Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Plini "Impulse Voices Remix" (2021)

Uncommon but more so unexpected, Australian musician Plini has collaborated with three producers to bring us an intriguing remix EP of crossovers with the Electronic music scene sound. Often a recipe for disaster, on this outing it seems the two styles pull in the same direction, with guitars and synths of the original music being lifted into the bass and percussive designs of Downtempo, chilled out, laid back Electronic music. I must remark, my memories of these Metal adjacent remixes are somewhat scared by the early naughties attempts of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park with full remix albums. Over the years many other collaborations have come by with varying success but are yet to make footing as a common feature.

In this scenario the vibes match and make for a fine indulgence with the breezy moods and easy nature of the intersection. These are easy, summery songs, hard not to like. Despite that, I find it difficult to give this project merit beyond chemistry as its energy rides almost exclusively of the melodies of Plini. Dayce brings a powerful thumping, steady Dance beat with 90s hi-hats and airy reverberations. The bold bass and rhythmic glitchy grooves add a contribution but not one of remark. The following tracks play it even safer, limited to drums as the main creative contribution. Production techniques with fade ins, outs and frequency cut fades make transitional designs sparkle but again, the musics charm is all with the original material. Ultimately, these songs end up feeling purposeless in the shadow their source and fail to bring anything beyond a shift in tone.

Rating: 3/10

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Hexenkraft "Deep Space Invocations: Volume II" (2021)


Being rather fond of this Doom adjacent darkly Synthwave ride into the depths of hell, I thought I'd give some time to this new two track EP, having now built up an itch for the ever delayed full length debut Permadeth set to arrive some time in the future. Unlike Volume I its cuts are half the length but twice as intense, taking a massive influence from the Doom Eternal soundtrack. Gone are the acoustic guitars, soft strings and general meandering to the unsettling quiet of space and nature. These songs ride percussive strikes and dense wave synths to the edge of oblivion as danger lurks nearby. Its breaks for respites always pull one back into the action like a force of gravity. Its synthetic edge bleeds the lines between tone and force as it ebbs and flows in rhythm and shimmers of melody as notation whirls in its dark frenzy. Its always intense, like a spree of action with moments to catch your breath, knowing you've got to do it all over again.

Its reminiscence of Doom Eternal is uncanny. Although devoid of big chunky Djent guitars, its follows many of the same tropes and tricks to create a hellish synth atmosphere for action and carnage in other worldly environments. Track two, Devastated, feels like a guilty partner for its blaring siren like buzz saw cutting in and out of focus like a heart attack. Going purely off of memory, this is either a lifted idea from the Doom soundtrack or a brilliantly crafted inspiration that would also fit sweetly into the games audio, which in turn complimented the gaming experience massively. These are two of Hexenkraft's best executed songs, yet closely ride the curtails of another beast. Most important though, they are fun, engrossing and immersive even if short lived in the eight minute runtime. Its craft is focused and doesn't need to go beyond its means, unlike its predecessor which felt as if it had room for something more.

Rating: 4/10

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Brockhampton "Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine" (2021)


Ive found this record difficult to put in words. A strong diversity of instrumental moods and heavy lyrical narratives that I struggled to connect with left me enjoying but not entirely resonating. Two years on from Ginger the group feel artistically evolved with maturity of word and a better execution of ideas. My lack of connection mostly stems from the endless stream of lyrics that Hip Hop offers, a form of personal exhaustion perhaps. Either way there is no doubt these songs hold up for there foundations. The group of producers who put hands on this one pulled together a colorful set of sounds to house within tight percussive grooves, a strong presence whenever put on spin.

The first five tracks feel like the strictly Hip Hop cuts. An emphasis on rhyme, reason and rugged beats brings Danny Brown onto the bass driven, wild Buzzcut. Its a massive salute that makes for a memorable number, followed by a strong appraisal for JPEGMafia and another collab with A$AP Ferg & Rocky. The attraction of big names says a lot for their ascendancy in the scene. Kicking of with deep bass kicks and some strong rap flows, Windows's inclusion of a poppy, over the top, auto-tune hook hints at where all this goes as the other aspect of this collective starts to emerge.

The rest of the record explores its Pop, R&B and Soul influences, often channeled into a modern context with high pitched and auto-tuned vocals weaving a lot of swooning singing into its songs while retaining darker themes in its lyrics. Its remarkably catching and In many a song, represents the groups unique sound at its best. When I Ball is a personal favorite for its old timely string section and warm, riveting baseline strutting beneath. The pivot to pitched up vocals so smooth. Its often been a point of contention but this time I think they pull these of the time trends so well.

It should be mentioned they swing back with a home run into the strictly Rap world with a ghetto whistle led banger Don't Shoot Up The Party. It comes with a strong message and bouncy energy that juxtaposes party vibes with a grim proposition. It held as a stiff moment in the albums flow as we move to a Gospell track before the vulnerable, emotion gushing The Light Pt. II that feels like a sweet send off as members of the group step to the mic to deliver some heart felt, emotional words.

A common experience of mine is holding off from writing as I don't feel I have a complete picture of the music. Sitting down to actually force out the words somehow brings it into perspective and with this analytical breakdown of what stood out to me, I feel as if I got closer to the record but again the short coming is always lyrics. These songs are loaded with substance that I could feel in passing but didn't stick around for long. Its a personal problem. The music of my youth as taken all of my lyrical capacity. I wish I could pick up and bond with it more these days, I feel like I am missing out on so much. Especially here on Roadrunner which is a fine record and a strong maturing of Brockhampton's sound.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Clipping "Visions Of Bodies Being Burned" (2020)


Its album number four by Clipping, an experimental Hip Hop trio doing remarkable things with their mashing up of Industrial and Noise with Horrorcore Rap and spoken rhymed monologues. So far I've developed a great appreciation for the artistry and craft but lacked an emotional connection. The same is true again with another fifty two minutes that seem to emphasize the same response from me. There is a difference this outing though, more of what I connect with. That's mostly a banging beat to elevate the obscurity of these minimalist noisescapes that house the rhymes.

Clipping's unsettling and grim take on urban life and crime has its apt tone again. Either expressed through rhyme or Industrial dissonance, Say The Name brings it to current events with a gripping power to address the death of George Floyd. The most notable track however is found in the lurching paranoia of Check The Lock. The John Carpenter-esque melodies and haunting bells are an illuminating compliment to the click, clack and rattling of sparse and distant industrious world building noises.

Alongside the lyrical talent of Daveed Diggs, who's sharp as a blade with his despairing narratives, a host of features fall short of adding something memorable to the mix. I was delighted to see the inclusion of Ho99o9 but even their shout raps felt at odds with the abrasive instrumental below the pair. Beyond these points of remark, much of what I've written about Clipping before remains true, its mostly a jarring experience of conflicting instrumentation that paints physical discomfort.

 Its best exemplified by slabs of white noise between tracks and the maddening Eaten Alive, its loose percussive performance seems perfectly dialed up to maximum confusion as its dislocated pace grows with the clattering of kitchen utensils. When Diggs drops out we are treated to a couple minutes of completely unhinged sound. Its a novelty, one this band are capable of channeling into convention with thumping base and a sensible kick snare groove but it too is sparing on this outing, with much of the record being chalked into that particular confrontational space again.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 9 May 2021

The Kovenant "In Times Before The Light" (2002)

Its interesting how a legal battle incurred not only a name change but also a shift in sound and identity for this Norwegian duo. Nexus Polaris would suggest this transformation was possible but it was Animatronic that solidified it, the first album released under The Kovenant name. A few years on from that record the pair decided to re-record their debut full length In Time Before The Light. Under their new moniker, the approach was to re-write the songs in their new Industrial infused aesthetic and the results are mixed.

Staying faithful to the original song structures, it is mainly the instrumentation that gets an update to match the fantastical dystopian sound. Without the measured pace of Industrial Metal guitars churning out choppy palm muted chords the original riffs rub up against its now lavish synth sounds. So to do the blast beats, when the atypical plunges into Black Metal darkness come, its a point the music is at its weakest.

Much of the original lone and linear synth lines feel stripped out, replaced with Industrial noises and re-worked textural tones for the new electronic enhanced aesthetic. Over top of them reigns a lavish dance of illustrious pianos, blazing through rapturous melodies, outpacing the music with its hasty notation. Along for the ride come the retro spooky and carnival keys too, they often sound a little suspect in presence.

 The better songs beforehand tend to hold up here but overall, its hard to enjoy this one being able to hear how these songs were converted. Sticking so rigidly to the original track design creates an odd contrast, where the musicality excels individually against outdated songs structures. In other words this wondrous sound the duo fell into moved with their songwriting too. Ultimately it leaves a stale taste but has me curious what I would think had I gotten to know these re-recordings first?

Rating: 5/10

Friday, 7 May 2021

Covenant "In Times Before The Light" (1997)


Following up on From The Storm Of Shadows, we arrive three years later with a debut record cast from the mold of an emerging Symphonic Black Metal scene. Unlike the stylistic evolution an of Enthrone Darkness Triumph, the duo stuck with a primordial Norwegian sound paired against its bold and cheesy Casio synth tones. Effective in execution but cornering the music to its niche, one which I happen to enjoy greatly.

Firstly, all three demo songs make it across to the album. The production is a clear step up too, everything audible but also a charming mess of gritty distant guitar tones and bold, punchy drums and keys entering a somewhat forced relation that carves its atmosphere with varying effect. Over it all shriek cries and howling raspy screams offer less immersion and more concept born of genre conventions.

Ultimately its aesthetic works and achieves an entertaining darkness fostered by antiquated medieval and fantasy themes articulated through its simple, often singular synth lines. A few tremolo guitar riffs perk the ears beyond the usual rigmarole of darkly power chord arrangements and plunges into blast beats that comes with the territory. Its with a varied outcome that the bands songwriting fumbles for a few tracks.

The stiff nature of its keys, punching through the mix with a lot of power, often accentuates a different character, one to become evolve greatly on the galactic leap forward that is Nexus Polaris. It gives many of the songs passageways that dispel magic purely on tone and nature of the melody. At the same time it also houses some fantastic chemistry, although a little limited give the lack of layering tones or melodies.

Monarch Of The Mighty Darkness a keen example, its opening doomly gloom a memorable one. Late in the song its medieval leaning arrangements forge an uneasy awkwardness alongside the shrill throaty howls of Nagash. The Dark Conquest has a similar problem, slow and menacing in its brooding opening yet meanders from the path has the keys differ with vibrant flute tones. All in all its a flawed record that has enough charm to carry it along. Will be fascinating to explore it again through the lens of its re-recording.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Alan Parsons Project "I Robot" (1977)


British rock duo The Alan Parsons Project have admittedly been on my radar since before I started this music blog. Of the three records I own, any song cropping up on shuffle would grab my attention. How its taken me this long is criminal but for the past month or so Ive gotten deep into I Robot, their sophomore effort. Hailed as Progressive Rock, what is remarkable about the music is how much it reaches into the adjacent sounds of the 70s. With a luscious string section, these compositions often get a graceful lift into the cinematic realm. Its rumbustious baselines hit Funk and Disco grooves with class. The short experimental interlude Nucleus enters the Ambient Soundscape realms akin to Dreamtime Return released eleven years later.

What they touch, turns to gold, but not without echos of others who walked before them. The breezy lullaby of Day After Day reminiscent of Genesis in a vulnerable song and I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You is practically a Stevie Wonder track hands down. As said, its golden. The duo forge timely songs ripe with vivid instrumentation and holding song structures to make it work wonderfully. The variety is plentiful, dipping into emotional ballads, flushes of early Electronica synths, plenty of Progressive Rock cliches and the audacity to experiment boldly. The song Total Eclipse uses a choir of haunted soul voices to cascade with unease through nail biting tensions as it plunges into fiery depths.

Perhaps suggested by its variety, the structure is loose, moving through drastic shifts in tone that seem effortless with the aid of seamless transitions, pivoting the instruments between songs with organic handover passageways. It ends with Boules, a bonus track of sorts rocking a "phat" baseline with a tight reflexive drum loop and accompaniment of strange noise oddities. It always struck me as a Hip Hop beat in ways, further suggesting the duo had a finger on the pulse with the splash of current sounds the record embodies, although Hip Hop might be a bit of a stretch with the New York scene at its absolute infancy in this point in time.

One thing that stains the stunning music is its theme. I Robot attempts to engage with the concept of artificial intelligence from a heavily dated perspective. Compared to the current discussions around AI and its partial implementation through algorithms and machine learning, everything pertaining to the concept just seems out of step, however the vocal efforts of the band it comes through are wonderful. Barely a crease to be found beyond its timely blemish. Lastly, I'll end on a musing note. These two never found commercial success in their home town, shipping most their records in Germany, USA and Canada. Its something I find rather curious given how British acts tend to be well known here but the Alan Parsons Project has sadly faded from focus since their retirement over two decades ago.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Earth "Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version" (1993)


A recent revival of Hibernaculum and The Bees Made Honey had me curious about their pre-reformation works that had been heaped with praise. As a curious teenage enthusiast, this record had left me dumbfounded to what the fuss was about. Now, with open mind and ears I find myself with a similar sentiment, although context may play a roll given what this anomaly may have meant to listeners back in the nineties.

With three gargantuan songs totally seventy three minutes, Earth 2 strikes me as more of a singular experiment in tone than anything structured, planned or even designed. This is Drone Metal resembling very little of Metal and much of the drone one might associate with engine noises and electronic buzzing. The entire musical piece is a wash with the dense, drowning, fuzzy flood of guitar distortion cycled with amp feedback to muzzle anything that happens to wander across its bleak path.

Admittedly I can comment there is a strange charm and allure to the droning noise but is it a work of genius? I suspect not. As background or foreground music it is mostly grating and is best enjoyed when entirely distracted from its presence. Perhaps its just not my cup of tea. I understand the appeal but the particular aesthetic at play here is mostly a discomfort that feels pointless to endure its unsettling presence.

With Seven Angels, a lone guitar deploys burly riffs reminiscent of Black Sabbath on loop. Slowly chugging palm mutes and rising to chord slabs with slices of short melody, it stands aside for offering something to focus on yet feels unremarkable to me. The second track shifts aesthetics slightly, the guitar work goes in a moody direction but ultimately its emotions are smothered by the droning, dirty sludge.

 Its not until Like Gold And Faceted that we hear drums, slow, temporal and disappearing for tempo shattering duration's, they barely crash through the wall of brown sound. At the hour mark, a scream can be heard and before it, a little lead guitar but as mentioned, these events do little to conjure purpose or intent. I must say, it does sound like cryptic rumblings are woven beneath the drone at times where its consistency breaks and cracks of something else is heard, undecipherable.

The whole thing seems like an unplanned session hinged around the concept of smothering the listener in blistering feedback for an unreasonable amount of time. Its spontaneous blurts of additional sound seems disconnect and purposeless. If there is magic to be found here, it has certainly alluded me, although I suspect the aid of hallucinogenics might yield different results for those who use them.

Rating: 2/10

Monday, 3 May 2021

Brelstaff "In Human Terms" (2021)


Brelstaff, formerly known as Daryl Donald, throws a fresh "beat tape" our way. At twenty tracks, it runs deeper than usual with similar duration tracks ranging from one too three minutes. Anticipating demo quality, or unfinished ideas, I was pleasantly surprised to find an excellent array of beats loosely framed by the snippets of past time American gangsters talking while running their criminal errands. Its a niche charm for timely compositions that rides the dynamics of Jazz Hop and dreamy instruments sampled against the loose yet snappy boom bap nineties drum grooves.

Through its many temperaments, shades of experimentation lean mostly towards a Noir Jazz flavor with relaxed, indulgent tones that get a little summery here and somewhat darkly there. Often with a slight psychedelic, dream like tone, the music memorizes with its laid back approach rubbing of the punching groove of snare and base kick. Its all atypical yet has this character I can't quite put the finger on.

My thoughts are rather similar on each outing with this artist who has figured out there form. These beats need a voice to elevate them too the next level. A progressive or fluid motif is missing to have them work solely as instrumentals. Although very enjoyable they feel as if the right rapper could work wonders over them. Not Enough Crime, a favorite track of mine, the perfect framework for some verses and a hook to further the already animated instrumental. Overall, its a great little gem to enjoy.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Anna Von Hausswolff "Ceremony" (2013)


Stepping backwards in time, we arrive upon Swedish songwriter and Organist, Anna Von Hausswolff's sophomore record. As The Miraculous hinted, the engulfing esoteric gloom and might of her burdensome terror had yet to emerge. Ceremony feels rather undefined in its direction, closer to musical traditions stemming back to the 70s with songwriting, moods and templates that are yet to diverge from common and folksy sounds. Darkness is the flavor she brings but in this outing its just a shadow of the witchery yet to be discovered, more of a still and sombre grayness gently cast.

Interchanging her operatic voice with pipe organs and an array of string instruments, these calmed song temperaments gracefully cruise by. The second song Deathbed is the one track indicating her future direction. Its bludgeoning Doom Metal drone and grating guitar chords spell horror between her voice and colorful organs giving pause for light. The record then meanders into a string of bare and minimal musings, before traditional elements emerge towards the end, tethered to her subtle gloom.

I could get deeper into the particulars, her voice and instrumentation echoing strong feelings from many a musical style and artist heard before but that alone was the key take away. Rather than striding into new territory with something to shock and awe, at this stage Anna was still finding her feet, writing wonderful songs that have been enjoyable and even moving on its better tracks like Ocean. Ultimately though, its all a bit infantile in the shadow that her future self will cast.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Devin Townsend "Ghost" (2011)

Is it possible to completely forget a record? Of course, butt one you have great adoration for... Well that was me a while back as the lengthy, wandering Texada song comes on shuffle and an eerie feeling washes over. Prompted to give Ghost a proper spin again, it occurred to me its been a criminal amount of time since it last cross my mind. How many years had it been? I felt as if I was looking in a mirror and slowly recognizing my own reflection. The experience was a revelation of locked away memories, the key turn clicking as each track brings a flood of familiarity and feelings. This album was once my therapy, a force of calm to visit in times of need and yet somehow it had drifted away from me, despite all of its beauty and charm.

To me, Ghost feels like a further exploration of the magic Ki offered two years back. Stripping out the metallic grooves and sailing into the lofty indulgence of his deeply reverberated guitar tones, the inclusion of soft airy synths, dreamy electronic ambiences and the dynamic woodwinds of Kat Epple, illuminates a wholesome spirit most these songs embody. The opening is strong, Devin unloads his passionate pleas, gushing emotion forth in the wake of serine atmospheres and rapturous melodies plucked from his bright acoustic guitar. Its fine song writing, wandering in and out of soothing ambiences with himself and Katrina Natale swelling in the rises of voice and melody that form structures within the flowing river of sound.

The web of instrumentation is stunning, dense yet inviting, one can get lost of the layers of soft sound that breeze by. Dave Young's key work with the synths add an endless sparkle of cosmic curiosity with the psychedelic electronic tones he interweaves. The percussion from Mike St-Jean is timely and measured, complimenting the wondrous direction the music steers in. Retreating in its lulls and subtly rising in the surges of song writing, its a performance that understands exactly what the record needs, a textural performance of craft and softness.

Sadly, I feel as if the record falters in its length. At seventy minutes its initial pattern meandering between swooning atmospheres and bursts of life gets weight down at the mid point. Its with monsoon that the tone pivots to the exploratory. With a brief pull back to the spirited rise of traditional song on Texada, and again with a bit of a miss on Seams, the latter half falls victim to its calm as much of the genius in the first half leaves its lengthy final cuts with less to offer, hiding in the shadow of greatness.

Healing is the word I'm left with to describe this record mood. Its a therapeutic experience and a curious one to rediscover again. Its as if it never left but now with the tentative ears of an enthused listener, keen to analyze my own experience, I realize that genius is rare and can be exhausted. I have immense adoration for Devin and his unique sense of inspired identity that comes with his music but he is human after all. It feels like this record was left to fizzle out after hitting the mark aptly with its string of opening songs. Either way I am glad to of found this treasure again.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Emerald Web "Dragon Wings And Wizard Tales" (1979)


In recent years my Dungeon Synth curiosity has led me down interesting avenues. Fantasy music, Folksy Ambient works and the Psychedelic inspired early Electronic sound of the 70s. They all seem to have an intersection with this curious record that has outdated much of what Ive discovered, unraveling more of the unending map of musical influences. Id never heard of the Husband and Wife duo Emerald Web before, until hearing them appraised by Devin Townsend on a recent podcast. Described as New Age music, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The promise of flute led songs had old prejudices suspecting I wouldn't enjoy this but for many of my recent discoveries, the likes of a Jim Kirkwood, this dimension has been opened up for me to explore!

What I have discovered here shares much of the mystique for natural beauty and nature I have come to adore in music. It emanates from an inner warmth and inspiration, carried on a care free breeze one can relax deeply to as its Flute is played with a force of personality by Kat Epple, who lends her soft voice too. The woodwind instrument is graceful and timely, drifting in like a leaf caught in the breeze, she swirls and swings through lively iterations between swooning on the soft cloudy texture of its notes, gracefully cruising by with a captivating gleam that I just adore!

Dragon Wings And Wizard Tales moves through many compositions, focusing on melodies from gentle acoustic guitars to creating scenic visions with innovative synths and a little soundscape work between with the blowing of dusty winds. It meanders beautifully, straying subtly into moments of wondrous experimentation that feels ripe of the heels of Progressive Rock. One of its best songs, Chasing The Shadowbeast, a nine minute epic, captures much of what the record offers through its expansive tale that swells with energy and Post-Punk baselines in the end. It gets there through a warm and steady build up resonating on some strong King Crimson vibes.

Leading up to that climactic moment, each of its songs feel like little flowers of inspiration, blossoming in their exposure. Flight Of The Raven captures a little esoteric melody and animated electronics in its conclusion to give a sense of seismic event. Twilight gets scenic with the chirping of birds with its dusky, spooky synths whirling like winds. It all comes together on Firenight as the driving force of its Psychedelic electronic bass line carries the aforementioned ideas on a journey to a full formed entity. The darker side of there sound reminding me of Erang in moments.

Lifeforce Celebration is another standout track as its choppy percussion fading in and out of focus echos of ideas all to common now in music but here a true force of originality. Its so intriguing to put these ideas in the context of the year they were released. Best of all, the music is endearing and has been a constant delight. At only thirty six minutes, its been on repeat a lot these last few weeks!

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Burzum "Thulêan Mysteries" (2020)

 A year late to the party, this supposed final album from a musician of genius, wrapped in controversy, encompasses ninety minutes of estranged, spiritual and Nordic inspired ambient music. Labelled as a compilation, I initially passed it up. In fact its a compiled collection of original works from the six years since The Ways Of Yore. In the post-prison era of his career, Varg's ambient leaning creations had not sparkled with the magic of a Tomhet or Hliðskjálf. I wasn't expecting much but found myself pleasantly surprised to hear the peculiar sound that captivated much of my youth emerging again. Alongside a couple of reworked melodies from classic songs, much of this loosely arranged music dives into that special, lonely and timeless place.

With some solemnly spoken word and slightly sung sections, Varg brings a little Norse culture to a handful of songs that break up the flow with a tone rooted in heritage and mythology more so than the mystic. All his songs share the minimalist approach, a handful of simple melodies, steady in pace and calming in their presence. Repetitive and droning, many of these songs need little complexity to hold ones attention. Textural experiments with raveling distortions and whirling psychedelic synths droning on a handful of the longer tracks show he still has the knack for that deeply mysterious and nature inspired sound of a lonely darkness. Both chilling and soothing in its unforgiving starkness and archaic presence.

A Forgotten Realm stands out as a unifying track to bring all thees concepts together. Lumped in the midpoint its arrival is like all the others, without intention. The albums flow is unstructured yet enhanced through repetition as familiarity sets in. The lack of direction tends to aid the already lonesome and wandering mood these songs conjure. With many short one to two minute cuts in the first half there is an impression of ideas left unfinished. In the second stint where longer pieces reside, a notable shift to the denser tone fleshed with experimental reverbs and droning instruments takes place. In this stretch the music enters an entrancing meditative magic I simply adore.

I barely knew what to expect going into this record. His previous ambient works had been a disappointment. Given the nature of its release it strikes me as music inspired and composed without future thoughts to release it, despite that eventually happening. Given its lack of structure or focus the sound feels more lending to a mood than experience. It will be one to put on from time to time in search of that curiously esoteric yet relaxing sound linked to a Norse Mythology that only this guy can capture.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 23 April 2021

Pop Will Eat Itself "This Is The Day..." (1989)


This album may just go down as one of the most intriguing, genre crossover and retroactively curious records to discover at a time where the historical musical tapestry rarely surprises. This Is The Day... is a defining sophomore album by British act Pop Will Eat Itself, a band fueled by a passionate energy for music alternative to the mainstream. Despite being floored by its hallmarks, the now dated era sound of its fainter stints has me less indulged by its waves of nostalgia emanating from a moment in time prior to my favorite 90s sounds. Essentially, this would of been my world had I discovered it earlier in my youth. Hearing it now, its still a marvel to behold and enjoy.

Kicking off with PWEI Is A Four Letter Word, a defining influence is made known with its bold snippets of Chuck D & Flavor Flav of Public Enemy. The sampling culture of then still emerging Hip Hop sound runs rampant as defiant statements are drawn around the concept of "stealing" music in this sampling form. These guys stand on the cutting edge of the times, bringing Rap and Rock together with Heavy Metal and Punk Rock guitars among its weaving web of Electronic, Pop and even Disco in brief bursts. It has the spirit of Anthrax's inclusion on the crossover classic Bring The Noise. Its a wild punchy sound, bold and hard hitting as its elements stack together crudely through the riotous noise blaring from DJ Winston's eclectic sample choices.

Individually the songs tend to feel structured in a Pop format with chirpy hooks and a ton of cultural inclusion from its embracing sampling and referencing lyrics. The experience is like a youthful time machine, references to Terminator, Robo Cop and even Mc Donalds ground itself in the era. Notably, this is where its weak points gleam. Its silly refrain "Gimme Me Big Mack, Gimme Fries To Go" rapped alongside the classic Funky Town melody is both gaudy, geeky yet admittedly fun. Its grown on me, the awkward leaning arrangements do have musical charm at its inspirational core. My other "gripe" were the crass English accents, a little stiff and engineered when rapping but giving it some Merit, its the late eighties style, simple but effective.

Wrapped around its bold affront, the musicianship from Mole, Mansell, Crabb & March is remarkable, a keen negotiation fostering the spaces between its sampling indulgences with timely riffs, melodies and grooves to lay a firm foundation for the madness. Its an organic unraveling textile sound, morphing into songs as samples and programs drums invade the percussion, bass, guitars and beyond. The rhythm section was a personal pleasure, reflecting the tones of Alternative Metal, Industrial and Post-Punk to remind me fondly of the coming shift in sound the 90s would bring.

As said in the opening, its a marvel, full of mentions to perk your ears, Can U Dig It? is a lovable spew of references built around the classic line from The Warriors movie, sampled over and over. I set out to write a more critical review as its gaudy moments and rough edges had been a focus in casual listening, but as it happens on occasion, diving in deep and getting the thoughts out really made me appreciate this one more. Its quite iconic to me how it slips in between a lot of great music I adore with a "here first" affirmation. It will take time to digest deeply. One thing is sure, I am not done with it yet! Ill be spinning This Is The Day... for years to come, I can feel it in my bones!

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Covenant "From The Storm Of Shadows" (1994)


With SETI, Animatronic & Nexus Polaris behind us, we venture now into the less impressive origin of a remarkable band. In the past I barely bothered with demo tapes, my recent foray with My Angel gave me a nudge to give this one a try. I'm glad I did, although far from impressed with a now cliched sound I know inside out, it was a pleasure to digest these three darkly, menacing tracks of scene cast Black Metal.

 Sadly the symphonic element starts off mostly absent, possibly too enveloped by the smothering bass to stand apart with distinction. Its not until two thirds through the opening track that we hear some lone horns roaring in triumph from behind the grisly guitars. Its presence grows and by the third title track we get some medieval, partly jovial synth lines chiming in to the shadowy aggression with bold melody.

As far as the crass audio quality goes, this is a studio demo, harsh in the upper mid range but doing a great job of making its instruments heard. The key elements of the music get through, those brooding, mid tempo riffs with darkly accents, atypical of the times. It plunders away through blast beats and howling, unattractive scowls that rasp over top from Nagash who handles everything but the guitars here.

Its rather hard for these three songs to make much of a lasting impression given my already extensive exploration of Symphonic Black Metal. I'm fairly sure these songs would of carved some adoration if I'd turned to them in my youth. As it goes I skipped over them but its clear that Nagash of early Dimmu Borgir notoriety was a competent musician adding his own take on the emerging sound with vision and spirit!

Rating: 4/10