Monday, 27 April 2020

IGORRR "Spirituality And Distortion" (2020)

Its been a wild discovery that has teetered on the border of novelty at times. The cluster bomb of cultural, historic and extreme genres colliding in the melting pot that is IGORRR has put French musician Gautier Serre on the ones to watch list. A few years back I caught a live show on the Savage Sinusoid tour and their expansion into a live band showed a promise I believe has carried over onto this newest record.

Beautifully crisp and blisteringly punchy, the percussion holds like a precision drill pounding away with menace as rapid bursts of drums hold everything locked in place with a dynamic magnetism. Inching further away from the break beats and sampling of past, the tone and compositions have a far stronger framework for all the wacky, Baroque and Black Metal inspired musical madness that takes places within these choppy, dizzying assaults of rhythmic battering. Its not a constant haze however, the temperaments change and flow with the music with great understanding.

As a whole Spirituality And Distortion tones down the manic in favor of good song writing. Many of the structures and paths it wanders feel meaningful and satisfying. The balance of polar extremes have cohesion. With more purpose in mind, they work together to flow with the drastic shifts, from calm and serine to slabs of meaty crushing guitar and brutal break beats. It all has direction forging far more gratifying music.

In brief moments where its extremes are not obvious, one might mistake this for a more conventional Metal band. Its a good thing, this eclectic identity has found balance that prevails with authority. The recurring voices of Laurent and Laure let the screams and cultural singing take on an identity where once random sampling showed its stitched nature. Now things are far more inspired. Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse also lends his thunderous death growls on Parpaing for a pleasant tale of rot an ruin in the house of corpses. Its not a bad song but probably my least favorite as they try to hash together conventional Death Metal with this far more flavorful sound.

Favorite Tracks: Downgrade Desert, Very Noise, Hollow Tree, Lost In Introspection, Overweight Posey, Polyphonic Rust
Rating: 8/10

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Grimes "Halfaxa" (2010)

Moving back another record from Visions we hear a distinctive shift in tone and composition that signifies the scaling evolution of Grimes as an artist. Halfaxa has the bedroom experimenter sound intact at an embryonic stage of development. The songs feel further from design, embedded as exercises, each track offering up various textural experiments between the dingy synths and her performative voice. At this stage she has her distinct charm but is yet to channel them into an impactful avenue.

For the most part it is her voice, dressed up in ambiguous reverb and echoes that dazzles. Constantly dancing in layers of arrangement around narrow, tempo keeping percussive drives, Grimes forges a constantly curious and peculiar environment. Its unsettled, yet lavish with an Ethereal quality. A couple moments of cohesion appear where more standard expectations of music create convention but on the whole its a wacky ride through quirky, advantageous experiments that land on something seemingly distant from other forms, approaching an illusive feeling of uniqueness.

Its fifteen songs at fifty two minutes tend to drone on, from one to the next without many peaks or valleys. Occasionally big slabs of keyboard synth tone drop in, creating a deja vu between other music I've heard them before. Its a fun listen but with most the songs just playing through a series of ideas with little direction, it pales in comparison of whats to come. Definitely worth but unable to shake the embryonic feeling.

Rating: 5/10

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Ocean Grove "Black Label" (2015)

In light of whats to come on their debut record The Rhapsody Tapes, the Australian group can be heard here at the crossroads, steadily shedding their Metalcore roots and bringing about the Nu Metal elements to their sound. Black Label strangely parallels this trajectory as some Deathcore elements in the opening tracks gets weened out as more Nu Metal ideas inch in. Guitar tones, vocal stylings, syncopated riffs and the classic creepy Korn high pitched guitar noises all tend to mirror the genre that peaked twenty years ago. Although Ocean Grove pull it off with an enjoyable presence of expression, at times some of these ideas undoubtedly pull from the smellier side of Nu Metal, which there was a lot of back at its peak.

They are yet to land on the right arrangement of elements that will forge the gold to come, however Luke Holmes unleashes his clean vocals for the first time here and they are fantastic, pretty much the best moments by far. It feels a little uncohesive with the downtrodden glumness this breed of Nu Metal has baked into it and the arsenal of riffs, the booming slams or quirky melodies, fail to reach any particular summits. Its descent into this sound even has some classic DJ scratches cropping up in the final song, something I'm glad they didn't pursue in the same vein. An interesting record, really glad they were able to work out all the kinks reviving this old style.

Rating: 5/10

Monday, 20 April 2020

Myrkur "Folkesange" (2020)

Stripping out all Black Metal elements and purifying her Nordic folk inspiration, singer and multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun has forged a stunning, timely slice of naturalist music, devoid of an all to common "nostalgia". It feels present, spiritual and deeply rooted in tradition. This folk music conjures images of a simpler life, immersed in mother natures beautiful found among the fjords. It does so with a blissful clarity and heart that has each musical piece feeling as far from our modern world as could be. I've always been fond of folk elements but this has flawed me, It might be the most authentic experience Ive had in sometime, its a truly transformational experience.

A fine line is tread between simplicity and purpose as a masterful production captures Amalie's serine and soft voice and accompanying instruments in a gorgeous ambience of natural echo and reverberation. Its touch lets gentle and minimal melodies soak up their potential in atmosphere, resulting in a cold and pure indulgence for our imaginations. The array of obscure instruments, by modern standards, the nyckelharpa, lyre and mandala enrich this ancestral experience with a deep connection to traditions. A skeletal approach to percussion too carries this feeling forward with most songs receiving a measured muster of momentum from the power of one simple lone and deep drum striking with spacious intent.

The songs have varying retirements swaying from the dark to light and despite being rather different in these moods, all land a stark sense of connection. Her Nordic tounge is mesmerizing in its ambiguity, a beautiful voice with feeling felt beyond verbal comprehension. It makes the song House Carpenter perk up with English lyrics talking of Tennessee, a cover of a Joan Baez song. She brings a light to this unknown gem and the closing song Vinter, with its seasonal snowy piano too has an uncanny feeling of similarity. It is the most beautiful song on the whole project with its soft and gentle approach and stands aside from the folk narrative. Strangely it makes me think of the redemptive scene in Home Alone with the caretaker. Beautiful record, simply wonderful.

Favorite Tracks: Frager Som En Ros, Reiar, Gudernes Vilje, Vinter
Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Ocean Grove "Outsider" (2013)

Having been floored by The Rhapsody Tapes and more so Flip Phone Fantasy, I owed it to the Australian band to go back and investigate their Metalcore roots. Outsider is a short seventeen minute, six track affair of generic scene music with little to distinguish itself in the wake of the Architects take on this sound. A similar intensity takes hold with booming Djent tone guitars fraying up assaults of chunky guitar noise between hazardous throaty screams and a sprinkling of vulnerable clean vocals intended to expressive the emotive side where introspective melodies intervene.

The sound itself has never drew me in however I'll give credit to the band for making it an enjoyable listen. Their performance is capable with a few notable hiccups in its more complex arrangements. Production is solid and in one or two moments they show a little sensibility for groove that might just be early manifestations of their progression as a band into Nu Metal territory. At this point though they are firmly part of the trend and given I was never too keen on it, I don't really know to what extent you'd say this is original or not but at least it makes for a good listen!

Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Milk Teeth "Go Away" (2017)

My recent disappointment with the bands self titled album brought my eyes to Go Away, a four track EP I overlooked that plays counter part to Be Nice. It too is a step away from the glory of Sad Sack & Vile Child but this direction is one I can vibe with. Its a similar theme of reckless self indulged emotional reflect, lively and unhinged.

The tone is way better suited to a coarsing Pop Punk energy. These thrashy vibrant power chords resonate with a 90s Green Day loudness, a sound I am admittedly not all that familiar with. Their lyrics float of these crashes of thunderous energy with a punchy resonance. Lines like "I'm drinking just because its there" and "Maybe these choices will backfire on me" cruise through the choruses with a catchy knack.

Pumping basslines and slamming aggression from the drums give the whole thing a real kick in the right direction. Lilian and Nearby Catfight have fantastic build ups in the end with some creative lead guitar to see the songs out. A throw back to what they do best can be felt in the closing track, Big Sky, a slower, moody track with a big sense of atmosphere. These songs are driven and fun, there is little here not too like!

Favorite Tracks: Nearby Catfight, Big Sky
Rating: 5/10

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Grimes "Visions" (2016)

I've been fortunate, finding a pathway in that has worked. Art Angels was a sublime introduction to the imaginary world of Grimes. Understanding her playful voice, this record was immediately fun and spirited, however with that familiarity It may have not clicked so swiftly. With less of the structural evolution of her music to come, Visions plays more like a collection of musical experiments toying with aesthetics, both vocal and with an array of instruments. Its tone is typically dreamy, indulgent and the mood? Mildly ambiguous as its many shades occupy beautiful spaces open to the listeners interpretation. Its a joyous exercise in musical creativity crawling into many niches.

More commonly using her vocal chords as the atmospheric device, lavishing of excessive reverb and manipulations build the music up. Droning loops of electronic dance percussion hold up a tempo and framework for synths and melodies to chime in. The variety on display often ushers in this strange unease in disparity of tone between instruments. It really plays up an experimental vibe of a young musician toying with tones and embracing the chemistry that emerges. Oblivion is a keen example, its pianos, stabs and jolting, buzzing bass synth melody have a strange cohesion thats peaked by the arrival of bizarre synthetic choir voicing.

Its all lighthearted, a girl in her bedroom experimenting with sound and embracing the magic. What is most brilliant however, is her voice holding it all together like glue. She guides you to the genius with this embellished presence as it plays out. The most note able influence may be Synthpop and classic electro even reminiscent of Kraftwerk given the boldness of these synthesized melodies that are central throughout. Its been a pleasure that keeps giving. No particular highs or lows, it occupies the listening with a warmness devoid of flash or flair, a rather consistent and fun experience.

Favorite Tracks: Eight, Nightmusic
Rating: 8/10

Friday, 10 April 2020

Jazz Sabbath "Jazz Sabbath" (2020)

Surely its just a shenanigan? A slice of fantasy folk lore stirred up to play a practical joke on fans of the iconic, legendary, pioneers of Metal to come, Black Sabbath! The story goes that this Jazz outfit were ripped off by Tony Iommi as composer Milton Keanes, like the British city, was hospitalized. This put their album in jeopardy and the master tapes have supposedly been lost for over fifty years. Doing a little online research into the bands history yields next to no evidence of their existence other than suspicious self published images of them on non existent publications. It feels like a hoax, which also doesn't speak to the apparent genius that extends beyond the alleged theft as Black Sabbath were no hit wonders!

Now lets talk about the music, you'll hear the classic riffs presented stunningly on a sublime piano tone, sometimes as part of broader compositions too. There is also plenty of original material spliced between. It makes it hard to comment on a lot of whats happening as it feels akin to a covers album in spirit. Played through a beautiful musical piano as part of a Jazz trio, the classic riffs are somehow slick, smooth and very relaxing. The power and weight of that Iommi guitar tone and style almost seems counter intuitive to what you'll experience on these seven tracks.

The recording is elegant and smooth, almost too much so. I am no expert but the clarity and fidelity of these dusty old recordings seems a little to crisp and vibrant, It is gorgeous in tone but that makes it more so questionable These are great qualities, the record is indulgent, a calming musical odyssey, with sparks of Rock guitar, Saxophone and Organs chiming in on occasion too. It is notable though these original moments also don't feel very "sabbathy". I have always found Jazz some of the most difficult music to describe and even with an anchor point of Heavy Metal riffage these songs are transformed into something else with that easy going Jazz charm. If it is a stunt as I presume, this project could of been better served as a fun novelty, re-constructing music for an alternative framing.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Milk Teeth "Milk Teeth" (2020)

I was really excited for this record and by no fault of their own Ive found myself sorely disappointed. These English rockers had dazzled me in the past with Sad Sack and Vile Child. An energetic fusion of emotively charged Grunge attitude and punkish spirit graced this era brightly but that sparkle fades swiftly as the group take a renewed purist stride in the Grunge direction. Its a straight move into a slant of the genre that never really worked for me. This self titled album was unable to change that.

Relationship and personality woes dominate these themes with a continuously dreary tone of wallow that has conflict but no resolution in sight. Lightly distorted guitar tones switch between chords and hazy melodies that circle the drain on this unambiguous tone poised between uplift and self indulged misery. The music never shakes this slighted melancholy mood that drifts through its collection of short three minutes songs. Its a drone where little beyond simple song structures presents themselves.

It sounds harsh but Its simply my experience. They have traded in the explosive punch and wild energy I loved for a focused sound in the Proto-Emo vein of Grunge that never appealed to me. The lyrics feel endlessly sad without resolve. Because of this the music just fails to excite me in its unadventurous stance. No hate on the band of course, they are free to pursue whatever they like but this pivot has left me behind, this was really not what I was in the mood for, not the sound I gravitate too.

Rating: 3/10

Monday, 6 April 2020

Code Orange "Underneath" (2020)

Formally known as Code Orange Kids, the Pittsburgh outfit have gained notoriety with previous efforts I Am King and Forever. Their unique take on Hardcore and Metal fused with an apatite for disjointed infusions of noise elevates to a new plateau as classic and metallic Industrial inspirations integrate into the aesthetic pallet. Underneath is a typically Code Orange record with their approach to aggressive slams, beat downs and chugg riffs remaining firmly intact with that spice of jolted timing. It also embraces its new leaning fully with atmospheric songs that play into a grander sense theme that's dark and twisted.

Its two sides that play strongly of each other. The song writing feels matured as the "lighter" tracks carry melody and theme with weight to make ear worms and tunes you won't get out of your head in a hurry. The Easy Way is perhaps a shining example of this but its general temperament and definitely singing hail to 90s Nine Inch Nails. Between these thematic, less aggressive songs lay sonic assaults of stomping brutality dressed up in dystopian Industrial noise. Bleak synths, ambiguous voicings and slathers of mix manipulation rock the cradle as the common song structures and expectant riff formulas are toyed with to great effect!

At forty seven minutes, these fourteen tracks play well with a healthy variety and depth of approaches to the madness that will birth favorite moments for many a listener. For me its the manic outro of Last Ones Left, its palm mute slamming, slowly scathing into the putrid as the walls of sound collapse. Who I Am is another, an unsettled atmosphere is held together beautifully by Reba Meyers voice and the ghostly lead guitar lurking in the background. It too trades blows with the song deconstructing itself, with feisty production experiments in noise. The title track goes out on a bang, leaving much thirst for more. A total treat of a record, It still feels fresh and I expect it will grow on me with time.

Rating: 8/10
Favorite Tracks : Who I Am, The Easy Way, Last Ones Left, A Sliver, Underneath

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Childish Gambino "3.15.20" (2020)

Going for an ambiguous, minimal presentation of this latest collection of songs, the multi talented Danny Glover AKA Childish Gambino follows up Awaken, My Love with 3.15.10. Its title simply signifies its release date. The plain white album cover furthers the lack of definition, its songs labeled simply with numbers signifying their arrival time on the overall listen. Only two tracks receive a name, Algorythm and Time, the first signifying that Danny is in touch with the times and pondering the human changes of this technological, data driven world is currently finding its way through.

Continuing with his inspired revival of the 70s shades of R&B, Soul and Funk, this newest iteration looks for a little obnoxiousness in its compositions, a handful of opening tracks experimenting with bold, over pronounced instrumentation and sample manipulation that penetrate the musical forefront. Many of these songs leave little in subtlety, bringing bright viscous sounds forward with jolted percussive rhythms, sometimes hinging on a groove but often feeling a little of kilter and niche.

After a slow unrolling of lengthy tracks, 19.10 punches in with a snappy beat and retro synth baseline that feels a little too overstated and off key to croon. As its layers builds the chemistry feels crowded and its proceeding 32.22 perhaps highlights where the experimentation doesn't yield. Its desolate fusion of dirty base rumblings and auto tuned voices crescendo without charm as its purpose seems to converge on volume. Its a gaudy, novelty track thats quite frankly grinding as its discernible voicing relents.

A couple songs later and the closing phase of the record finds some cohesion, experimentation calms and the chemistry heard on his previous effect can be heard again. The singing especially hits a smooth note as Danny's voice is presented without these manipulations heard earlier. It saves the record somewhat but overall I get a sense that the avenues to be different in production and composition just don't come together. Parts of it are very forgettable but a few songs hold up well too.

Favorite Tracks: 42.26, 47.48
Rating: 5/10