New Music Review – We All Die! What A Circus! – Until The Cosmos Takes Me Back

a1985838075_10Artist: We All Die! What A Circus!
Album: Until The Cosmos Takes Me Back
Genre: Post-rock, ambient
Social-media: Facebook/Soundcloud/Bandcamp

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We All Die! What A Circus!, is the ambient, musical project of one João Guimarães from Portugal that started last year and has recently (September) put out his debut full length LP, Until The Cosmos Takes Me Back. Guimarães makes mostly ambient, post-rock, drone music that I’ve been finding incredibly immersive because of some fantastic work with pacing, texture and atmosphere.

To be honest, I think it’s rather difficult to talk to in depth about this album without someone actually listening to it. It’s described as “something timeless and endless in every proportion and every direction distinctive-ambient sound can travel”, it could just be me, but it sounds like something very personal to Guimarães and I can respect that this is why he’s still put this out there and for a name your price, price.

That being said, I’ll give talking about this a damn good go!

Until The Cosmos Takes Me Back, is a deeply atmospheric release that would work perfectly as a soundtrack to some post-apocalyptic movie with its minor sounding tunes that focus heavily on guitar and background noise to keep up a sinister vibe. That being said, the album is made up entirely of these darkly sounding soundscapes with splashes of guitar, great guitar mind you, and it can get somewhat repetitive.

I think the album could have really immersed me if there was more variety to listen to, some richer, less dry sounding synths . I think the only tracks that seemed to stick out, with their interesting sounds, were Ancient Blood, the ghost star interludes and And Only Then We Accepted Death As An Oak. Ancient Blood has these flutes (?) being played, some choral spots and even some baby crying at the end – it all blends scarily well together during the outro and is a genuinely creepy track that set my expectations up for some more experimental uses of sampling.

While I do think some of the effects are used in moderation, I also can’t help but notice a certain type of delay that doesn’t compliment the style of these tunes a few times. You’ll hear it on: We Saw Our Blood Turn Into Dust, From India To Gaza II, Our Dust Turned Into This and Through This Empty Canvas We Almost Found The Light. It’s this delay that sparkles, if you hear it, you’ll know what I mean, and I think for this general mood of loneliness and isolation that I’m getting with Until The Cosmos Takes Me Back, I think it needs to be toned down.

Otherwise, the album isn’t overly produced; it sounds airy and makes use of reverb carefully, without me thinking of an empty cave every time I hear the tracks.  I think the track And Only Then We Accepted Death As An Oak, makes careful use of effects – it’s also the first and only time I can recall where distortion is used on anything, which makes it somewhat more effective. There are also some rather squeaky sounding guitars near the end which are pleasant. Which goes for the same on a lot of these tracks, everything feels very easy to listen to, nothing scares you off or is abrasive, everything is just nice and accessible to listen to.

Final Notes:

An immersive listen that will ensure a few listens, if only so you can catch everything that’s going on in this album. However, it can run rather dry and long with some of the longer tracks that seem to gather dust over the synths quicker than an abandoned house. Still, worth your time for the guitar, the lovely textures and the very post-rock track, And Only Then We Accepted Death As An Oak.

New Music Review – nnord – Funeral

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Band: nnord
Song: Funeral
Genre: Ambient, drone, soundscape
Social Media: Facebook/Bandcamp

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nnord are a French ambient project that I have talked about previously (see here) and back in June they put out their debut LP, Orbital. This release was incredibly atmospheric and moody; it had a lot of good and interesting sounds on it that kept me listening through some of the more challenging minutes. Now, a few months later, a new song has been released, which more of a collection of songs all is rolled into one titled Funeral.

This release clocks in at just over 20 minutes, it’s has five parts and it follows similar ground to that of Orbital. However, this time around, everything feels much more minimal and much more drone bits going on. You could even say that the album art is as descriptive of this release, as my words can be; it’s monotone. Throw away any thoughts of colour and happiness, this song is dreary.

Funeral is best suited to funerals, the synths and sounds here are all hugely low and have various drones and other bits of feedback going on. There’s also some percussion in the background during, what I assume is, the first half. The subtle touches on the percussion are nice, but I think a lot more may have been needed to just chunk this release out some more. As it is now, everything feels too minimalistic and the songs need some more depth to their sounds.

As it continues evolving, you can hear some organs (?) which I think are probably the most interesting sounds on this song, that and the clean keys at the halfway mark. To me, it feels a shame that there isn’t more here to listen to, the touches here and there don’t really interest me and if it feels like a longer version of the songs I didn’t enjoy off of Orbital. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t feel like there’s a decent enough pay off to justify the length of this song.

But that’s drone and it is possible I do just not understand, but right now, this release isn’t capturing me.

Final Comments:

There is some good content in here, but I just think it could be cut down so much. Right now, it just feels like just a bit too much foreplay with some uninteresting synths and some occasional percussion. I know nnord are capable of so much more than this.

New Music Review – BJM Mario Bajardi – Inverse

InverseEPArtist: BJM Mario Bajardi
EP: Inverse
Genre: Electronic, ambient
Social-media: Facebook/Soundcloud/Twitter/iTunes

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BJM Mario Bajardi is an electro-acoustic composer of many talents and projects going on all at once. Most notable, right now, is his work on the film score to the upcoming indie movie, Sweetheart. Recently, Bajardi also released a song called, Crusty, that was set to feature on his new EP, Inverse, which was dropped on the 28th of November. You can take a look at that song, over on the Soundcloud, OR, you can continue reading and find out what I thought about Inverse and the rest of its tracks. Either way, you should probably keep reading, because my opinion matters, somewhat.

From the beginning, Inverse is full of depth with its sound, each song is dense with thick ambient textures, lush instrumentation and some rather wonderful violin playing. The tracks on here that I’d consider more ‘beautiful’ than the others stand out with some ideal melodies and textures. Obviously, Crusty is one of these tracks in my opinion, with its distorted piano chords, twisted and swishing synths going on – It’s a mess, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Missing is also very comparable to this with these as it starts off with some simple violin plucking’s and then works around that. This piece feels very neo-classical with some gorgeous violin playing and other barres of strings going off to emphasise the movements. There’s also the track, Standing, another killer example of some fancy string work.

That being said, the real bad boys of this album are the strange and slightly warped electro sounds that you get on tracks like Interlude and the title track, Inverse. They do house, again some violin, but these songs focus much more on the electro side. With Inverse, dancing with some guttural bass sounds and a keyboard fiddling, the track folds and twists around some very basic elements until you get something not so basic.

This seems to be what Bajardi relishes to working, at least in my opinion – the order in his mental chaos. I think that this is when his work truly comes to life and becomes it’s most interesting state of affairs. Inverse is an incredibly detailed track, but it’s also, as I said before, a mess when it loses its marbles all over the shop. The prettier sounding tracks like Standing and Crusty show why this guy is so comfortable working with soundtracks, whereas the tracks like Inverse and Interlude show a darkly versatility that I think is essential for someone that has their fingers in as many projects as Bajardi.

My only real complaint with this EP is the first track, Rest. It didn’t grab me at all and the featuring singer Eleza didn’t take my fancy either, but I can certainly see why other people might like her voice. But yeah, this track just seems to be so basic and rather humdrum when compared to the other tracks on this EP, which are all rather great. Even the remix of Crusty by Carlo Ascrizzi is interesting and adds some great depth to the track and changes enough for it to be worth multiple listens. That being said, I do still prefer the original.

Final Notes:

BJM Mario Bajardi has created an killer EP that shows off all the flare this guy can pull off with synths, strings and a few simple percussions. The darkly, the elegant and the disorganised all flourish in Inverse and it’s just overall a charming and pleasant listen. Despite a false start Bajardi has created a wonderful first release. Top banana!

New Music Review – The White Mega Giant – TWMG

a0215946163_10Band: The White Mega Giant
Album: TWMG
Genre: Post-rock
Social-media: Facebook/Bandcamp/Twitter

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The Mega White Giant or, TWMG as we will now call them to save words, are an Italian post-rock, electronic band that have an incredibly spacey vibe about them with their mass of effects, loops and walls of sound engulfing listeners. They put out their first album back in December 2011, Antimacchina, which had a typical post-rock sound with lots of crisp guitars and echoing delay, marching bass, epic drums – post-rock through and through. However, TWMG have recently put out their latest album, TWMG, which takes things in a similar direction, but with some more subtleties and electronic elements thrown in that make for an interesting and deep listen.

There’s a much larger focus on textures this time around and it shows, with moody walls of atmosphere and some rather grand screens of distortion. I mean, the album starts with a two part song called Hubots – the first song is an extremely slow build-up, with a thick synth wavering around for a minute until you get some effected vocals coming in. Then the song grows around this quiet guitar and piano; it’s a good intro, but the second part steals the show with the massive wall of distortion and stunning guitar melodies that stomp on for a good three minutes, until it fades into the next song: Heart Beat Quantize.

This track is atmospheric, everything sounds very airy and dreamy and ambient with the way it’s been produced, but not in a tarty over-the-top way. The drums on Heart Beat Quantize are incredibly simple for the first part of the song, even after they’re not much different, but the idea that the drums are this minimal for so much of the song is brave. It does kind pay off, but it would have been nice to see a bigger, more bombastic pay-off for the drums at the end of this track.

I’d say that the other more ambient focused tracks on this record do suffer from being somewhat forgettable when compared to some of the majestic walls of sound you have on TWMG. Songs like Pulse Rate and Meccatronica sound great with the buzzy synths mixed with looping noises (they almost sound like 65daysofstatic), but then shorter tracks like Analog and Automaton are just kind of there. Considering how adept this lot seem at using textures and some gorgeous melodies, it’s just a shame that these tracks didn’t stand out as much as they could have.

Final Notes:

Despite some dull ambient tracks, TWMG do succeed in creating immersive atmospheres that have some interesting twists to the. The final track Meccatronica is wonderful, in its colourful wall of sound that feels as strong and immediate as TWMG can be. I can honestly say that I think TWMG are at their best when they’re building their music into these tasty goliaths of music that soar majestically through the airwaves.

New Music Review – HAU – HAU

Hau-ep-coverBand: HAU
EP: HAU
Genre: Noise-rock, electronic, abrasive-core
Social-media: Bandcamp/Soundcloud/Blogspot

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HAU are a noise-rock, abrasive-core, band from Greece. The sound behind these guys is one of angered percussion, destructive guitar, ugly vocals and brief dabbles in electronic elements, such as synth work and sampling (?). Put all of this together and you get a very cut-throat act that refuses to pander to any strict structure or reason. Back in May of this year, HAU put out their first EP, which was also a self-titled EP and these are my thoughts on said EP:

The animalistic nature behind HAU is very comparable to that of bands like Lightning Bolt, with their incomprehensible, heavily effected, lyrics, jagged stringed instruments and pounding percussion – everything is just GO, from the start with both these bands. When HAU are playing to their strengths, they are incredibly effective and satisfying to listen to, especially when you enjoy the moaning guitar as much as I do. However, there is still a rather diverse selection of sounds on this EP – both Pattern 5 and Pattern 7, are messy noise-rock charges on your ears, but the other two tracks are much more experimental.

Cunts & Needles (with A†D) is a slow boiling track that slithers around with some sporadic drumming and some almost alien-like vocals. Oh, and the way, these alien-like vocals don’t just occur on this track, they’re a persistent presence throughout, which is fine, they suit the style of music perfectly. But yeah, the track itself fiddles with various electronic improvisations that feel very unsettled at times, as they just flicker around with the occasional percussion – It’s a difficult track to pin down. By the end though, it’s just as loud and proud as the Pattern tracks.

These Pattern tunes are my favourite tracks on this release, without a shadow of a doubt. The guitars a bass sounds on Pattern 5 and Pattern 7 are incredible and the way that they take no prisoners with their approach to their music, is just phenomenal. If you enjoy vicious sounding… everything, you need to listen to these songs, they are ruthless and unforgiving – the way this sort of music should be.

Norma, is also a hard track to strip down to something more than, ‘experimental’ and ‘woah’. It’s probably the most eccentric track on the album, mainly because it starts out so deceptively quiet, with brief flickers of drums and synth screeches, with some very sudden and haunting stabs of synth latter in the track. But then, halfway through the track unrolls completely into a real horror of intimidating vocals, primal beats and more stabs. Norma is probably the most fidgety track on this release, it just can’t sit still for more than three minutes!

What HAU have done with this release is set a very chilling bar for themselves that will lead to, hopefully, more music that’s as angry and powerful as this.

Final Notes:

HAU’s self-titled EP is everything that you’re afraid of listening to and proud of it. It’s malicious sounding songs are immediate and have a forceful staying power and if you like any kind of hard music, then you should check these guys out.

New Music Review – Vapour Night – Vapour Night

a3854146572_10Artist: Vapour Night
Album: Vapour Night
Genre: Shoegaze,ambient, post-rock
Social-media: Facebook/Bandcamp/Soundcloud

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Vapour Night is the musical, shoegaze, post-rock and ambient music project of Ali Murray, a singer-songwriter from Scotland, that also has another (rather dreamy, ambient, folk-like affair) musical project under his own name – you can check that out here. Today though, we’re going to be focusing on his self-titled, Vapour Night release from last year. Louder Than War have described this release by saying: ‘The sound skilfully treads a fine line between distortion and haunting melodies which are particularly evocative of these short days’. I don’t often quote other sources in my reviews, but in this case, I find the reference to be true to a certain extent.

Vapour Night’s self-titled does move between moments of extreme distortion and sound, to some rather gorgeous melodies, like on the second track, The Pulse: this song has some contrasting electronic drums and some very well-produced guitar. The song has this really neat and clean guitar line that get’s more and more tense as the song goes on, until there’s this massive explosion of distortion and noise at the end. I think it’s times like this where I think Vapour Night is at it’s most brave and powerful – the loud and cut-throat is what makes this release stand out. Even the track Knowing It’s The End sounds vibrant with it’s great use of chords, although the bass and vocals are rather forgettable. The tracks Wings Ablaze and Cruel Weather, also sound incredibly loud and bold with their masses of distortion thrown on.

That’s not to say the clean and slower moments are bad, but they can feel a bit more lifeless than these Goliath tracks of distortion. I’d say the main offenders are Below Zero (although I did like the synth on this track a lot, it just needed something else) and until the guest vocals come in, the track, Night Flower. I felt a little bit lost by the instrumental at the end of Night Flower as well, it was like I could have got a lot more from the track if the instrumental at the end was just trimmed down.

Thankfully, Vapour Night manages to hold interests for the rest of the album as the other clean tracks are gripping, like the gorgeous guitar and vocals of Natali. Natali very much feels like the token acoustic track, but enough is going on, especially towards the end to keep my ears interested with it’s bittersweet sound of pretty guitars and quietly sobbing strings. I also really liked the track, Until We Fall Away, which feels like an incredibly chill neo-lounge track – the guitar here is just wonderful.

This is something that deserves touching down on – the use of guitar tone on this album is great. On tracks like Knowing It’s The End, Until We Fall Away, Natali and The Pulse all have amazing sounding guitars. However, with these fantastic sounding guitars comes another gripe about the sound – the vocals can at times sound stale from time to time, the drums too. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen to often and Murray really pulls it out of the bag, vocally, on the later moments of Wings Ablaze, The Pulse and Natali. Otherwise, the drums and the bass are mostly forgotten on this release, which is a shame, since I think it could really buff out some of the songs on here.

Final Notes:

I did like this album and it is worth a listen for the incredible atmosphere that Murray is capable of conceiving in tracks like Until We Fall Away and Cruel Weather (opposite ends of the sonds spectrum too). If you’re into experimental post-rock, shoegaze music that dances a very thin line between sounds, then this album is for you. It’s brave, at times and it sounds consistently strong through the guitar.