Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Janis Joplin "Pearl" (1971)

It was quite a few years ago that I first heard of Janis and her legendary performance at Woodstock 69. I got my hands on Pearl with a whole bunch of other records from a top 500 list and have had it on my phone since, waiting for shuffle to catch me off guard and precisely that happened the other day with Half Moon, a feel good, upbeat, jiving song on the first side of the record. Reading up on Pearl I am saddened to learn it was released posthumously a few months after her death in 1970 where she suffered a heroin overdose. Interestingly the album was recorded in the failed four channel quadraphonic format which would eventually become surround sound. It also held the top album slot for nine weeks and sold over four million copies.

Whats impressive about Pearl is its energy and dynamism, from both Janis's charisma and the wonderfully involved, vibrant instrumentation behind her. The record rocks and sways between heartfelt emotions and feel good, rocking vibes. A powerful fusion of Funk, Soul, R&B and Blues Rock jives on with a colorful intensity as the accompanying Fult Tilt Boogie Band illuminate these songs with fleshed out and inspired music making a rich setting for Janis however they too take the lime light with bursts of powerful organs and guitar licks between the ever present liveliness of the deceased Richard Bell's pianos. Its dense in its involvement, yet audibly crisp and inviting, each instrument having its space in the mix to shine as they jive in tandem.

All of the band give a riveting performance, you can simply just zone in on one instrument and be moved but the biggest mover is Janis out in front of them who has such a fascinating and emotional voice. With such sincere passion and expression in her singing, the half hit notes and croaky, scratchy strain she frequently visits become engulfed in the moment, sounding natural, charming and despite technically being "flawed" its transformed by her charisma. She even goes has far to push her voice in to a surging shriek on occasion, which is too just an unleashing of urgent expression. Its truly riveting and endearing, her young death truly a tragedy.

Its practically a flawless record, thirty four minutes of emotional engagement with exception to one track which I can't help but feel modern corporatism has spoiled as I'm sure Ive heard it in a commercial of the same name, Mercedes Benz. Its a short, lower fidelity accapella where Janis sounds a little rusty on her own, singing sarcastic prayers for consumerist products. Its really quite a nice piece but feels tainted by its snug fit with advertising culture where everything becomes a commodity, even the song, which only makes sense retrospectively.

My time with this record has taught me what I'm learning over and over again, that a musicians personal expression can transcend any preconceived musical preference if given a chance. The sixties is a fascinating chapter in the history of humanity and certainly the beginning of the cultural freedom we experience today. I'd never been keen on the music but I'm glad that's changing. Janis's voice feels free of its time but the instrumentals are firmly rooted in the era and Its great to hear familiar 60s aesthetics expressing something I can relate with, however writing that makes me realized its perhaps the ever changing self that is now coming around to this wonderful era of music and cultural significance.

Rating: Cry Baby, My Baby, Half Moon, Get It While You Can
Rating: 9.5/10

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Post Malone "Beerbongs & Bentleys" (2018)

Debuting at number one and going platinum within a week it would seem the success is only growing for the young artist who is yet to win favor with a majority of critics. Beerbongs & Bentleys is Post Malone's Sophomore record clocking in at a bloated sixty four minutes that shows little signs of any measurable evolution from his sound on Stoney. Across these eighteen tracks we have a similar of sequence of Trap influenced Hip Hop beats mixed up in the wish wash of indulgent reverberations and instruments set to maximize the laid back vibes and chilled out tone of Post's music.

The record falls short in its lyrical substance, most tracks are dominated by superficial topics. The gloating and boasting of lifestyle and wealth props up a thin backbone of topics revolving around the glorification of intoxication, petty drama and partying that are so atypical of the youth and who could blame them for it? As an older soul there is little I can relate to other than a reactionary sigh at seeing reflections of a former, younger self. Post does at times find some deep lines in brief glimpses but its mostly buried in the slew of style and catchy slang over substance in lyrics that many of his guest features indulge in too.

Its all so trendy and such are the instrumentals too. The charisma of Post's singing voice, with auto tune or without is a constant pleasure and transformers the mood of these beats into chilled out, laid back places, calming and serine through the chaos of the stuttering hi-hat led beats. The quality varies track to track, Same Bitches with YG sticking out like a sore thumb, its beat clearly by a different producer working on those west coast vibes. A couple of songs like Rockstar with 21 Savage hit the right mark however Post's songwriting sounds rather muted across the record as the trendy beats and self-indulgent lyrics dominate the records tone and posture.

In one moment we get a pure beam of light, the main reason I have my ear on this artist. Stay is a glossy, gleaming song filled with sun soaked acoustic guitar playing, coming on like a daydream as Post's voice soars over blissfully with some beautiful singing and vocal inflections. No Trap beats, no trendy slang and this is where the substance is in this musician. I hope in the future he follows this path more as I believe its where he flourishes I would happily listen to a record of tracks like this for hours on end! Unfortunately Beerbongs & Bentleys is yet to head in that direction.

Favorite Tracks: Rockstar, Stay
Rating: 5/10

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Lord Lovidicus "Saeculorum" (2018)

Upon seeing its sacred, biblical art album cover I was overcome with excitement, Lord Lovidicus has been one of the most interesting artists to follow over the years. Progressing from decrepit visions of mysterious, nostalgic Dungeon Synth, evolving the sound to lush and serine compositions of runic magic, his music has been painting vivid and uplifting visions of ancient cultures. That path is probably why I found myself instantaneously understanding what this record was about, its cover a perfect fit for the music behind the facade and an inspired step forward for the artist.

More than ever does Lord inch closer to the realms of whats unfortunately generalized into "video game music". To more accurately describe the style, its akin to scenic soundtracks of dragon-born kings and fairy-tale lands, the likes of Skyrim and the other Elder Scrolls games. I think Lord's vision here is more likely to be routed in the Roman era with the Latin title signifying the length of mortal life and its two songs, split into smaller tracks, Latin for gold and silver. Whatever its inspiration the music is majestic, yet cultured and very much romanticizes with a forgotten civilization.

With soft and simple stringed instruments, the cries of trumpets, horns and the occasional pounding of war drums, the opening track Aurum has an uplifting gleam of might about it as we travel on a timely adventure across lands. It climaxes with the wonderful Saturunus Dethroned, making its mark with an intriguing pallet of arcane choral synths that meld human voices with the gods, as if calling down from the heavens above. Argentum paints a similar cultural vision of splendid valor from the upper echelon of society, its glory and wealth soaring its way to the clouds above. That is just my interpretation, I picture scholars and politicians lavished in white robes, gazing on grapes, lounging in serine gardens as they indulge in conversation of primitive philosophy as adventures explore beautiful scenic lands off in the distance.

The aesthetic value of the music is carefully poised. It sounds fit for the rich and lavish production a studio budget could afford yet resides on basic midi tones dressed in soft reverb. Its just enough to capture the majesty the compositions behold. The music shines brightly through it with this pallet of instruments however it in some moments becomes crowded in layered crescendos and some lighter compositions like Rivers Of Nectar sound a little exposed when only two instruments are in play at once. Its nothing to complain about, the whole record is spell bounding with impressive song progressions and structures that show Lord is continuing to both evolve the sound and grow as a musician.

Favorite Tracks: Saturunus Dethroned, The Monad, The Divine Spark
Rating: 8/10

Friday, 11 May 2018

PRhyme "PRhyme 2" (2018)

I always suspected there would be a sequel to PRhyme, a collaborative effort between DJ Premier and Royce Da 5"9. Casting my mind back, it was only a few months into this blog that I covered there first album together over four years ago! Time flies and the absence has yielded a follow up record twice the length yet lacking much to talk about. The original never made a big impact but showed promise however four years later I can barely remember a hook, beat or rhyme from it.

The same will be true of this record too, its unfortunately a tiresome record that starts of with a bang. Black History has a quirky instrumental, a cut without a kick or snare! Its like a clock ticking down with a string section dancing around it and then the song erupts into a bright uplifting gleam as the drums drop in. With that and the intro song the duo set a stage, stating their return and then Royce painting a picture of his birth and leading on to brief us on some Hip Hop history, giving shouts out to Guru of Gang Starr and some others too.

Following it up with a self affirming braggadocio track the album swiftly falls into a routine of reasonable beats and reasonable rhymes thats all so reasonable it forgets to be inspired or challenging. A string of obvious and atypical rhymes boasting status and lifestyle drown out spurts of impressive rhyming and topical substance. Its in there somewhere but on a lengthy album clocking in at over an hour the record tends to drone on. Hearing old rappers moan about modern trends and how it used to be done becomes tiring even if your a fan of that era. Its an all to common trend from the old heads it seems. Not a bad record, just something I couldn't really get into.

Favorite Track: Black History
Rating: 3/10

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Dimmu Borgir "Eonian" (2018)

Its been well over a decade since the Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal outfit Dimmu Borgir were in their prime, I would consider 2004's Death Cult Armageddon to be the groups last truly great record. Since then the bands activity has slowing, their records In Sorte Diaboli and Abrahadabra haven't lived up to the former glory. With a worrying eight year gap between albums I welcome anything from my favorite band but reserve any excitement as it would be foolish to expect them to rekindle the old flames. This newest adventure embarks us on a ritualistic journey through ancient astral lore as its tone and track listing would suggest.

This new chapter been a fair listen, an easy, enjoyable record that does little wrong but lacks the intensity and atmosphere to elevate its core ideas to epic proportion. Further exaggerating what they have done before, Eonian is finely tuned with its crisp and gleaming production, polished to a fault. It takes a real hammering of blast beats and guitar trashing to create anything remotely overwhelming. Instead the record often indulges in this sleek sound with eruptions of lush atmospheres that lean on its light, audible guitar licks, comforting symphonics and expansive drums that conjures a sense of scale with its lumbering pace packed with arranged fills.

Either its crutch or a crux the record continually embellishes many of its climatic and powerful passageways with these strong choirs, often effeminate voices soaring with a touch of devilish mischief and between them plenty of choral synths line much of the musics design. Often its fantastic, on a few instances a little soar but most of all its an obvious progression from a trend on Abrahadabra that leaves the guitars playing second fiddle to everything else. Its not something to take issue with, just an observation that they are toned down by these musicians who used to bring so much venom and exhilarating annihilation through their power chord shredding riffs.

Behind the aesthetics and nuances of composition we have some fantastic song writing that tends to stray towards cosmically majestic and uplifting moments as opposed to the hellish plunges into darkness they would so commonly do in the past. Essentially these are seasoned musicians evolving their sound in the opposite direction yet holding onto their "extreme" identity. It results in mixed feelings, an appreciation of the now more expansive music, yet an attachment to how these songs might of once played out decades ago in a more to the point manor. With lingering elements of their old identity holding on it sounds like they aren't quite through a transitional period, however Eonian clearly reaches the other side with quite a few strides on this decent record.

Favorite Tracks: I Am Sovereign, Archaic Correspondence, Rite Of Passage
Rating: 7/10

Monday, 7 May 2018

Rich Brian "Amen" (2018)

Amen is the debut record of teenager rapper Rich Brian from Indonesia, a former Viner who's been active as a creator from a young age. Gathering his influences from this newest generation of Hip Hop, he represents much about these times, the accessibility of music and information bringing the culture across seas through the connectivity of the internet, a place where a young Brian found his creative platform. His break out single hit a couple years back but the hype of this record is where I have first heard of him.

Going into this record relatively blind his charm and persona stuck out instantly, the deep baritone voice, his calm, relaxed pace and easy going delivery is persuasive. It sets him a step aside from other rappers, his almost spoken word style has to be far easier for skeptics to digest. Unfortunately I don't think there is a ton of lyrical substance here. A lot of the time he's caught up in the moment, divulging shallow topics of social status and occasionally reflecting on his self perception. There is however a endearing youthful air and innocence about his thoughts and tales. It comes in a moderate dose and matches his tone, most the positive energy comes from his simple and fun rhymes schemes, keen and witty links like "I need space like astronaut". When his flow matches the beat it becomes very enjoyable and hypnotic even if the lyrics aren't making the mark, however the opening track does a fantastic job of introducing himself and setting the stage for the rest to come.

I especially liked the production of this record, its Trap influences feels measured and inspired as opposed to trendy. The melodies and tone can vary from the uplifting, sun soaked vibes of Flight to the club banger Tresspass that came before it. Each track brings together a tight beat with a smart set of programmed instruments that gel together seamlessly. Tuneful synths and simple melodies on layers of subtle instruments remind me of Dr. Dre's philosophy on 2001 in a roundabout way.

I think Brian has a bright future ahead of himself. As I didn't mention it is Rich himself who handles almost all the production according the records footnotes. Thats largely impressive for this emerging talent who's got so much of his life ahead of him. Amen is a decent debut, flawed but fun and enjoyable. Lyrically I think more life experience would bring some last and depth to his words but on the other hand his instrumental game is very strong and the album flows so smooth from track to track, its a really easy to enjoy record.

Favorite Tracks: Amen, Occupied, Introvert, Tresspass, Flight, See Me, Enemies
Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Logic "Everybody" (2017)

It seems Ive been set on a path to work backwards through each of American rapper Logic's yearly releases, this being his third album and his first to debut in the stop spot on billboard charts. Its as convincing as the Bobby Tarantino II mixtape, a bright, energetic album full of charisma and energy emanating from the talented MC who handles a fair amount of production with his own beats on this equally enjoyable record. It doesn't have a lot to separate it from the mixtape format other than being a little more consistent with its theme and topic.

Logic, his long time collaborator 6ix and a handful of others forge a fine selection of flowing modern beats with a healthy mix of sampling, programming and trap influenced beats, as well as a couple of pop rap tracks for the radio. They set a fine stage for the raps which totally dominate the tone with a ton of food for thought. Through story telling, point making and generally speaking his mind. Logic tackles these personal problems and criticisms head on in a very upfront, straightforward and unapologetic way. These topics are heavily focused around racism and how we as people treat one another in this society.

It can be problematic how self involved in a progressive politcal world view he is. At times the lyrics can be naive and lack nuance and certainly walk down a very entrenched path but for me the message is clear, between many of his narratives he reinforces the message of love and compassion for one another. This endearing warmth goes a long way and although his lyrical content isn't as issue for me I could see it being divisive for others who may have a different world view.

Take It Back is a mighty track, Logic engaging us with his technical delivery over a very repetitive beat that becomes hypnotic as he reminds us to take it way way back. Its a powerful song, Logic having to defend the perception of his racial identity in the face of criticism. He walks us through his life's struggles and how it relates to a much larger picture. Other features make a large mark on the record too, the inclusion of Neil Degrasse Tyson in interludes adds this fantastic layer of thought to the nature of meaning and existence. He also brings legends Killer Mike and Chuck D to the album.

Overall its a fantastic yet flawed album mixing a handful of ideas in the pot that doesnt quite formulate into a coherent vision yet forges some fantastic musical moments and plenty of food for thought. The most endearing aspect is the character of Logic himself, through all you can hear an honest and kind hearted person, it goes a long way to make the album feel less weighed down by its subject matter and lifted by the beats and inspiration.

Favorite Tracks: Hallelujah, Everybody, Take It Back, America
Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Deftones "Koi No Yokan" (2012)

Emerging as a forerunner in the formation of the short lived Nu Metal wave, Sacramento based Deftones swiftly made artistic strides to separate themselves from the scene and grow as artists. With the years passing by as they do, the band have ended up with a stellar catalog of records worthy of much discussion and praise. I always found It difficult to pick favorite songs and records with the Deftones specifically because their music is so inviting and persuasive. After six years with this record and another recent binge on it, I am once again in awe of Koi No Yokan for its sonic and textural beauty, a moment where the bands music transcends itself with a timeless presentation of deeply engrossing music with gorgeous aesthetics.

On its surface one might link the bands former two record together. The bombastic intensity of Stephen Carpenter's eight string guitars from Diamond Eyes and the blissful, color soaked experience of the melodic Saturday Night Wrist seem to embrace one another as the record cruises through dynamic movements. Transitioning between tidal grooves on its crunching guitars and beautiful landscapes of serine moods has a record gleaming in its own reflection as all elements seem to fall together for this moment. Like icing on the cake, vocalist Chino truely finds his moment here with a performance that lasts, illuminating every song, elevating the music with his infectious passion and swooning delivery that will have you singing along with every chorus.

In its less obvious persuasion the Deftones fire up their typical formula of hard hitting riffs and melodic counterparts that stands apart from their previous work. With a tighter inclusion of subtle textural electronics fleshing out the canvas and the aesthetic influences of Post Rock and Post Metal drawing in on the guitar tones, a sonic experience unravels as the line up of riffs drift into noisy, textural places with depth and grit about them. It gives the record another dimension, one that endures repetition with these dense and matured tones feeding back into the music its sounding out.

Beyond engrossing aesthetics, grizzly grooving riffs and Chino's sublime singing, the albums mood and tone is oddly palatable to its environment. Warm or cold, day or night, sun soaked or drenched in miserable rain, the power of these songs find a way to relate, however that may be my enjoyment of the record speaking loudly as one can not deny the acoustic guitars which often bring a dark, cloudy dreariness with them. Its powerful and perhaps that explains why a string of indulgent, melancholy moments can seem fit for any occasion, Chino's voice often leading as the respite from the dark allure as he brings us in.

Upon its release, Koi No Yokan was just another collection of solid Deftones songs but over the years each return to the record has pulled me in further. It plays front to back without a weak spot and so often do I loose myself as soft and subtle instrumentation strings you in to an eruption of mammoth guitar tones grinding out sonic grooves, morphing into expansive atmospheres of energy and beauty. With time the musics graphical pallet continues to outlast itself as its textural depth is endearing to the inspiration the songs hold. Its gotten to the point where I binge in ecstasy over how glorious this band are in this moment. I believe it is their crowning moment as a group, of course it would be wonderful to hear them reach these heights again and I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

 Rating: 10/10

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Celph Titled & Buckwild "Nineteen Ninety Now" (2010)

I first heard about this collaborative record eight years ago when it was first released. That was right in the prime of my interest in 90s Hip Hop, which this album its unsurprisingly all about given the record's name. I was reminded of it recently having dived into Kool G Rap's 4,5,6 album which Buckwild handles a few beats on. Finally getting around to it has been fun but given how much more open minded to music I am now, I can't help but feel I would of enjoyed it far more back when the 90s was all I would listen to. So who are this duo? Buckwild is producer who's worked with the likes of Brand Nubian, Big L, AZ, Puffy Daddy, Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G. Celph I know less about, however I learned through this records lyrics he was part of the group Equilibrium, who's debut 7" record I've enjoyed for years.

As a conceptual record Nineteen Ninety Now worships a glorious part of Hip Hops history by fully embodying the era's aesthetic and attitude. Buckwild pulls out a full set of prime instrumental beats that could mistake anyone of the decade. A keen ear can hear an increased clarity but the atmosphere, the vibes are spot on, as if they've been plucked from Lord Finesse, see Tingin', and Big L, see Wack Juice, records to name a few. These beats seriously parallel the whole approach and style that will have you hearing nods and tributes on every track. Swashbuckling runs through a few beats with heated baseline akin to House Of Pain. The previous track "Fuckmaster Sex" takes a page from the classic Doggystyle, a cut you could easily slip into that record, Celph even does the high pitch rhyme affirmations just like Snoop did. I could go on, its as if Buckwild has made a whole bunch of templates from the era's slickest beats and its all fantastic.

Lyrically I have to be critical, Celph's flow and rhyming ability is undeniable, he has really mastered his swift and well enunciated style but the amount of self affirmation and braggadocio gets tiring as his lyrics reveal a rather bitter and out of touch streak in his personality. Lots of the lyrics get drowned in homophobia and excessive gun worship between criticizing newer generations from a close minded, elitist perspective and hating on many different groups of people. It may be lyrical fun but hes lashing out at a fair few stereotypes that seems overtly judgemental and unprovoked. It could of been an annoyance but unfortunately these topics dominate the narrative. The opening tracks stirs up some fun as the two introduce themselves and praise the era but it doesn't take long for the hate train to start. Its a bittersweet record, the beats are sublime, some fantastic features too but Celph's attitude spoils the message which should of been love not hate.

Favorite Beats: Eraserheads, Mad Ammo, Tingin', There Will Be Blood, Miss Those Days, Styles Ain't Raw
Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Equilibrium "Farenheit 813" (1998)

How did I find this obscure 7" vinyl release? I can barely remember, it was over a decade ago I first heard the Florida trio Equilibrium and found a download on some random, probably now defunct website but the reason I'm writing today is because another record I'm currently enjoying has a voice vaguely reminiscent if not matured and grown up. Then in the middle of a verse reciting his history over the years, rapper Celph Titled drops the name Equilibrium and it all clicks into place!

This four track release comprising of three unique songs and a remix is no gem but it is a fun release with a distinct 90s character that a pair of youthful rappers put there mark on. With young voices and enthusiastic attitudes they bring a plethora of smart, clever rhymes that may not rise to the top but you can certainly commend them and get behind their passion on the mic. The track Windows 98 embodies the charm of their inexperience as they string together all sorts of computer hardware and operating system references into a nonsensical narrative based around the latest OS of the time. The beat made from system sounds is a fantastic touch too.

The other two songs pair bombastic beats with lively samples as the duo rap impressive strings of rhymes with a snappy pace, clever rhyme schemes and intelligent word play. Critical Conditions dives deep into paranoia and government conspiracy theories that makes for an entertaining theme. The remix of that track uses the opening sample of Nancy Wilson's famous Ain't No Sunshine, a classic sample Ive heard used by Method Man & Redman, M.O.P & Lords Of The Underground to name a few. Farenheit 813 is a short but sweet record Ive enjoyed many, many times over the years, a fun listen for a Hip Hop fan.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Lil Uzi Vert "Luv Is Rage 2" (2017)

 Of all the so called Mumble Rap that's peaking these days, Lil Uzi Vert has been the most interesting to catch my attention, his dazed and confused feature on the Migos song Bad & Boujee and an infectious "all my friends are dead" hook on the Xo Tour Lif3 single has had me put off this record for too long now. It's his debut album, a squeal to a mix tape of the same name and after a few years of building up steam he debuted at the top spot of American billboard charts, going on to turn platinum earlier this year.

Success aside the music is the most interesting aspect of course and Lil Uzi marks his presence as an emotional voice centered in the heart of the aesthetic. Although they call it rap, he blurs the lines, often singing infectiously with a wealth of auto tune and dreamy reverberations to abstruse his words and let the feelings flow as dissonance and "mumbling" often makes for many incoherent sentences that aids it to feeling over clarity. When in the rhymes its often simplistic, overtly repetitive and so ones attention might drift into the chemistry that's beyond the words, however when singing the record really illuminates as a plethora of memorable hooks and singing charms each of the songs.

Despite being trendy and currently "mainstream" these instrumentals come across as esoteric and dystopian, in an oddly warm and inviting way. Images of rain soaked neon light cities come to mind but that is my personal experience. Lil Uzi raps his way through heartbreak and pains on an open, emotionally lead journey that has its moments of braggadocio focused on wealth and lifestyle but mostly offers something rather different from the norm. Around him washy, deep and swooning beats create an airy atmosphere that's constantly lost in its own haze. Its indulgent, relaxing and often memorizing as exotic synths bleed with reverb over tight, contrasting trap grooves.

Each of the songs create a distinction and a few stand out. On the stripped back and gritty For Real, Lil Uzi drops back on his rap skills for a track that feels of a totally different temperament. Early 20 Rager does something similar and the flow is broken up as a couple of tracks pull away from what really works and that is Lil Uzi singing, getting into his zone and lighting up this strange and wonderful place that's emotionally honest and yet feels out of space, like a never ending drug trip.

Favorite Tracks: The Way Life Goes, Feelings Mutual, Malfunction, Xo Tour Life
Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Author & Punisher "Pressure Mine" (2018)

California musician and one man band Tristian Shone caught my attention with his recent documentary on the popular Noisey channel. Hailed as "Industrial Doom Metal" the more intriguing aspect of his music were the live performances, marked by the use of custom built controllers which are normally simple knobs, dials and sliders. In Shones case hes hand built big, weighty metallic contraptions, industrial in nature, that require some sweat and phsicality to manipulate as he pushes and pulls these machine like contraptions to forge the details of sounds formed by the VSTs on his DAW. Unfortunately its not obvious in audio form, his custom controllers are used in the composition and recording of the five tracks on this EP but they make no audible distinction from an expectant range of sounds that grace this short record. I wouldn't call it novelty, in fact I think its a fantastic approach to make the music more physical and involved but that only comes across in the live show. 

Pressure Mine celebrates a lack of comfort, wellness or embrace. Its textural journey travels through sterile dystopian soundscapes into the crevasses caught between darkness and evil. The mechanical grinding and whirls of truly Industrial machinery sound rich and detailed in construct yet spacious and devoid of intent. They mull away, acting as the percussive line while saddened, lost, catatonic melodies drift though, comatose and absent from surroundings. Tristian's voice lays bare and vulnerable in a soft small room reverb. Its cold, icy and distance from the other elements and initially seemed to lack some power. The chemistry makes more sense with repeated listens, as one gets their head around the atmosphere and abstract source of melodic value, his voice really becomes like a light drowning in the lifeless machinery its surrounded by.

The whole record works as a textural treat, the slow punishing drive of Doom Metal guides the rhythm to focus on its mechanics, never drifting into grooves or breaks and going slow enough to let each hit strike with shape and aesthetic. The music has a drone like quality as the pace crawls away steadily, obscure, haunting sounds drifting like echos and forming some notation to stir bleak emotions in this chilling environment. Nine Inch Nails have a a big and obvious impact on the constructs of this sound but its just an influence. Although the ties are strong and clear Tristian takes that inspiration to very interesting places within these five unforgiving songs.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Drudkh "Їм часто сниться капіж" (2018)

Hailing from deep within the endless forests of eastern Europe, Ukraine Black Metal outfit Drudkh release a full length album named in their mother tongue, translated it reads "They often see dreams about the spring". With five lengthy track of bleak, chromatic droning I got more of a sense of looming death at the hands of mother nature than the blossom of spring. Its long sprawling riffs shred shrill tones in a constant tumble of bleak grinding that when put in focus seems all to abrasive. Little charm emerged from its foundations, moments of respite through acoustics and the calming entrance of synths sparked some interest in brief shifts of tone but mostly its a drab and pale affair.

In the right mood this chromatic droning can be rather indulging and relaxing. The constant rumbling of the drums and the high tremble bass guitar plodding away becomes hypnotic as the textural shifts and directional changes seem to magnify with a sense of epic proportion. Stepping back from its harsh and ugly aesthetic doesn't leave one with many impressionable moments other than its break aways, like a singular moment in the middle of the third track. The harsh, angular grinding of steep riffs seems to fall wayside to a deep uprising of male choral voices upon soft synth that buries the guitar and elevates the music to a wondrous place. The following track dabbled a little with this too and the penultimate track has an epic conclusion as synths help elevate its climactic end to soaring heights.

Unfortunately for me, too much of the record is based around its harsh, unforgiving approach to atmosphere and so my attention doesn't serve it well. The most enjoyable moments came from synths and choral sounds that would overwhelm the guitar, soften the tone and elevate the mood but it was far and few between. I hold this band in high regard, I appreciate their approach to the genre and I will continue to be curious about their records even if its not quite for me it has been worth my time.

Rating: 5/10

Friday, 20 April 2018

Winterfylleth "The Hallowing Of Heirdom" (2018)

Hailing from the city of Manchester, Winterfylleth have harvested a reputation as being one of English Black Metal's more exciting bands, maybe even the UK's Metal scene in general as they have made a name for themselves, embracing the lands heritage with their music. I'm somewhat ignorant to them, having only briefly listened to some of their previous records. I thought I'd give this new one try and It was not what I was expected for they have done what many bands before have done and entirely removed all of the Metal from their sound, leaving them to explore their influences and inspirations with lush instrumentation of acoustic, cultural instruments that echo visions of eras gone by.

The Hallowing Of Heirdom is a transformative listen, its earthly, mellow choral chants underline and uplift these songs with its heathen roots as worrisome stringed instruments sing the blues and hardships of rural life. With serine acoustic guitars and an inspired composition of cultural instrumentation the atmosphere becomes vivid with the mild and moody weather of England's restless shores. Across these twelve songs we travel through different temperaments, exploring imagination as these beautiful and quaint melodies inspire visions of natural beauty and the mythic culture of simpler times ravaged by the cruelty of mother natures embrace.

The opening track The Shepherd makes a remarkable entrance as the albums most gorgeous and charming song, it is also the records most involved and "complex" as we explore this world through songs that mostly become somewhat stripped back in comparison, perhaps leaning on the acoustic guitar or singular instruments. It feels fitting of the albums vision to not always lean to the most engrossing moments where the music essentially crescendos as all the voices line up together but through the record it finds its way to these peaks a fair few times.

Although a wonderfully indulgent experience it is not without its lulls, moments where it drifts off into itself however that feels unavoidable given the select handful of instruments that make up this clear and potent sound. Initially I was in awe of its beauty but then it hit me, I have visited this pagan realm before. The Nymph sparked my memory, its composition very akin to Agalloch's The White record. Both are wonderful listens but this one stretches itself a little thin in comparison however that's no reason not to enjoy this wonderfully scenic and soulful music.

Favorite Tracks: The Shepherd, Elder Mother, The Nymph
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Izioq "Hey Listen!" (2018)

Within the space of a week we have been graced with two new, short but sweet Izioq records! Late Night Golfing ventured into the spacey, nostalgic world of vaporware and the cutely named Hey Listen! brings us back to familiar territory. Its another selection of warm, fuzzy and carefree songs arriving here, set to relax and wind us down with colorful melodies that breeze through fields of innocence. Much of this record hits on the familiar childhood feels, the mixing of retro textured Chiptune VGM instruments and soft synths with warm piano melodies is as vibrant and characteristic as ever. Another round of youthful and spirited songs play us through the wonders of imagination, Its much of what Ive said before that applies again and so its probably unsurprising that my focus turns to the moments of difference.

The title track erupts with some spice as Latino guitars bustle warm cultural chords, somehow mixing right in with splashes of sound that introduce bright, cheerful melodies on chirpy waveform instruments, the chemistry is wonderful and unexpected. Hermits gets a nod for its wonderfully quirky opening tune that swiftly finds its way into a warm and spirited place as the music so often does, its opening goof diverting expectations. The Album will perk ears with a sampling of Lisa Simpsons voice, the song itself slow and dreamy, drifting in a precarious, slightly dreary but free of danger atmosphere. The final track Happy Meal sounds almost like another project altogether, its deep and rich atmosphere pulling on emotional strings similar to the likes of Sigur Ros, its welcome but feels like a different avenue of mood. All in all its another fine collections of melodies with a couple of sparks from rewarding experimentation.

Favorite Tracks: Hey Listen!, Hermits
Rating: 5/10

Monday, 16 April 2018

Logic "Bobby Tarantino II" (2018)

Its another case of "I keep hearing that name" and in Logic's case I may deserve a slap for not getting around to the Beverly Hills rapper sooner. At almost ten years into his career Logic has graced every year with an album or mix tape, of which this is the latter, a squeal to his 2016 mix tape of the same name. The intro track alone lets you know he has fans in cultural places, a feature from the fictional characters Rick and Morty play out an amusing narrative of the two debating which Logic project they wish to enjoy together on their intergalactic travels.

To start of with some unapologetic praise, my experience with Bobby Tarantino II leads me to believe that Logic may just be the amalgamation of Hip Hop's past, present and possibly future as the young rapper seems to have a master on the prominent styles and techniques associated with spitting rhymes on the mic. Across the fourteen tracks he displays a mastery of his own ability as words arrive in all manor of deliveries. From relaxed, laid back, half sung and auto tuned lines to rapid technical flows delivering a torrents of rhymes in choppy rhythms, Logic also hits on many mid paced flows too, showing hes got a wealth of style to pull on.

There aren't many moments of pure originality but whatever technique is brought to the mic, he owns it. When in comes to topics a lot of the album lyrics revolves around self relevance, the hard work and hustle to establish himself and defiance at his critics. Its all wrapped in smart and sleek, sturdy rhyme schemes that generally hits a reasonably high bar of quality without too many exceptional moments. As much as I enjoy his rhymes and flow they wern't responsible for the moments that stood out the most to me on this project.

Behind his voice we have a equally high bar of entry for the instrumentals which have a wonderful balance of older sample driven styles and modern trap influenced production that keeps things flowing fresh and fun from start to end. Indica Badu's laid back, summer and sun instrumental peaks the vibes at the records midpoint but its Logic's singing in the chorus and on Boomtrap Protocol that elevates the music. This plays into what I was talking about at the beginning of this article, hes mastered a lot with his voice and its special when he bounces between rhymes to singing the hooks.

 Overall I feel like this was a fantastic introduction to a very talented individual, however I get this impression he can do better. There's little to criticize but a lot of the topics he rhymes about feel a step behind his technique. Id also point out 44 More sounds very similar to Kendrick Lamar's DNA. One thing he has got down is the singing and use of auto tune. The songs with strong choruses really light up from the passion he brings through his voice. Fantastic record! Gonna have to work my way through his back catalog now!

Rating: 7/10
Favorite Tracks: Boomtrap Protocol, Indica Badu, Warm It Up, Everyday

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Turnstile "Space & Time" (2018)

Hailing from Baltimore USA, Hardcore Punk outfit Turnstile are set to make a splash with this fantastic sophomore album released through the reputable Roadrunner Records. Despite playing in a genre that's approaching its forth decade the five piece group bring a healthy dose of youthful vitality to give every thrashing of a power chord and striking of the drum kit a sense of urgency and meaning. From the get go its a grabbing listen set to suck you in and spit you out ready to take on the world! At just twenty five minutes its a short and sweet thrashing that leaves one rejuvenated.

With a crisp, finely cut production, Turnstile's charisma is squeezed out with succulent, appetizing guitar tones, ripping with a bright, blinding distortion the lets every riffs intensity breeze by. The hard thrashing of chords, leaning into Crossover territory at times is a constant driving force but its not where the band charm, or should I say charm the most, these riffs slam hard! With keen compositions they interpolate aesthetics, disrupting and rerouting the intensity that's all to obvious with the straightforward Hardcore approach. Each song finds its moment to steer the ship in smart yet slightly unconventional directions to much avail.

On the heated, angered Generator this direction becomes obvious when the song seems set to erupt yet falls back into a shoegazing calm of aesthetic guitar effects and sampled drum loop that then swiftly jumps out into a chomping guitar riff illuminated by fantastic vocals and a swell guitar solo. For the other songs that dabble in this play with unexpected directions it is often the vocals that play a key role as the fiery shouts and screams seem a distant memory in the wake of smooth, gleaming vocal lines that rise above the instrumental. It has to be said the screams are fantastic tho, and very akin to a young Tom Araya of the legendary Slayer.

In other instances its less obvious, like the frantic piano stabbing that elevates the fast pummeling riffage of High Pressure, adding a real sharp intensity for a brief moment. It always seems like their is a quirk up the sleeve, a slightly unusual idea to give a very structured sound a sense of freedom and exploration as the songs steer themselves into exciting moments with plenty of mini guitar solos to lead you into the fun. It comes from all angles with creative drum grooves and clap sounds dropping in to abstract the norm in opportune moments too.

Space & Time is such a fun, vibrant and youthful record that is simply brimming with excitement as its aesthetic and compositions continually dazzle and erupt with aggressive energies that are steered away from dark places. Thanks to its creativity, the anger is often uplifted as brooding guitar riffs find a touch of bounce and groove, ready to steer things upwards as the songs take their usual shifts into interesting places. One thing to note, the introduction of these more melodic, warm musical voices greatly out shine the songs more routed to the norm. Fantastic record with some clear winners in the track listing!

Favorite Tracks: Generator, I Don't Wanna Be Blind, Can't Get Away, Moon, Time & Space
Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Cardi B "Invasion Of Privacy" (2018)

American rapper Cardi B's breakout single Bodak Yellow caught my attention, as it did for many people. The hit single has gone five times platinum, launching her career into the limelight of the Hip Hop scene. Her unapologetic attitude, empowered delivery and plain use of language lets her Bronx accent charm on the microphone while she flows at a steady, sturdy pace that's easy to take in. She's got a vivid persona, energy and passion thats all about her rise to fame, a rags to riches tale of working hard to escape her life as a stripper and make in the rap industry, which no one can take away from her now given her record breaking arrival on the scene.

Unfortunately there is little substance beyond her hustle hard story which is told well on the opening track. With the album loading its best tunes into the first five tracks it quickly descends into a mud slinging romp of aggressive hyperbole after she tells her break up story on Be Careful. It starts with Chance The Rapper who features on Best Life, singing with a weak temperament, delivering a forgettable chorus repeating the "skrt skrt" noise over and over. From this point the record losses me entirely, either its the beats, rhymes or singing but something on earth track just rubs me the wrong way.

Money Bag has a banging beat and Cardi's flow is fire but lyrically is all to bitter and spiteful to enjoy, constantly taking hits at her doubters over and over again. When its become the recurrent theme to talk down at the same people it gets stale quickly. Every song focuses on throwing out insults while showing off her wealth and riches with a typically materialistic and braggadocios manor. These are the points where rappers can easily loose me and unfortunately it seems to be all Cardi has to offer beyond her endearing rags to riches story told in the first few songs.

The production is as modern and trendy as it gets. Pretty much all you could expect from the current state of Hip Hop. Some of the songs really go overboard on the "skrt skrt" sounds and goofy noises, the Migos manage hold themselves back somewhat and drop in with breezy verses utilizing a lot of spacious reverb to much effect on Drip. She Bad on the other hand has the laziest hook writing Ive heard in some time, just repeating the same words over and over. Ultimately this record just leaves me disappointed, I hope Cardi can find some real subject matter to get her teeth into on future albums because without substance her flow feels wasted to me.

Favorite Tracks: Get Up 10, Bodak Yellow
Rating: 3/10

Friday, 13 April 2018

Steve Roach "Structures From Silence" (1984)

Every now and then you stumble on the record you have been waiting to hear, years of adoring ambient music has had me desiring for an experience so simple yet deeply majestic and here it is. American composer Steve Roach's third full length is considered a classic within the genre and it takes one listen to know why. The seventies brought in an electronics revolution thanks to the likes of Kraftwerk and Progressive Rock outfits who embraced synthesizers. Brian Eno emerged at the forefront of this musical movement with his Ambient record series, brandishing the term and laying down foundations that would inspire many artists to come.

One of them is Steve Roach, who on this record focuses much of his efforts into the texture of his synthesizers, which at the time were big old clunky machines that had lots of knobs, dials and cables to manage. Working them was a true craft that would of taken Steve much time to achieve the gloriously soft and airy tones heard on this record. That may of made it sound like a novelty of sorts but the power and magic of these finely tuned instruments gives tremendous weight to stirring an enchanting atmosphere that's stood the test of time.

In terms of its composition, many sounds are temporal and devoid of any obvious melody or structure. These three songs, thirteen, seventeen and almost thirty minutes long focus on the arrival, duration and departure of astral synths that find chemistry with one another in their passing encounters. The length of one note bleeds into another an in some instances their unions persuade with the power of a chord but its temporal nature diverts the pace and measure required for melody to emerge, giving enigmatic influences to the instruments ability to memorize with its aesthetic.

The atmosphere and visions it conjures may be rather personal. Its smooth, calming persuasion and gentle pace is undoubtedly relaxing and soothing but the places it takes you may differ from one listener to the next. For me a feeling of immersion in a moment takes place. Time stands still and one can gaze their eyes upon the details that a slice of time has hidden in its arcane mystery. Color and cosmic wonder cross the mind in what to many might be star gazing music, to look up and ponder, to look inwards and reflect. Steve's compositions put the mind at ease and subsequently opens a door to deeper thoughts locked in the crevasses of the mind.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Kool G Rap "4, 5, 6" (1995)

Prior to some research on this record, I would of lumped in Queens rapper Kool G Rap in the Golden Era of Hip Hop, simply for my vague memories enjoying his records with DJ Polo and also as a name I hear a lot of my favorite 90s rapper cite as a big influence. Turns out he is considered an originator of Mafioso Rap for some of his street rhymes with DJ Polo. After three records the two split and this debut as a solo artist comes out right at the peak of Mafioso Rap's emergence. Around the same time Raekwon, AZ, Nas, Mobb Deep, Notorious B.I.G and Jay-Z dropped classics in the sub-genre. Its what caught my ear when it spun on shuffle. Ive been binging it the last few days and adoring how sweetly it sits into that moment of time, its truly of the era.

My biggest take away from this record is Kool himself, his ability and technical prowess is simply undeniable! He spits fast and concise with a strong tone that makes every word visible as he navigates through tricky flows of rhymes that one might say "he makes sound easy". The reality is obvious that he is rhyming tough and hard, fast technical schemes that pay off with his ability. It makes me think Ive overlooked a great here. If his ability is great the lyrical content may be a step behind, coherent story telling violent word play doesn't have quite the emotional weight to reinforce his impressive ability. Kool navigates us through tough Mafioso rhymes of hardcore street life and criminology rap thats gritty and dark, steeped in violence and gang life however it always feels short of a point or any social context or message.

The production is all you could hope for from a mid nineties Hip Hop album. Caught in that sweet spot between jazzy samples and programmed instrumentation, it plays out with a nice amount variety reflected with the tone of songs like "Take Em To War", dark, menacing and gloomy which over a few songs finds its way to "Fast Life", a sunny summer party track flashing the wealth and lifestyle side of family crime life. On first listen I was literally thinking this song would be perfect for Nas who then steps on the mic and delivers a fantastic verse. Parts of the record felt a little deju-va, as some of the songs feeling somewhat cast from the mold. Echos of Big L's instrumental style can be heard with the same samples and gang shouts parallel to his debut. Of course looking into the producers we have Buckwild who explains the similarity, his "Blowin' Up In The World" has some of the same beats, samples from Big L and the gang shouts have to be by the same guys! Maybe it was a left over from that session that made it here.

If I sound critical, its all praise, the production is wonderful, the instrumentals are what I love with exception to the final track that samples Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man. Its a really fun instrumental but its totally contrasted against the violent, money obsessed lyrics. It just sounds odd as a whole. Overall its a sharp and keen album that's bang on the Mafioso crime family vibes and I feel it falls a little short in terms of lyrical substance however the brilliance of Kool is obvious and I'm left feeling like I need to get better acquainted with his work.

Favorite Tracks: Blownin' Up In The World, Fast Life, Ghetto Knows
Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Izioq "Late Night Golfing" (2018)

Coming in just shy of sixteen minutes we have a new, short and concise release from Izioq, the French composer of fun, playful music that ties itself closely to video game music and 90s childhood nostalgia. Late Night Golfing is the first album to experiment beyond the traditional style Izioq has established, with clear and obvious Vapourwave vibes which are also echoed in the albums cover. Its saturated colors and 90s computer rendering art being in tune with the genres practices, as well as the music itself.

It doesn't however feel like much of an experimentation, the tone and atmosphere feels settled and established with the Vapourwave aesthetic from the get go, however that doesn't start until the third song. The first two feel like the link between records as lead melodies play out inspiring, innocent tunes over soft, airy, floating synth tones, much like you would expect. With Golf! the record kicks into gear, the melodies dwindle down to simpler forms and the atmosphere of warm and wavy cloud synths take over in a meditative persuasion.

For these five songs a simple set of instruments and light reverberated percussion shift on simple A B structures. The compositions capture that airy, carefree and indulgent mood and they inhabit a sweet spot to drift into as the repetition drones in comfort. The last track has some strong Brian Eno vibes and the whole thing is simply pleasant and easy on the listener, its only downfall is perhaps the lack of time spent in this curious, easy going place. At just sixteen minutes each listen requires a repeat!

Favorite Tracks:
Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Death Grips "No Love Deep Web" (2013)

Not long of the back of their utterly brilliant Money Store debut, the Sacramento trio Death Grips surround themselves in controversy by releasing this album for free online despite their record label Epic pushing back the release date to clear the sampling rights. It ended up with them being dropped from the label, that and the album cover stirred up a lot of talk around the record. To write the album name across an erect penis is a pretty bizarre antic, the fact they did it and used it is pure art, even if obscene or offensive to some when an idea is brought into the physical world its reactions have meaning, even if mostly comical or amusing and sometimes upsetting.

They are steeped in rebellion, deconstructing any norms with their behavior and antics however it wouldn't be as interesting without the music and in this moment I think we find the group at their most cohesive and uniformed musically. No Love Deep Web is a highly synthetic record, steeped in electronic tones that make for a steady and consistent thirteen tracks that flow together in any order. Whats great is that it doesn't bore or tire in its forty five minute duration however there are clearly high and low points with Black Dice's hooks and melodies not quite landing as hard with a rather tame MC Ride rhyming in a temperate manor.

In comparison the opener Come Up And Get me is an absolute banger, as many songs are from this record, its monstrous engulfing bass noise and stereo panned synths are as dizzying as the paranoid and manic MC Ride who spews out dark and troubling narratives in a frantic manor, playing out the last moments of a paranoid schizophrenic individuals last moments seemingly being hunted for some wrong doing. The tone set on its opener is fitting for whole record where Ride seems to be falling into the darkness of apathy and misanthropy as he deconstructs human behavior to a deeply lonely and suspicious mindset.

His dark and violent persona is oddly contrasted to the instrumentals, they don't align with one another yet the chemistry is just magic. With a high tolerance for experimentation, elasticated grooves and of kilter beats intersect conventional rhythms which sharp, crisp and snappy textures. The electronics play off these tight drums with a keen ear, often complementing the grooves with spacious songs that play of their groove. The electronics and synths are very spacey and "out there". Lots of rich alien textures and quirky melodies that between thirteen tracks have a lot of variety while still sounding very uniform. Pop is the records most spacey song, its charging up synth noises leading into a astral melody exemplifies this quality in the record.

I rate this album highly for how fantastic and interesting it was before I knew it like the back of my hand. With time it feels as if half the tracks have staled somewhat as these songs do lack a certain density to them. The compositions in all fairness are relatively minimalist, the noisy nature of the electronics do mask its simplicity but one half of the record that's never been a problem. Those songs have held up tremendously well and a handful would be contenders for my favorite Death Grips songs.

Favorite Tracks: Come Up And Get Me, Lil Boy, No Love, Hunger Games, Pop, Bass Rattle Stars Out The Sky, Artificial Death In The West
Rating: 9/10

Monday, 9 April 2018

Sarah Longfield "Collapse // Expand" (2017)

Sarah Longfield is one of a fair few rising stars in the "Youtube Musician" world that's been steadily growing over these last few years. Her flashy guitar skills and rainbow paint 8 string guitar stand out in the crowd. A new single and music video had me come check this record out! However I just learned its actually over a year old but who says you can't release singles for old songs? Its definitely one of the best songs of the albums ten tracks which clock in at thirty seven minutes.

Sarah's style falls very snugly into the colorful, guitar revolving post-Djent sound that's seen Meshuggah's violent use of 8-strings guitars somehow evolve into a fruitful musical forum of bright, luminous guitar playing that puts dazzling melodies and blazing lead guitar skills at the forefront of its ambitious sound. It mostly began with Animals As Leaders and Gru who Sarah doesn't distinguish her music from much with this record. The jittery, fluttering electronic percussion and sweeping, looping melodies feature heavily and with tracks like "Concentration Chaos" where she actually steps further into the electronic side of this sound with a very interesting composition that's got an alien, yet harmless, curious atmosphere about it.

The electronics are a huge part of this record and the opening song "A New Discovery" doesn't make a first impression well. Its opening guitar chords and glitched synth noises sound almost lifted from the Animals As Leaders blueprint. However as the album develops its electronic presence becomes integral as sweeping synths, busying melodies and all flavors of rich synth tones wrap themselves around the guitars with a dreamy helping of reverberation. In some moments the lead guitar tones even seem to merge or morph with them as its layers of sounds work in tandem.

The Djent aspect is really downplayed. No big punching tones are accentuated and the moments where the music drops back to rhythm guitar are sparse and well executed with temperate grooves and light yet punchy distortions. The lead guitar playing is phenomenal with luscious two handed tapping sweeping up and down the strings in semi acoustic tones, interchanging with traditional lead playing with a pick, all across bright, colorful and inspired melodies one can follow with adventure. Her vocals too feature at attune moments where her soft and meek voice can find its space to evolve the atmosphere.

These songs are wonderful at breezing their way through a journey. With a lack of traditional song structure they twist and turn, weaving their webs with a sense of journey that has you riding the melody from one moment to the next. Its the density of the additional elements around the lead guitar that really solidify and holds its presence to command a bright, warm, slightly alien atmosphere that's intriguing and charming from start to finish.

Favorite Tracks: Ember, Tydes, Illuminate
Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Pallbearer "Sorrow And Extinction" (2012)

Sorrow And Extinction is a gloomily fitting title for this sullen, bewildering debut record by the acclaimed American Doom Metal band Pallbearer of Arkansas. Charmed by their newer albums Foundations Of Burden and Heartless I wanted to complete my journey through their catalog, which is rooted in a genre Ive never fully connected with. Their artistic approach to Doom Metal has the deathly slow pace traversed with burly lunges of oozing guitar distortion, making a mark on the genre far more interesting and intricate. Coming back to this origin point one can hear the cracks and creeks in the sound that would be greased out by their sophomore but even its flaws are mostly aesthetic.

Once again Pallbearer have me at the mercy of their sludgy pacing and dense foggy distortion tone. The feeling of imminent gloom and suffering revels in a bleak landscape that seems to find life just above the swampy guitar movements that crawl and lunge forward with a burden weighing it down so. This dark and esoteric sound has a natural and decaying quality where music of this nature so often falls into the realm of of evil and fantasy, something feels root and grounded, deeply earthly about Pallbearers journey through sorrows.

The guitar are poised at the mercy of singer Campbell who swings it in this carnal, earthly direction as his light and cruising voice swiftly sails out from the depths with finely held notes that coarse through the mist with an ambiguous touch of reverb that's both ghostly and living at the same time. The moments where he sings as lead guitars erupt over the brooding guitars are the most fantastic on this record. The leads too inflict much needed respite from the monstrous guitars as they break up the monotony and blossom with color and motion.

The album falls short where it fails to maintain its balance, or keep from letting the gloom become too engulfing. Treating the album as a single experience their are lengthy passageways devoid of that important break and respite that brings the music to life and gives the sprawling guitar sludge a sense of hidden beauty, for when it drags it drags its feet slowly. In the moments the chemistry is ripe its a very captivating listen but lengthy compositions hold these moments at bay. I also found the production to be a little jagged with its handling of the dense guitars which can all to easy dominate in a very interesting musical setting.

Favorite Tracks: Devoid Of Redemption
Rating: 6/10

Friday, 6 April 2018

Childish Gambino "Because The Internet" (2013)

Gambino's final album Awaken, My Love was a real treat of rich, indulgent, soulful music reviving the sounds and emotions from genres mostly originating in the early decades of the last millennium. I very much enjoyed it and going back to his prior releases I was expecting the shift to Rap and Hip Hop but not the freedom and creativity this record endures. At the time I caught wind of the release was only through negative reviews and I'm wondering what on earth they heard that was so bad?

This album is warm, breezy and fun, an exploratory journey with plenty of the Soul, R&B, Psychedelia and Jazz creeping in that would blossom to become the main focus on Awaken. If there is a complaint it may be Glover's rap persona, a rather wild, fun and carefree character who jumps all over the place with topics and a wide variety of eccentric moments to disrupt the norm in his raps which come with a healthy variety of flows. Personally I find it refreshing even if its not a home run each time, Glover is expressing himself with an endearing charm and plenty of mature lyrics between his energetic outbursts.

The album warms up with the aforementioned sounds of previous decades, fusing soulful, jazzy instrumentation and samples with tight, sharp beats. As it grows, modern sounds of Dance, Synthpop and even Rave creep into some tracks for some real banging party numbers in between a flow of rather indulgent, experimental and unstructured music. From the mid to end the album struggles with pacing as many halfway tracks are littered between skits and short quirky tracks. Its mostly good artistic fun but the album suffers from a lack of direction from this point as the music falls into a whirlpool of ideas that keep jumping from one to the next before being fully realized, despite showing lots of musical chemistry and charm.

Because The Internet is a fun free for all of musical ideas and inspired creativity that's fresh, exciting but unstructured, youthful and without focus. Your opinion could swing either way and I find myself in awe of the moments where its chemistry flows and a little frustrated when it dips into the swirling of ideas that don't lead anywhere. For it to be one thing or the other would be great but caught in the middle it becomes a mixed bag of fruits that certainly yields some fantastic songs to come back to over and over again. As a listening experience its drags its feet periodically and that's a little sad as Donald Glover is clearly a very talented man but on this release its perhaps its a lack of experience that hinders it.

Favorite Tracks: Crawl, Worldstar, Shadows, Oakland, 3005, Life Is The Biggest Troll
Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Suicidal Tendencies "Get Your Fight On!" (2018)

It would seem that Suicidal are in a stride. The legendary Crossover Thrash outfit from Venice beach have graced this decade with dedicated touring and a couple of albums, of which this short EP is warming us up for another album to come later in the year. Their last effort World Gone Mad was a reasonable release but for an old band sticking to their roots there was little too surprise with. If they wanted to wet the appetite with this EP then there isn't much in sight of originality or creativity beyond doing their sound again. Consisting of a Stooges cover, three new songs and two re-recordings from singer Mike Muir's solo project Cyco Miko. The EP is brief and fun for a couple of listens but that's about it.

 With new tracks Get United and iAuthority, the band stir up a warm atmosphere with jiving baselines prowling and acoustic guitar riffs in the main sections. It creates a rather musical and relaxed setting for Mike to get angry with his passionate shouts. The full on guitar distortion comes in with an exotic color in the chorus, flavorful and punchy however on Nothing To Loose and S.E.D. its business as usual with fast chomping Hardcore beats and dizzying thrash guitars with Mike throwing down is usual eccentric vocal inflections. With just a singular moment of interest through Get United this EP offers little other than what you'd expect, if its the same old Suicidal your looking for then you got it right here.

Favorite Track: Get United
Rating: 3/10

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Migos "Culture II" (2018)

Prior to picking up this album I watched a video essay about the length of the record. At a trying hour and forty five minutes this follow up to their hit record Culture is a double album loaded with mediocrity. The essay theorized that artists may pursue longer play times in order to inflate stream numbers and increase record sales certifications. Its a reasonable theory that sighted Drake's More Life as a release which is actually labeled as a playlist as opposed to an album or record.

If the Migos where aiming at streaming culture and extended play sessions then they certainly achieved that. Culture II's production has a hypnotic, indulgent and easy vibe one can sink into as the lyrics and words pass you by. The length comes at a price, with exception to a less that a handful of tracks most these songs only hit a reasonable faction of excitement. There are very few gems in a lengthy lull that plays like background music, mood setting but hardly immediate. Even if condensed to a single album It would struggle to peak beyond setting the Migos tone.

The trio give an impression of being self indulged, "in the moment" and living in the moment. In other words, It doesn't feel like much of whats being said is thought through or even revised. Many of the hooks lack depth, wit, weight or anything other than feeling like they are vibeing with the music. On occasions it works but the lack of filter means a lot of repetition and a plethora of goofy, ridiculous lyrics, "pulling up like huggies" a line that makes me chuckle every time, of which there are many.

The Migos vocals and instrumentals have that middle line of trendy noises and vocal quirks like the "skrt skrt" that tie the two aspects together. In this instance they go overboard, to the point I was constantly laughing at the dorky vocal inflections and auto tune manipulations that again come in abundance with very little filter. I think I said it with the last record but a decade or two from now these are going to sound very dated. They are executed with style, image and swagger over artistic intent and articulated expression. It says very little other than "cool" and trendy.

Culture II is a slug of a record on the lyrical front. It has a handful of mediocre, uninspired features. Post Malone sounds under utilized but a surprise came in the way of Cardi B and Niki Minaj who brought two strong verses, vicious and full of attitude they dropped train of thought narratives that rise like a monolith with nothing similar else in sight. It lit up a track the Migos where mumbling their way through until the two of them gave it some substance. Its obvious the Migos are all about mood and tone which no one can do it like they do, unfortunately this record has very little beyond a saturated vibe.

Favorite Tracks: Stir Fry, Motorsport
Rating: 5/10