Friday, July 8, 2016

Sun Body - Sun Body (2016)

What a beautiful name. Sun Body. Sounds like the band wanted to send a message, perhaps of modest solipsistic essence. I'll take the cover as just that too. 

Saying hi from New Jersey, Sun Body thrive in what is sometimes identified as shoegaze, or maybe ambient post-rock. Again, I'm using hard-to-define genres that are rather there to confuse than clarify. "So how does it sound? Is there any , say, Sigur Rós or Caspian, or Gates, or even Alcest in it? Is there anything for us to find there?".

What is certainly there is quasi-droning textures. Timbral, but not indefinite, with the marvellous bass setting the tone. Hearing the album again and again, I find it to be a collection of doomed, hopeless remarks, a personified desert if you will, aesthetically closer to GYBE! or Aidan Baker than anything else. Throw some Mono for good measure too, just for the attitude. Forget any 'Dream Pop' implications, if anything, this is nightmare pop. It is overall really rewarding and refreshing, for it makes the listener feel, well, alone. Abandoned. As we are. To the end. That's what it did to me anyway. The spacey production contributes to the album's necessary bleakness for in all, what remains is just agony and there's nothing for you to help you elude it.

Humble or pragmatists as they appear, Sun Body would not require of anyone to pay for access to their music. But you can make a gesture, show them not all is forlorn. Not as long as we are still around.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Nicotina es Primavera - Animal Cerámico (2016)

This is a masterpiece. It is indeed so rare to come across so balanced pieces of music, regardless of the style or perspective. Nicotina es Primavera (what a name, what connotations it is invoking to an ex-smoker) is a highly energetic bunch of creatives from Peru and Argentina. On the first couple of listens I roughly categorised their output within the Avant-prog frame being both correct and misleading. The "genre" is so loose in its meaning that anything could practically fit in.

It is the blend that counts (not a smoking pun I assure you). Animal Cerámico is as adventurous as the best ones within the genre, and also much more than that. It is possible that my Avant-prog knowledge(as well as its sub-genres) is limited and I'm set to take the hit. Being a balanced album, the ranging disciplines flow from chamber music to Rock in Opposition, to free jazz (although the improvs sound more constructed than abstract). Everything is intertwined at points and is certainly executed at its highest caliber. Add that if they told me this is a live recording I'd fall for it.

If I had to draw a certain parallel, I would say that it reminds me more of a sunny and optimistic Univers Zero than anything else. This though does not do any justice, since I find Nicotina... to be absolutely unique. The dissonances, the melodies and the contrapuntal and often complex harmonies here support the light rather than the darkness. I needed that. I'm also not sure when I last listened to an outfit that employs its dynamics so well, so inventively. Or that interchanges between styles, patterns and rhythmic intelligence so smoothly. I dare say it again, this is a masterpiece!!

Be a part of their energy here:

Last but not least, the lads and lassies offer their work for free to those who will appreciate it. Give it a listen and if you like it (if you've read so far you will), support their genius!!

Buy the album, embrace the artist!!! You can do so here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Spire - Live in Bergen (2014)

Give the peasants wine and they still want dirty water. Or that's what's inscribed within this project's tape release that celebrates exaltation through music, the type of liturgical, high medieval music which teaches humbling. What's praised here the way I see it, is the power of the organ. Not to be mistaken, the Spire is a church organ collective, specialising in drawing drone and ambient music exactly where it should be played, the church.

Behold the track listing:

A1: Charles Matthews plays JS Bach “Komm, Heiliger Geist”
A2: Charles Matthews plays Giacinto Scelsi “In Nomine Lucis”
A3: BJNilsen and John Beaumont “Black Death” 
B1: The Eternal Chord “The Eternal Chord (Live)”
B2: Marcus Davidson “Ananta”
B3: The Spire Ensemble “Live In Bergen”
B4: Charles Matthews plays Arvo Pärt “Pari Interval”

This should give an impression what to expect, but if it fell short, the video below will do the job. I will not lie here, the primary reason I bought the tape is A3: a project featuring John Beaumont's conjuring tenor voice over BJ Nilsen's electronic wizardry. The rest are of powerful meditative/humbling quality (Beaumont doubles on another track too), but the Black Death is... just magnificent.

I shall blabber no more. Take Mike Harding's (courtesy of the collective) word for it:

It is impossible not to be drawn upward, whether towards the spire of the church or cathedral or to the huge and daunting forest of pipes themselves. The organ dwarfs all comers, and unlike other instruments, it is this non-musical element which makes the organ stand apart.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dan Phelps - Arc (2016)

This just came in and truth be told, I was anticipating it like crazy. In fact, I had this expectation that it would be greater than 2011's Modular, which I consider to be a cornerstone in, let's call it, groovy ambient. Or modern tribal manipulations. Who cares about labels anyway? I know I don't. Honest.

I must say that I had not preordered it, or sneak-peek on snippets but I was patiently waiting to buy it on its release date, or what was May 17, 2016 (there's a chance I bought it the day after, oh well). So essentially I knew nothing about the album's orientation or whatever, I just had a feeling it would be Phelpsy. What I surely knew though, and I would too be to excited to hide it if I was Dan, is that the drums are handled by none other than mr. Jim Keltner. Jim Keltner. Phew. You know, that dude you've been dancing to his grooves even if you were unaware. I'll just name a few: The King (huh, that King), CSNY, the Beatles minus Sir Paul (of course I'm talking personal bug albums here), Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, and the list goes on. Jim Keltner.

As Dan puts it, he wanted to improvise with mr. Keltner, and well who doesn't right? As such, the songs took shape around those sessions and since, they had been manipulated to reach their current form. Atop of the improvs, several exquisite musicians tagged along to result in a very thick, very groovy, very much forward record. Some songs involve 3 drummers simultaneously (and yes judas, this has a certain aural purpose) while others flow from a Frisell-type-of-mantric-groove to a fucking suite of sorts (call me bunker). Awesome strings arrangements. Damn me this proves to be a masterpiece.

Somewhere in the liner notes, Dan describes that by revisiting this, he gets visions, shapes and colours. He's right. To me it sound like a beast that takes up space in your emotional hard drive and occupies certain neurons while modifying certain interconnections at different sonic times. As of this writing, I've listened to the album maybe 15-20 times. There are parts and feelings I swear they were not there previously. Say what? I'll know more about it later. How much later? No idea.

You got a clue hopefully. You'll love it. Really. SUPPORT the artist here!!!

It Grows On You from Dan Phelps on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

El Doom & the Born Electric - Selftitled (2012)

The way I've set my mind around this very blog, makes it rare, really rare that I wrote a review before owning the actual album first, in physical or digital format, doesn't matter to me.

Let me introduce my daily routine. I start working too early, earlier than my colleagues, earlier than people in my hometown some 4,000 km away, earlier than people living on the other hemisphere. It's awesome as I get to listen to music all the time. The awful part is that due to some inexplicable condition I'm suffering from, I must change album lists often. It's called boredom. Thus, I literally listen to a shitload of albums every day, new, old, classic, unknown or famous it's really up to the moment. Some of them I buy.

Today I forgot refreshing my list. Damn! In despair I started searching on spotify and my eye landed on El Doom & the Born Electric. Stupid band name. I gave it a shot anyway, there was no time really. In the first couple minutes it occurred to me that this shares the metallic tendencies the Ghost are known for, minus the horrible pizza toppings. I hate Ghost. Anyhoo I was wrong. Not about the toppings.

Boy was I lucky though! As the songs played through I would be gradually falling for with it. I was hearing all those I've been so far grateful for: Rush, David Bowie, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mars Volta, David Bowie again, Radiohead, Opeth, Tool, some 16 Horsepower agony. All these, in no particular order or magnitude, in such dosage and with such ardor that makes up for a totally unique release. God I LOVE EL DOOM. And the Born Electric no doubt! Add some heavy/power metal implications here and there, not the wanker kind though. This shit is progressive rock at its VERY finest! Why the hell was this unknown to me??

I shouldn't forget the stellar personnel here. Besides Ole Petter Andreassen, the mastermind, singer and guitar player, I was amazed to find out that Hedvig Mollestad is handling the hammond plus some guitar duties. Brynjar and Haavard Takle Ohr of El Cuero fame are present on guitar and drums respectively. The real cookie though is Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen and Ståle Storløkken from Elephant9 on bass. Nikolai's among my fave bass players and Ståle is also in Supersilent and a conductor? I think. Ok. Psyched! Other guests include Mikael Lindquist on Mellotron and the monster Jon Eberson on guitar. Nuff said. ENOUGH!!

Listen to the magnificent closer and feel free to order this MASTERPIECE here. Oh and last but surely not least, El Doom are supposed to deliver their sophomore as of this year, 2016. Can't wait! Thanks Ole Petter!

UPDATE: You know an album is a classic one when each day a different track dominates your speakers and you eagerly await for your vinyl copy, even though no turntable is available.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Matt Chamberlain - Comet B (2016)

Matt Chamberlain is the musician's musician as well as the musician's musician's musician. Well, you get the picture. The guy has played a vital role in so many collaborations that his own website can't keep track! His overwhelming resume includes, among others, Bill Frisell, Robert Fripp, Pearl Jam (just a short stint), Fiona Apple, Critters Bugging', Soundgarden, the Wallflowers... aaaaargh IT'S JUST TOO MANY! The list is practically endless...

Comet B is the versatile drummer's latest output under his name. I won't lie, this to me was the single most anticipated album of the year and the best insofar. The vibes dispersed throughout showcase Matt's sensitivities and I would label the effort as ultimately-groovy-modern-traditional-music (no hashtags) or ancient-turntablism-in-space (still no hashtags). There are some shamelessly (while meticulously) combined sounds that would otherwise take me by surprise (i.e. mellotron vs. lap steel). Alas it's all so natural! It shall be no exaggeration to say that Comet B contains some of his finest compositions so far (and the bar had already been set high).

Somewhere here is where I would like to note that what I love most about Matt is his drums sound. Yeah he is a monster anyway, among the finest and most eclectic too but, what is really inimitable is the warm welcome of that snare drum, or his bass drum roar. You will just have to delve into it. Roll with it. And make sure you let the music take you wherever and whenever it is supposed to take you. 


Support the artist. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

AOVL - Absence of Visible Light (2016)

I'm back! And boy do I bring good stuff! Here's to breaking my silence with a release that's the next best thing to... silence. AOVL, standing for Absence of Visible Light, is the brain product of CJ Larsgården of Yrsel fame (that doom/ambient outfit). 

What's on here is dark, engaging and ritualistic drone designed to help explore those distant chambers in your head. The context is being kept relatively minimal, and by that open to individualistic interpretation. Whichever your purpose in life, lo!, sign up for a cathartic experience.

As ever, mere words won't describe what this release has to offer, so to wrap up, there are plenty of choices for you to follow and celebrate. You may order the tape version by Do you Dream of Noise?. If so, I'll be a clicksaver, it's right here. Note that AOVL is the very first release by the label, limited to 50 copies.

Or you might be the anti-materialistic type and maybe in this case you'd just love to support the artist. Awesome! Here's the bc page. And last, but certainly not least, you may just want to sense the flavour, or let the music travel you a bit say, on your up and coming train trip. Thus, you may stream here.

Spread the word!!