New Music Review – RedWater – Day 1

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Artist: RedWater
Album: Day 1
Genre: Electronic, ambient
Social media: Soundcloud/Bandcamp

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Let’s do some more ambient/electronic music, because why not? I mean I’m totally getting encapsulated within it recently with all this Boards of Canada and such.

RedWater, is the instrumental, electronic project of this Utah based produced that has previously released two other bits (an EP and another LP) both of which sound surprisingly different to RedWater’s most recent effort, the effort we’re looking at today, Day 1. When I say different, I don’t mean anything leaps and light-years away from the previous sound, but there’s a bigger focus on some interesting synth textures and percussion than the previous album, Natural Division.

Every track on this little album feels like an intimate little snapshot of RedWater’s life and composition style, and because of this, nothing ever feels too similar. From the poppy/lounge feel of Second Chance, to the largely progressive electronics going on in Temporary Permanence, you’ll find a brief little moment to fall for. Even the tracks I’d consider to be lesser than the others still have aspects that make them interesting and worth listening to – Entropy and the Intervals didn’t particularly thrill me, but I appreciated some of the fascinating aspects in each tune. I mean Entropy almost sounds industrial at times and that’s sweet when you consider the majority of the material here is all rather major sounding.

The End Of April, also contrasts this major sound well by being one of the more serene tracks that I’ve heard this year.

I guess if we’re nit-picking, I’d like to nit-pick at the intro to Day And Night, it seems to go on way to long with some rather plain piano and synth chords before things take a more interesting turn later in the song. However, I do like the erratic percussion on this track and the twinkling arpeggios in the second half… Oh and the skanky beat that in the second half as well. Oh, I suppose the track RedWater is a little dull when compared to the rest as well…

Final Thoughts:

I don’t really have much to say on this album because I think it’s worth your time in its gorgeous simplicity. Day 1 is varied, curious and delightful for it’s short playtime, so why not at least give it a quick listen? If you like music from electronic producers, or you love music you can stick on in the background while you enjoy a book, grab this album. It’s a name your price album and it’s worth however much you can give RedWater and then some.

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New Music Review – Helicopter Quartet – Ghost Machine

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Band: Helicopter Quartet
Album: Ghost Machine
Genre: Post-rock, ambient, dark ambient
Social Media: Facebook/Twitter/Bandcamp

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One year ago I reviewed the album, Leading Edges, by Leeds dark ambient duo, Helicopter Quartet. Leading Edges was dark, dismal and oppressive, but with a post-rock leaning in some of the songs, which created this, thankfully, not stock post-rock sound that’s being pushed everywhere these days. And so, one year on from Leading Edges and Helicopter Quartet have released their new album, Ghost Machine. Let’s start things off by saying that, the dark ambient is fully out on this release, darkly teeth gnashing and snarling with the frightening viola and synth tones produced by Chrissie Caulfield.

The oppressive and dreary nature of the songs on Ghost Machine has been turned way up and never have these two sounded so doomed. Romanze is looks like it would be right at home in a post-apocalyptic soundtrack, very akin to that of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but without the monolith run times and bombastic build-ups. The guitar from Michael Capstick and the viola work on this track are so damning and remind me eternally of East Hastings by GY!BE, but dronier and less driving than that track. Because of this droning, it can be rather hard to listen to casually. To truly enjoy this track, or any of them, you have to be paying attention, or at least not doing anything that takes up to much RAM, because this music requires your attention.

This mood strikes me as the kind of atmosphere that this album is hitting. All of the tracks seem a lot longer than they really are, but this gives a feeling that each of the creeping sounds in each song has a chance to grow. Cortege, is the best example of these dark tones shifting and growing throughout the song. The guitar contrasts with the massive and constant booming here and even the viola has moments of not sounding likes it’s been bathing in complete despair. This track travels in a lot of different ways in a lot of very subtle manners. The booming on this track did make me wish for a bit more percussion though, as a tool to help break things up a little bit.

Even with so few instruments blaring off in this mix, it sounds like a lot is going on, but I think there’s room in there for more, nothing large and obnoxious, but something subtle to help space things out.

Just like last time, subtle is what these two are here to do – Each song starts with a little idea and grows from there in a carefully considered way. The title track starts with something being dropped and dragged along some strings and it grows from there. It’s like a machine winding up and getting ready to haunt your ass. When this song is ready to haunt your ass, about halfway through, it lets you know and catches you off guard. It made me jump the first time I heard it, but I’m a complete wuss.

Final thoughts:

This album is massively comparable to the last one, but it does do enough for me to think that it treads interesting enough ground for it to not get boring. This Leeds duo has managed to pull off dark and oppressive even darker and more oppressive than last time, but I would like some more percussion play next time, something of a personal preference, but something breaking up this massive textures would be more than welcome.

New Music Review – Bettenhaus Ryne – Calculation​:​twenty​-​three Authority (Single Version)

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Artists: Bettenhaus Ryne
Single: Calculation​:​twenty​-​three Authority
Genre: Synth wave/industrial/glam rock
Social media: Facebook/Bandcamp

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The neo-80s/synthwave trend has been going around for a few years now to differing levels of success. My main problem with it is that despite some fun sounding synths and punchy percussion, it usually tends to get repetitive rather sharpish. Which is why I can’t stand listening to it for more than a few minutes. However, I do love artists like PerturbatorLe Matos and of course, the Hotline Miami soundtrack still does it for me whether I’m playing the game or hyping myself up.

Today, we have Bettenhaus Ryne, a Cincinnati based 80s influenced glam rock, synth pop, early industrial project that released a new single on the 6th of June, Calculation​:​twenty​-​three Authority. The single is from an, as of yet, unnamed album that will be released at an, as of yet, unannounced time, so for now, I’ll just stick to the single.

First aspect I notice is how different the production is to most mainstream synth-wave style acts that feel the need to go over the top with production and volume. Here we have some slow building ambiance that quickly blurts towards some effective percussion that isn’t (thank God) some overzealous barrage of thunderous beats. I adore how industrial the song sounds with it’s ominous synths, that house this subtle touch that a lot of producers miss the point of. Yet it still manages to keep this driving nature about it that works with the chase/driving atmosphere that the artists is recreating here. Fitting to this atmosphere is the dirt and grime that a lot of these sounds manage to pick up as they role along – the guitars are probably the cleanest sounding thing on this single and ever they’re distorted!

I think the guitar leads work well here as well – they’re not too reverb heavy and serve as another layer in the measured bricks of sound. Couple this with the synths rolling up and down, there’s some serious sinister sounding material here. This actually fits nicely with whole, dystopian themes that are often approached in these styles of songs, however, this track is not camp in the way that a lot of these tracks are. For an example of this camp and overly produced (not always bad) style, just check out anything on the Miami Cannibal Massacre mixtape that’s floating around on the internet. Again, I’m loving the grit and rough sound of this song as well as the vocals that fuzz in for a few seconds that pulls this track away from the trashy side of ‘clean’ industrial/synth music made in honour of the 80s.

Final Thoughts:

This track does 80s style production proud and sets up a great scene for the rest of the album that I’d be very enthusiastic to hear. It’s themes are firmly rooted and a delight to listen to whether your cruising from the cops, or chilling at home with your shutter-shade sunglasses. Keep an eye out for the album coming soon (hopefully).

Music I’ve Liked During My Absence

I was missing in action for a few months ago until recently, so everyone has missed the opportunity to hear about some of my favourites from the past few months. This post is my attempt at remedying that. These albums won’t necessarily all be new, but you’ll get a good idea of what’s hip right now, in my opinion.

Let’s cut the foreplay and get to the nitty gritty.

Stuff from 2015

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Yeah, this album was good. This album might grow on me some more, but, until it does, good kid, m.A.A.d city was better. Come at me.

Lo! – The Tongueless

Jesus-tap-dancing-christ. This EP was a pleasent surprise when I heard it in all of it’s crushing, oblivion inducing heaviness. Sounds like a slightly less heavy Meshuggah, but that’s cool. Give this a listen if you like mathy-heavy-proggy metal goodness. Check out the video below too, it’s mental!

Rolo Tomassi – Grievances

UK mathcore band that has been subject to a line-up change recently, but have managed to remain faithful to their original sound whilst slipping a few more (Crazy) jazz moments in there. Holy shit, Opalescent may be one of my favourite tracks of 2015.

Hotline Miami 2 Soundtrack – Various Artists

Brilliant game, but fuck you hard-mode, with another incredible soundtrack. Despite there being a lot more tracks that I skip, it still houses some amazing synth-wave/neo-80s music. Now that I think about it, is weird, since the game is set in the very late half of the 80s and even, on occasion, in the 90s.

Vennart – Demon Joke

Vocalist/guitarist of Oceansize sets foot from under the shadow of Oceansize and his other project, British Theatre and shows off something special that has been missing from the world of music for the past few years. Eclectic, but not rough, Demon Joke demonstrates how a solo album can feel like anything but dull and by the numbers. It feels personal, bombastic and sometimes catchy, but always an absolute pleasure for my ears.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Euclid

Euclid has vibrant and fluid electronic tunes that will fulfil your desire for some bright ambient music and all while not being dull. Maybe something to let bloom from your speakers with the window open, not because you’re an asshole that wants everyone else to hear it, but because it’s getting closer to summer and damn, it’s hot sometimes!

Hop Along – Painted Shut

Loved band with their previous album and actually played it a fair bit when I use to be on the radio, but now it’s a new day! Painted Shut feels ambitious and hits on all the personal notes that you could want from front-lass Frances Quinlan. Special mention for the song Waitress, a bit of a giggle and I always enjoy relatable lyrics.

Stuff not from 2015

Board Of Canada – Geogaddi

I went on a bit of an ambient spree when I was away and let my ears take in some of the sound scenes that I’d missed before I got into music. I just loved how organic and interesting this whole album sounds with its warm nostalgic tones and wondrous use of samples; a recommendation for anyone that likes ambient or even electronic music.

Aerial M – As Performed By

This is the side project of former Slint (known for releasing one of the most influential post-rock albums ever, Spiderland) musician David Pajo and whilst it was released all the way back in 1997, I’ve just heard it. Lots of subtle and ambient guitar work for those bittersweet summer evenings tinged with orange sunlight.

Long Fin Killie – Houdini

Thanks to the Melvins, I can never really think about Houdini without thinking of gert-massive sludge tunes, but these experimental rockers shook that up. This album feels like an incrementally more abstract view on the life and times of Harry Houdini and with its lush and jazz instrumentation, you’ll continue to return to Houdini.

Isis – Panopticon

A heavy an outstanding post-metal album that I only came across recently, where it’s been for the rest of my life, I have no idea. By itself, a killer album, but whack it alongside it’s main theme that draws parallels between the original prison design by Bentham and what’s happening in contemporary society. Themes are dead fun.

New Music Review – Waveless – Hopelessness

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Artist: Waveless
EP: Hopelessness
Genre: Electronic, ambient, IDM
Social-media: Facebook/Twitter/Soundcloud/Bandcamp

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Hopelessness is the debut EP from Australian producer, Waveless, published through the electronic record label SVNSET WΛVES, on May 2nd. The label itself is one I’ve been working through recently, thanks to all the chilled releases that put their material up for a cool, ‘name your price’, price, so if you like what you hear at all, then don’t be afraid to contribute a to these hardworking artists.

Waveless has, like the title of the EP, a hopeless and melancholic sound. The chords are minor as fuck, the tempo crawls along and the instrumentation is so thick, it’s an emotionally heavy sounding EP that has a surprisingly large amount of colour in it. The second track here, Numb, is probably the most dreary piece of work, with its tragic keys and synths backing up the gorgeous guest vocals of self-confessed gloom-popper, Mothica (who is also rather talented). I think these vocals bring a lot to the table of Waveless’ compositions, if only to fill up the music a spell more.

That’s not to say that these songs are empty, but the vocals do Numb a lot of favours. There are subtle touches in these songs that fill them up adequately, but not to the extent of the vocals. For example, Hurricane, has some quaint arpeggios rolling up and down near the end; Forever Forgotten has lots of synth extras whirring off near the end; Oceanic had some vocal samplings during the outro. The format of these songs is predictable, but it gets the job done and each of these tunes has a thick sense of Hopelessness to them, except ESID, which didn’t strike me as particularly moody, but it was a cute little track.

I also liked the beats going on here, nothing complex, but for what this EP is, I don’t think they needed to be flashy at all, but what does matter is the use of synths and texture in this release.= and Waveless has some brilliant textures here. There’s a great sense of overwhelming textures that come hand-in-hand with the saddening chords and melodies here and it’s all channelled in a small period of time that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

Final thoughts:

Waveless says that ‘the EP aims to evoke a sense of emotional fatigue’ and it accomplishes that with some stunning synth work and killer manipulations of atmosphere. And although I don’t agree that these songs are, ‘The perfect soundtrack to drown to’, they do feel like the soundtrack to something less than favourable. But until that less than favourable thing happens, I’ll just enjoy the laid back ambiance of them though – a must for anyone that favours the chilled side of electronic music.

New Music Review – Kooba Tercu – S/T

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Band: Kooba Tercu
Album: Self-titled
Genre: Noise-rock, sludge
Social-media: Facebook/Bandcamp

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Today we’re looking at the latest self-titled album from Athens noise-rockers, Kooba Tercu, and it must be said, this is rather late, but I got sent this around about the time I went on my hiatus. So yeah, this has been a few months coming now and I’m hoping to get through my backlog of emails as fast as I can.

Kooba Tercu, are loud five piece noise-rock, sometimes sludgy metal band that’s fronted by lead maniac Johnny Tercu. These guys have played with some big names, such as the ritual rockers GOAT and it must be said that Kooba Tercu’s brand of heavy, eclectic and abrasive music fits this scene. This is their debut album and, well, how is it?

It’s somewhat of a grower, but also very instantaneous in its delivery to you. What I mean is the way these lot set up their songs is full of variety and life, but the sound can be abrasive, maybe too abrasive for some listeners, but even then, there’s probably something here for you to enjoy. There are some sludge tracks here, some more straight forward rock songs and even some proggy stuff. It’s this life that gives their self-titled an edge in the noise-rock scene. Let’s take the song, Squirting Squid, it’s a slow builder that predictably builds into a sudden barrage of heavy, but there’s this playful little interlude at the one and a half minute mark that knocks you off your feet for a few and if you’re not paying attention to how far into the song you are, you’d assume it’s over. Wrong.

Variety is the flavour of music and despite having one clear cut dish here, that tastes oscillates, depending on how far into the meal you are. Pebble is one of the few moments you’re allowed to catch your breath with some more reserved drumming and clean guitars, but even then, you’re still left on the edge of your seats awaiting the dip into distortion. It builds in an exciting manner and eventually crashes into these epic chords and mini guitar line, but then lapses back into the reserved flavour again. Elephant also flirts with flavoursome structure with its ever changing wall of noise and subtle but sinister outro.

The more punkish songs on this album are catchy and while they feel much less measured, I don’t doubt that they’re still incredibly measured and well thought out. Chika is one such punk – it starts with a phat bass and some peculiar guitar line with full on fuzz. The drums near the outro here are also nice and unconventional which brings some interesting sounds to the stage.

I love the instrumentation on this album has its visceral – the guitar chords and harmonics all sound vicious and the bass is cheeky. What really stands out here to me right now, is the drums and how much variety is thrown out, the intro to some of these tracks (Ukunta and Sonique) make use of chill drumming in the intros. The drumming is in no way typical of this genre and that goes down a treat when coupled with the instrumentation and the vocals from Kooba Tercu.

Final thoughts:

I’m not sure when Kooba Tercu are at their best, which is good, because they dabble in the punk, the sludge, the metal and some maths, but no matter what these guys are doing on the album, I seem to be enjoying it. Hell, loving it. This is an excellent album and you should hear it in all of its splendour -aggressive and precise the punk will keep you encapsulated, but you’ll slave away under the heavy sludge. The highlights are the proggy moments that you get from the likes of Squirting Squid, so give that one a whirl and I hope you love this album as much as I did.

New Music Review – Drones Club – –

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Band: Drones Club
EP: –
Genre: Indie-pop, post-pop
Social-media: Facebook/Twitter/Soundcloud/Official Website (Free download)

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Drones Club are a London based three-piece, indie-pop/self-described post-pop band that have their debut EP, -, available to download for free from their website. And yes, the album is simply called, -, not sure if that’s pronounced dash, hyphen or minus – answers on a postcard, please. The fact these guys are quoted as being both an art project and a band, give me the possibly negative impression that even if I don’t enjoy the EP, it could be because, ‘I just don’t get it’, but we’ll see.

There are some pleasing variations going on here, amongst the three tracks on this EP. The first track, Cabin Pressure, feels typically indie-pop with its simplified guitars, beats and synth work going on, whereas the closer Sphinx is some kind of jilted acid-house track. This variation works well, owing to the similar themes and instruments that’re used throughout and give these tracks a sense of familiarity that gives the EP some flow.

The instrumentation is crisp and the stabbing synths during Sphinx remain a highlight in this EP. Despite Sphinx taking such a jump in a different direction, it still fits with the sounds that the rest of this EP has provided. Notion is very much the middle child that’s ignored here, not by Drones Club, but by me. In comparison to the other tracks, this one is underwhelming and while I do understand the benefit of slower moments in music, it seems like this EP would have benefited much more from keeping a consistent pace.

Cabin Pressure has a catchy vocal and synth hook that play every so often and it fits nicely. Especially since the synth chords in Cabin Pressure are so lush and engrossing. The little breakdown in this song is a nifty little break, but isn’t all that stunning and doesn’t bring anything new until the end, where it devolves into the vocals and some bass synth. Really not digging the ‘De da da dada’ vocal snippets at the end though…

Final Thoughts:

Short and okay. Sphinx does this album so many favours and is so cool, but Notion is underwhelming and should have been some kind of gritty extended intro to Sphinx. But what Drones Club have done here is a cool start into what, I guess, is going to be an extended project and I’m sure they have plenty more to pull out of their collective sacks (haha). Considering the EP is free, give it a go and see what you think – it’s worth your time, if only for Sphinx and a few listens of Cabin Pressure.