Posts Tagged ‘Shoegaze’

With Observed in a Dream, Norwegian purveyors of  psychedelic post-punk / shoegaze, Mayflower Madame, delivered one of our favourite albums of 2016. While their second album is unlikely to see the light until late 2017 or even early 2017, they’ve unveiled ‘Drown’ by way of a taster now. It’s by no means a mere stop gap: to say the signs are good for the next album would be an understatement. A whirl of echo-heavy gutars and even more echo-heavy baritone vocals, ‘Drown’ has an aching melacholy emotional pull. Watch the video and get your lugs around it here:

 

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Clue Club

The other day, I chipped in on a debate over split releases, which essentially revolved around the question ‘yay or nay?’ Personally, I like split singles. I commented that I would usually purchase a split release for one of the bands, but, often, subsequently get into the other.

It so happens that the first release by Clue Club, a subscription-based aspect of Clue Records  features two bands I’ve seen, heard, and enjoyed immensely in the last year. Split-singles-based projects seem to be popping up with increasing frequency (see, for example, the excellent Come Play With Me), and this represents a belting start to this one.

Fighting Caravans were up there with my favourite discoveries of 2016, and probably one of the best live acts I caught all year, on all three occasions I saw them. ‘It’s a Nice Ride (To be Fair)’ is entirely representative of their brand of fucked-up gospel-tinged desert country. Over a spacious, bittersweet guitar, Daniel Clark visits the classic themes of death and hell with a delivery that treads the thin line between psychopathy and self-destruction.

Similarly, the drifting, dynamic shoegaze of ‘Frail’ is exemplary of Colour of Spring’s sound, and provides a perfect stylistic contrast, too its counterpart, too. It’s a dense yet delicate song which conjures a heady atmosphere of blissful melancholy by means of understated vocals and bold, swirling guitars.

Clue Club subscription is available here.

10th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

If dreampop has overbearing connotations of weak and wispy, vague and ethereal, then the slant on the genre VEYU bring on ‘Where Has The Fire In You Gone?’ a taster of their forthcoming EP, ‘Underbelly,’ will likely confound the expectations of many. The chiming guitars and layered atmospherics are all present and correct, but they’re married to a hard-driving and insistent rhythm track that owes more to the conventions of rock.

Chris Beasley’s vocals are distinctive and commanding. Shifting effortlessly from a delicate, haunting falsetto to a strong, emotionally forceful tenor, comparisons to Morten Harket are perhaps obvious but entirely justified. But then, A-Ha were fantastic at penning pop songs which are both gripping and moving – a fact perhaps eclipsed by their biggest hits – and with elements of early New Order also in the mix, VEYU look capable of marking out their own territory in the contemporary musical landscape.

 

SpaceFest presents a brief documentary about the latest experience with Pure Phase Ensemble. In its current incarnation, the collective is led by a true legend: Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, along with with Emil Nikolaisen of Scandinavian rock band Serena Maneesh.

Filmed by RSU / Agencja Vizualna, this film presents a sneak preview of what is to come on the ‘Live at SpaceFest!’ album and the story behind Pure Phase Ensemble 6. Every December during Gdansk’s illustrious SpaceFest!, an eclectic group of musicians from across Poland are joined by a guest curator from abroad to form Pure Phase Ensemble. The group’s makeup constantly changes, guided by the artistic vision of a new curator every year and directed by Karol Schwarz of Nasiono Records who has been responsible for its musical cohesion from the very outset.

Through improvisation at a workshop organized by Nasiono Records and SpaceFest!, the musicians produce a set of unique songs during a week-long workshop ahead of the festival at the Laznia 2 Centre for Contemporary Art in the city’s Nowy Port district, seeking inspiration amidst its post-industrial atmosphere. The festival then culminates in this music being performed and recorded in real time for the inevitable album release.

Anton Newcombe espoused one rule for this experiment – that there are no rules when making music… and one standard… “get weirder… be heavy. and dreamy. but not pointless”.
Pure Phase Ensemble 6 is comprised of 8 musicians, including six from emerging Polish alternative bands: 
Karol Schwarz (7faz, KSAS) – guitar, vocals
Olga Myslowska (Polpo Motel) – vocals, keyboard
Maciej Karminski (Jesien) – drums
Marcin Lewandowski (Judy’s Funeral, Castlings, Soon) – bass guitar
Jakub Zwirello (Oslo Kill City, Szezlong) – guitar
Kacper Graczyk (Aiodine, coding) – electronic beats, synths, backing vocals

“I prefer to hear the sound bouncing off the walls and most festivals are outside and have time limits and various handicaps…I am more or less a jazz folk guy, I’m not an entertainer there to jump up and down and get you pumped…I just do as I feel…,”says Anton Newcombe. “I see myself as an idea person. I play like 80 instruments in as many ways as I can reinvent them because I am not a virtuoso… I want to contribute to Polish culture by writing at least one song that is worth listening to.”

In past incarnations of Pure Phase Ensemble, the group was curated by Mark Gardener (Ride), Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Ray Dickaty (Spiritualized), Steve Hewitt (Placebo), Jaime Harding (Marion), Chris Olley (Six By Seven), and Hugo Race (The Bad Seeds, The True Spirit). Nasiono Records’ very own Karol Schwarz (7faz, KSAS) has been responsible for the Ensemble’s musical cohesion from the very outset.

You can watch a preview of the forthcoming documentry here:

 

You want slow-buiding, psych-tinged shoegaze with a magnificent motorik groove? We’ve got it right here. Lifted from their upcoming debut album Call Them Brothers, it’s seven and three-quarter minutes of blissed-out, FX-laden alternative rock steeped in the haze of 90s greats like Ride and Chapterhouse. But enough preamble. Watch and listen. And enjoy.

Leonard Skully Records – 9th December 2016

James Wells

I’m growing rather weary of arty shots of naked or semi-naked women adorning the covers of releases by post-rock and shoegaze bands. And shit post-metal and post-hardcore bands. Everything’s post-something now, and I’m beyond weary of that. But we live in a click-bait world where adolescence is suspended in perpetuity, and despite the fact that everything’s freely available and as hardcore or strange as you want it at the click of a button, there’s still a certain lure in the risqué.

Call it art – and it should be possible to do so – but the prevalence of the practice makes it feel hollow, cheap and exploitative. ‘Yeah, let’s slap a chick on the cover of our meandering, ponderous post-rock EP… it’ll make us look arty and interesting and like we know photographers who can get girls to pose for them. Incidentally, I hate photographers as a rule, especially the ones who manage to make like they’re ‘safe’ aren’t sleazy… and no, not because I’m jealous. I really do just think they’re cunts.

The_Veldt_-_In_a_Quiet_Room

In a Quiet Room’, the single cut from The Veldt’s preposterously-titled The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation has an arty black and white head and shoulders shot of a woman, or a girl, by way of a cover. Apropos of absolutely bloody nothing. It certainly says nothing of the layered, textured, murky, glitchy, drum ‘n’ bass influenced soulful post-rock sonic expanses they conjure, the trickling cymbal work which grips a tight tension over squalling, drifting guitar treble on the EP’s opener ‘Sanctified’ or the shimmering post-rock / r’n’b crossover of said single ‘In a Quiet Room’.

Quite how comfortable I am with their seemingly incongruous but seamlessly smelted hybridity, I’m not sure, but there’s no faulting its execution. The Veldt get atmosphere, and they get sleekness. I’m not sure I get it, or the appeal, but it’s neatly executed and sounds nothing like the cover art suggests.

 

Veldt EP

ELaB Records – 10th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Being a teen of the late 80s and early 90s, I discovered curve through the pages of the music press as was, and absolutely bloody loved them. It’s perhaps hard to appreciate now, in these jaded, music-saturated ties, just how exciting it all was back then. I’m not disparaging the current music scene: far from it. I find new bands which excite me on a weekly basis. But that’s part of the problem: it’s all there, streams and links shared by friends and reviews rippling across social media within hours of posting by a single person of note. And said person of note can be anyone with a high media profile. Back then, it was all about the ability of a critic to capture the imagination, and then for the music fan to seek it out. If you were lucky, John Peel would be spinning something by the act in question. If not… well, you’d got legwork to do. If it sounds arduous, think again: it was fun. It was rewarding.

Anyway. Post-Curve, Dean Garcia formed SPC ECO with his daughter, Rose Berlin. The parallels between this current vehicle and Curve are abundant, to the extent that they require no comment: you can likely find those observations elsewhere all over the internet, and such duplication is such a bore.

What you want – need – to know is that this EP which features five tracks which break the mould: instead of bursting with compressed guitar and mechanised drum-machine led shimmering walls of sound, these are hushed sedate and understated works. Restrained and dreamily subdued as they are, they’re rich in atmosphere depth.

Instrumentally, ‘Under My Skin’ has hints of Moby and The XX about it.. It begins quietly, Rose’s voice close to the mic singing quietly and backed by only a brooding piano. But there are layers building beneath, with tapering synths and delicate reverb filling the space and the space between.

‘Creep in the Shadows’ is a weird one: the bloopy autotuned vocals are so heavily processed as to be essentially robotic, detached, unhuman, and they drift over a backing so minimal as to be barely there: a sparse beat clacks away way back in the distance as a super-low, dubby synthesised bass wanders at will. There’s practically nothing to get a hold of, and it’s so produced it’s hard to position. Contrast that with the lo-mo tri-hop dub of ‘Lt it Be Always’: murky beats and swampy bass conjure dark atmospherics while Berlin comes on like Beth Gibbons at her most hauntingly ethereal.

In its pursuit of the fragile and the paired-back, this EP is by no means SPC ECO’s most immediate release, and doesn’t offer the dynamics of some of their previous releases, but it does follow their recent trajectory which has seen the duo create music of an increasingly claustrophobic, hushed intensity.

 

SPC ECO - Under My Skin