, MONO set for release on 17th September (Pelagic Records)

Recorded and mixed – cautiously, anxiously, yet optimistically – during the height of the COVID- 19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, with one of the band’s longtime partners, Steve Albini, Pilgrimage of the Soul is aptly named as it not only represents the peaks and valleys where MONO are now as they enter their third decade, but also charts their long, steady journey to this time and place.

Continuing the subtle but profound creative progression in the MONO canon that began with Nowhere Now Here (2019), Pilgrimage of the Soul is the most dynamic MONO album to date (and that’s saying a lot). But where MONO’s foundation was built on the well-established interplay of whisper quiet and devastatingly loud, Pilgrimage of the Soul crafts its magic with mesmerising new electronic instrumentation and textures, and – perhaps most notably – faster tempos that are clearly influenced by disco and techno. It all galvanizes as the most unexpected MONO album to date – replete with surprises and as awash in splendor as anything this band has ever done.

MONO began in Japan at the end of the 20th Century as a young band equally inspired by the pioneers of moody experimental rock (My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai) and iconic Classical composers (Beethoven, Morricone) who came before them. They have evolved into one of the most inspiring and influential experimental rock bands in their own right. It is only fitting that their evolution has come at the glacial, methodical pace that their patient music demands. MONO is a band who puts serious value in nuance, and offers significant rewards for the wait.

Watch the music video for first single ‘Riptide’, a film by Alison Group now:

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Cruel Nature Records – 5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Aiden Baker’s releases have become a regular feature here at Aural Aggravation. His prodigious output, not only as a solo artist, but through innumerable collaborations, often released through Gizeh Records, have given us no shortage of material to contemplate and ruminate over. It’s often hard to keep up with his output,

Stimmt was first released digitally back in 2015 on Broken Spine Productions, and has been was remixed and remastered for its first physical format outing via Cruel Nature in a limited edition of 60 cassettes (as well as digitally again).

Baker is to guitar what John Cage and Reinhold Friedl were / are to piano, with the ‘prepared’ guitar being a prominent feature of his musical arsenal, along with an array of other ‘alternative’ methods of playing, across a genre span that incorporates elements of rock, electronic, classical, and jazz, within his broadly ambient / experimental works

Stimmt sits at the more overtly ‘rock’ end of Baker’s stylistic spectrum, launching with the heavy riffology of ‘Dance of the Entartet’ that’s got a prog vibe but comes on with a heavily repetitious throb that owes more to Swans than Pink Floyd or Yes. The percussion crashes away hard but it’s almost buried in the overloading guitar assault that’s cranked up to the max and is straining to feed back constantly throughout, before it wanders off into ‘Atemlos’, where it’s the strolling bass that dominates as the guitars retreat to the background and sampled dialogue echoes through the slightly jazz-flavoured ripples. It’s here that things begin to feel less linear, more meandering, and the chiming post-rock sections feel less like an integral part of a journey and more like detours – pleasant, appropriate detours, but detours nevertheless – and it culminates in a climactic violin-soaked crescendo.

Veering between hazy shoegazey ambience that borders on abstraction, and mellifluous post-rock drifts, Stimmt is varied, and, oftentimes, rich in atmosphere. ‘Mir’ is very much a soporific slow-turner that casts a nod to Slowdive, but with everything slowed and sedated, wafting to an inconclusive finish.

The lumbering ‘Staerken’ stands out as another heavy-duty riffcentric behemoth: it’s low, it’s heavy, and finds Baker exploring the range of distortion effects on his pedal board, stepping from doom sludge to bolstering shred and back, and there’s a deep, crunchy bass that grinds away hard, boring at the bowels and hangs, resonating at the end.

After the full-on overloading ballast of ‘Quer’ that really does go all out on the abrasion, with squalling guitar paired with a nagging bass loop that’s reminiscent of The God Machine (the track as a while, calls to mind ‘Ego’ from their debut Songs From the Second Story), closer ‘Resolut’ is eight minutes of semi-ambient prog.

It’s a lot to digest, and it’s certainly not an easy pigeonhole, but it’s an intriguing album that stands out as being quite different both musically, and in the context of Baker’s output. Unusual but good, and offering much to explore.

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5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Inspired by a passage in the novel White Teeth by Zadie Smith, NYC’s Charlie Nieland describes the lead single, ‘Land of Accidents’ from his new album as ‘a dark anthem to not-belonging’. Divisions certainly presents an eclectic mix that doesn’t really belong anywhere, and perhaps encapsulates that sentiment of unbelonging most perfectly within its very fabric. Traversing between a host of styles spanning post-rock, neo-prog, folk, indie, and further afield, if any one genre has an overarching influence, it’s 70s prog.

A stuttering, jittering rapidfire drum machine snare jolts like an electric current through the easy strumming clean guitar that leads the instrumentation on ‘Always on Fire’, the first song on the album. He’s gone all out for the grand curtain opener with this expansive, emotive, cinematic effort that lures the listener into a spiralling, psychedelic experience, and it’s effective – there’s a lot going on and a lot to explore. The same is true of the album as a whole, as it reveals more with every track.

A swell of sweeping strings add layers to the rolling drums and mid-pace melancholy of ‘The Falling Man,’ which contrasts with the uptempo punk-tinged indie drive of ‘I Refuse’ which comes on a like a blend of The Wedding Present, The Fall, and Mission of Burmah.

Aforementioned single cut ‘Land of Accidents’ packs it all in, and has the twists and turns and explosive dynamics of Oceansize at their best and builds into a muscular wall of sound, with dense waves of guitar dominating. ‘Tightrope’ is pure REM, only it’s probably a better take on REM than many of the band’s own later years work, and spins into a soaring shoegaze climax that is nothing short of absolute gold. It’s one of those songs you could easily play on repeat for hours – but then that would be to underexpose the broody magnificence of ‘Skin’ which immediately follows. ‘Some Things You Keep to Yourself’ has hints of Mansun but also later Depeche Mode about it with its dark brooding and also its soulful feel, not least of all the backing vocals. Things continue to get darker and starker on the synth-led closer ‘Pawns’ that goes all weirdy as it stretches and twists out of shape.

Neiland sustains the interest and the variety throughout, and there’s no let-up in quality either: there’s not a throwaway or duff song on Divisions, and with thirteen tracks, that’s no small achievement. That Divisions is almost impossible to pigeonhole is no issue: after all there are only two kinds of music – good and bad. And this is most definitely good.

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Charlie Nieland - Divisions (LP cover)

26th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

LA instrumentalists Teethers, centred around drummer and composer Andrew Lessman, brings together an unusual fusion for their debut release. With contributions straddling jazz, avant garde, and indie pop, for Teethers, Lessman has brought together an eclectic lineup, consisting of Graham Chapman on bass, guitarist Alexander Noise, Joe Sanata Maria and Ted Faforo on saxophones and Stefan Kac on tuba. The results are, as you might expect, unusual.

There’s a smooth, jazzy, swingy pop vibe that permeates the EP#s three tracks, and as ‘Goose Chasing’ indicates, they can locks down a tidy groove and create music you can bop to, nod along to, even dance to… and then they’re more than capable of – and willing to – drive that train straight off a cliff into a wild frenzy of horn-driven discord and madness. This is bit a brief introduction that sets the scene for what Teethers are really all about: the twelve-minute ‘Monopoly on Violence / Mushroom dance’ is a multi-faceted, shifting exploration of rippling shades and expansive soundscapes.

It’s rambling, at times immensely proggy in a vintage sense, and at times it just can’t seem to make up its mind as it ambles and weaves hither and thither, a mellow jazz meandering that hits some frenzies peaks and altogether more sedate intersections. It’s one of those pieces that transitions enticing and irritating in a mere blink – and that’s not even a criticism. Condensing so many elements into its space, it’s difficult to keep up.

The third track, ‘Love Poem’ is seven-and-a-half minutes of dappled sunlight painted in music, with a clean, picked guitar chiming in a simple, hypnotic sequence that’s a post-rock / contemporary prog crossover laced with soft, delicate strings. It’s perhaps the most focused and conventionally coherent of the three compositions, on what is a fairly wide-ranging set – so wide-ranging that it’s not easy to immediately assimilate, and even more difficult to pin down – not just stylistically, but in the most basic terms of formulating an opinion. Is it any good? Do I like it? Does it matter? There’s certainly no doubting the technical proficiency on display here, and having the confidence and audacity to make music that straddles so many boundaries and genuinely challenges the listener is an achievement worthy of recognition.

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InsideOut Music – 24th July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s almost as if they planned it, or saw it coming (although not sufficiently to prevent the release date being put back three times). And you could almost believe it, too: there’s a potently portentous aspect to Haken’s brand of progressive rock, and Virus is very much timely as much for its ruminations on the psychology of contemporary culture, as the press release explains:

‘If ‘Vector’ was an origin story, ‘Virus’ portrays an ascent to power, tyranny and subsequent endgame. The opening track, ‘Prosthetic’, bridges the two albums where scars of institutional abuse are brought into focus. This 6-minute onslaught of brutal riffing starts the spread of a virus that affects all aspects of our lives, be they biological, psychological, technological, environmental or political.’

They’ve been working on the album since the release of Vector in October 2018, and it shows: the level of detail in the interweaving guitars and the spacious melodies are remarkable, but then, so are the thunderous riffs.

The ten-and-a-half-minute ‘Carousel’ is a clear standout, and packs the experience of an entire album into a single song. The rest of the songs are much more concise, at least if you take the five-part ‘Messiah Complex’ suite as separate chapters. As you’d perhaps expect, this is a grand and grandiose sequence, with everything elevated and amplified, and with the addition of some bombastic orchestral strikes, while the final part, subtitled ‘Ectobius Rex’ goes full-on industrial metal riffage.

Elsewhere. ‘Canary Yellow’ is a condensed epic, soaring shoegaze anthem, while the final song, ‘Only Stars’ is a magnificently sparse affair which finds Ross Jennings emoting an almost choral elegy. It feels like a moment of calm reflection in the wake of a wave of devastation.

For all of the heavy power chords that crash like slabs of granite in a most contemporary metal way, I’m in some way reminded of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds and Mansun’s Six, although Jennings’ vocals often carry that rich but troubled soulfulness of Dave Gahan. If this all sounds like an unlikely and improbable cocktail, it’s testament to Haken’s abilities that they make it all work not only cohesively, but deliver some great songs along the way.

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