What’s not to love about Manchester’s Hartheim? Their bold sonic assault blends fiery passion with a fine-tuned aesthetic. Their music videos are arresting and brave. There’s a primal quality to their tunes, the best of which have the ability to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
Welcome To Hartheim is brooding and convicted, a reverent force of nature occupying musical territory somewhere between Joy Division and early Puressence. Arpegiatted guitars chime, gritty vocals loop like a mantra. It’s tense and compelling – a joyride through some dark, exotic wonderland. Honed by Sways mainstay Martin Hurley, the steely production makes for an addictive listen. It forces you to want more – to play the track over and over until you’ve had your fix. The climatic ending is pure catharsis – an exhilarating experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Eleanor Friedberger (of The Fiery Furnaces) plays The Castle this Sunday evening… I’m pretty excited about this, as it’s an intimate venue for such a considerable talent. Supporting her is a new name to me… Tiger Lion, the solo project of French born, Manchester based Clémentine Blue, who I’ve apparently previously seen as bassist in Brighton’s Michael A Grammar.
Debut track Under Water is a well crafted piece of experimental pop, at times reminiscent of early tUnE-yArDs. Beautifully expressive with a lo-fi folk aesthetic, Under Water is accompanied by a video inspired by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which you can see below. Definitely one to keep an eye on…
It’s always a beautiful thing when an artist starts to realise his or her own potential, watching them slowly make the transition from a spark of an idea to fully formed musical wonder.
Manchester’s Evan Wilson has been making tiny steps these last few months with PLAYACTING; his ideas about song form and creation have always been built around a sense of playfulness, but with new track Dance Steps he’s made one giant leap, retaining the pure joy and innocence of his previous work but managing to turn it into something more substantial…. something more real.
One thing I think all of us at TRU LUV can agree on is the absurd idea that, in music writing terms, a track or release is deemed dead in the water within days – in just a couple of weeks it’s absolutely buried. Bonkers beyond belief. The way I look at it, if it’s new to me then it’s no doubt new to somebody else. So let’s just take a step back.
I was on the look out for fresh spins for the old platter, and something instantly pulled me towards Amir Abbey aka Secret Pyramid‘s LP ‘Movements Of Night’, originally released on Students Of Decay way back in the autumn of 2013. Certainly, I’m a bit of a sucker for grainy black and white photography, all the better if it’s black and white photography which also happens to be pointing towards a distant galaxy. A great shot.
And the contents, they didn’t disappoint. The easy old “ambient” tag doesn’t quite tell the whole story. In album opener A Descent, the gorgeous main chordal figure is slowly enveloped by advancing sustained drones, gradually opening and illuminating, drawing the listener into the blurry warmth of it’s core. It’s a track you can If you wish simply take on face value; after all these are beautiful, starry, tasteful sounds.
But then on the other hand, it’s so much more than background music. If you want it to be, it’s also immersive, meditative, expansive. And above all, highly addictive.
There are some artists for whom superlatives simply don’t work. Not that they are undeserving, far from it, but that those kinds of words fail to describe the real essence of their work, immersed as they are in the endless ping-pong tournament of one-upmanship, competitively striving for greater metaphorical heights.
Once every blue moon comes a MONEY, where if you let it, the art will force you to form a relationship with it so personal, that it becomes difficult to extrapolate from your soul. It speaks from within you, you gradually become as much a compulsive semi-conscious transmitter of it’s supposed message as you do a receiver. And so it was with The Shadow Of Heaven, falling to terra firma as it did almost a year ago; part debut album, part emotional interactive installation.
The video for the title track, it’s climatic penultima, extends us another parable upon the impassioned anthology of Jamie Lee and cohorts. It raises head and arms towards the sky, cryptically calling out the questions for which there are perhaps no answers, yet silently and crucially accepting of fate.
I got a little drunk the other night… the first time I’ve done so in a while. I’d bought some expensive vodka as a moving-in present to myself, forgot about it, and re-discovered it whilst listening to Visions, the new track by Mothica.
The musical project of New York based electronica artist McKenzie Ellis; it’s fair to say her reputation (and fanbase) have been growing rapidly ever since I first introduced her way back in January. To be honest, I would have happily written about any of the tracks she’s posted up since… but I didn’t want to come across as an obsessive. Stripped back with a minimalist production, her words seem more personal than ever before. Like most people I tend to get a bit emotional after a few drinks and Visions has really buried itself deep in my heart. It’s still there, calling to me softly before I fall asleep.
Every so often something drops which leaves your mouth wide open in astonishment, your concept of space and time in a state of erratic semi-permanent flux, the cup endlessly overflowing and drowning everything gravity will allow. Manchester’s very own Borland do this and just a bit more.
The first part of their proposed 120 minute quadrilogy, Omar bristles and seethes snake-like through a dizzying terrain of moods and textures; deep gothic electronics bathing hypnotically amongst acre-long reverb, minimalist piano figures tapping incessantly upon the soul, tortured vocals effected into a cryptic, stirring, abstract realm. In places it’s reminiscent of Brian Pyle’s Ensemble Economique output, inhabiting a similar kind of deconstructed and haunted sphere – only stranger, harder, more lucid, emphatic even.
As much as the deep subs drag proceedings violently towards the concrete, the unhinged emotions strangle and asphyxiate, there is still light amongst the shade; moments where, as if dusk meets night meets dawn, the horizon conspires to reveal the billions of miles of space left to discover. We’re only a quarter of the way in – a quarter – and we’re already verging on the conclusively seminal.
For every MONEY and PINS; bands that have been deservedly hyped and elevated from Manchester’s music scene.. there are hundreds more artists here still waiting to be discovered. I See Angels are the kind of band people need to start waking up to, having already self-released two albums of great promise in ‘I See Angels (2011) and ‘Your Memories Are You’ (2013). Both albums contain a handful of gems… Embryo, After The Rain, Accelerated Love… these are songs you could easily become obsessive about. It feels like they’ve been learning their craft organically… content to slowly seep into people’s consciousness, rather than bang on any doors. Atoms (Breakdown) is a lost Manchester classic… it’s that special, revealing more emotion within it than most artists could ever hope to find.
Taken from the forthcoming ‘Artificial Sunshine’ EP, Wide Open is their finest composition so far, beautifully woven dream-pop with Radiohead-esque ambitions. Paul Baird’s broken-hearted vocals holding the track together before it drifts away into the distance like it never existed.
Hailing from New York, Katelyn Fay’s electronic pop packs a strong DIY aesthetic – programmed beats and retro-flavoured synth riffs merge with hip-hop style vocal raps set on an experimental spin cycle. Brimming with pop culture references, a bit like a contemporary take on Ciccone Youth’s The Whitey Album, Katelyn’s music screams attitude, imagination and wit – it’s a delicious combination.
From the edgy ecstasy and haunting grind of Can’t Change Me to I’m Not A Toy’s sample-tinged feminism and Barbie Doll frustration, “If I’m a little fucking different – good, I’m better that way.” Katelyn’s music strikes a fine balance between personal expression and cultural relevance. From relatively amateurish beginnings, Katelyn’s creations have grown more focused, accessible and fun, with a healthy lack of self-consciousness – explosive Pop Art filtered through an obsessive teenage mind.
Just over a year ago, I promoted Glasgow’s Holy Esque to a packed Manchester audience… their performance was impassioned, raw and with just enough vulnerability contained in Pat Hyne’s vocal to bring you close to understanding why Holy Esque might just be the real deal. Afterwards my memory is a little scant but a few badly taken photo’s did at least give me some insight into the fun we had. Honestly, never drink with Glaswegians on tour… you WILL end up passed out.
Sovereign marks the beginning of an exciting new direction for Holy Esque, moving from a guitar led sound to a more electronic one. What is exciting is they’ve managed to retain the dark elements from their original material, adding a certain seductive quality within the dense textures. Hyne’s voice is again the focal point, his delivery a masterclass in holding your attention… leading you towards that climatic and devastating conclusion.