Lancaster’s Lake Komo appeared to me like a speck of sunlight breaking through the clouds. Although only in demo form, Ritual is a beautiful piece of work; folk music with an experimental edge. Vocally it starts off earthy and wounded before becoming something more synthetic.. a clear hint that they don’t want to be confined by the restrictions of organic instrumentation. Fans of Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver will find much to admire in their musicianship… rich and layered arrangements which carefully balance these alternative urges with pop sensibility. You get the feeling they could go ‘big’ if they really wanted to… the emotion is certainly there for them to work with; full of frustration and longing right up until it’s conclusion.
It’s always dangerous to fall in love so easily… but in this case I think it’s going to work out just fine.
Having performed live in various guises these past few years, multi-instrumentalist GHR Leeming seems to have been content to remain in the shadows. Perhaps Manchester wasn’t quite ready… but the musical landscape here is changing and the outsiders are starting to be heard.
As Wilderness Hymnal his sound is both immersive and apocalyptic. With elements of doom-laden post-rock and electronic experimentalism combining, stand-out track Phospher is teeming with tension and ambition. Galloping drums give it momentum within the clouds of drone; his baritone vocals holding the piece together, bellowing into a cold night sky.
Wilderness Hymnal plays Night & Day Cafe on August 27th
It’s not often I’m left lost for words.. but that’s exactly how I felt when I discovered Ess.J, the musical project of Sarah O’Mahony. Born and raised in a small fishing village in West Cork, Ireland; it’s clear from the the tone of her voice she’s searching for a simplicity and solemnity in her songs, an eerie dusty charm that is both understated and timeless, perhaps influenced by her heritage and surroundings. Hold On is a stunning piece of work considering it’s still in demo form, and one wonders how it will sound fully realised. You can almost hear the wind swirling around, breathing life into her words. Arrows is from the same place emotionally; held together by a melancholy piano backdrop that owes just as much to Thom Yorke as it does to traditional folk melodies. Due to be released in Autumn 2014, her self produced E.P Salt In My Veins promises to be a seriously beautiful introduction.
Gothenburg quartet School make upbeat and snappy dream-pop. There’s a welcomingly familiar quality about their tunes – a balanced combination of influence and inspiration. Despite having formed only recently, the sound they’ve developed is already well-honed and rich in texture. The musicianship stellar. The songwriting brimming with promise.
With its charging, frenetic drum patterns and Alice Botéus’s delicious, melodic vocals scaling the rafters, SoLong‘s infectious, bass-driven dream-pop hits the ground running. Guitars weave and chime, chipping away in harmony alongside a well-composed, robust Simon Raymonde-esque bass line. Clocking in at just under three minutes, the momentum of the track never dips. An engaging debut single that ought to turn heads.
The Tri Angle label (ran in Brooklyn by British expatriate Robin Carolan) has certainly established itself this past couple of years, having built up a formidable roster of talent that includes Holy Other, Forest Swords, The Haxan Cloak and Evian Christ. As an overall vision it works beautifully: a collection of dark atonal noises, atmospheric textures and songs that are habitually sampled, slowed down and transformed… each artist is distinct in their sound and ideas, but share a mutual love for electronic experimentation.
Having recently announced ‘Idle Hours’, the debut EP from Manchester’s 21 year producer Boothroyd, my ears were just about ready for another Tri Angle fix. Lead track NYC doesn’t disappoint, populated by discordant sonic clouds and pulsating strangulated beats, but always retaining a certain ambience and melody; Boothroyd has found his perfect home.
‘Idle Hours’ is out Sept 29th digitally and on limited edition 12″ which comes with a poster exclusively designed by David Rudnick.
David Thomas Broughton has always been an enigma – his first record ‘The Complete Guide To Insufficiency’(2005) was a complex creation, an intimate collection of material that certainly deserved it’s critical acclaim. The haunting sadness of ‘An Ever Rotating Sky’ will long stay in the memory, swirling in tension… Broughton’s hypnotic vocal resembling Antony Hegarty with a Yorkshire lilt; his delivery always captivating.
Now residing in Seoul, South Korea, his recorded output often seemed a little at odds with his live performances… which are confrontational and at times awkwardly weird. But look beyond this initially theatrical exterior, and you can start to relate his behaviour with the inwardly intense themes of his music. ‘In Service’ taken from the forthcoming album ‘Sliding The Same Way’(Song By Toad Records) is a self-conscious and introspective display of his own failings. Made in collaboration with The Juice Vocal Ensemble and recorded together in a few hours in David’s home town of Otley, this semi-improvised track is a marriage made in heaven, wrapped up in a devastating and reflective beauty.
I might be going a bit soft of late, or perhaps just seeking out a non-pharmaceutical antidote to the thrust and bluster of modern life, but I’ve found myself increasingly drawn towards more tranquilizing sounds; textural exploratory ambiences, drumless lullabies.
As part of my daily treatment, I’ve self-prescribed Katzgraben – a duo of João Tiago and Ricardo Peixoto who find themselves perpetually disconnected in a geographical sense, except for around twice a year when they join together to create stirring, evocative sounds. Combining electronics with a natural flair for swells of guitar feedback, on a superficial level at least Katzgraben appear to pitch somewhere between Stars Of The Lid, Hermoine Harvestman and the more sedative side of Growing. The first of these artists in particular naturally gravitate towards night-time listening, whereas S9 seems more suited to daylight hours – an odd synaesthetic quality, these elegiac soundscapes are brought to life against a visual backdrop gently cast shadows and the natural breezy sway of fauna.
It’s music to soothe, but more importantly music which can reinvigorate one’s sense of the here and now.
As I look back across my musical life, Vancouver’s The Organ became important to me around the time I first moved to Manchester and I started to engage with artists outside of the mainstream. Those initial experiences of flicking through the records in Piccadilly were the beginning of my love for discovery and I still cherish much of that period’s collection. The Organ released only one LP ‘Grab That Gun’, seemingly due to both label and touring pressure, but it’s fair to say their recorded output deeply ingrained itself on me. I heard from a friend a while back that after taking a break from music, guitarist Debora Cohen had started a new project and have been keeping an eye on things ever since…
Taking her name from the Lars Von Trier film Dancer In The Dark (probably one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen) Cohen is displaying all the magic that made The Organ so special. It’s certainly clear she was one of the creative forces behind their ability to write great pop melodies, along with singer Katie Sketch whose vocal ability was a driving force, but All I Ever Wanted is evidence enough that Cohen is more than capable of holding her own. At times the subtle and arresting arrangements remind me of Interpol, guiding us to a breathtakingly beautiful and melancholy conclusion.
Clarity is a rare and wonderful thing… when the fog parts from before your eyes to reveal an overwhelmingly clear vision. If like me, you’ve experienced depression, you’ll know just how difficult it can be to find it… every little negative thought compounds daily, making a light at the end of the tunnel seem so painfully out of reach. Music has always been a way of breaking that spell, certain voices and sounds together just seem to fill me with hope. I feel this way about Huh, the début song from QUALIATIK.
An experimental electronica project from Philadelphia’s Arielle Herman; it’s hard not to be excited.. her exquisite falsetto vocals seem to swirl around in melancholy before soaring away into another dimension, a rap chorus bursts the track into life, playful… restless, teeming with tension. As a demonstration of her ideas and ambition, Huh is a stunning statement of intent.
If the most certain part of life is death, then the second is that many will die too soon. Needlessly.
My father died feeding the birds
It could be any of us. It could be anywhere. It could be you, it could be me. This existence we so often treasure not nearly dearly enough – it’s so incredibly and inconsistently temporary.
My mother cries when the drones attack
Against all odds we’ve been granted the gift of consciousness, won the lottery of life. Human life is just too precious, jumps through far too many hoops simply to be allowed the right to exist, to allow it to be taken away by the maniacal genocide of ethnic cleansing.
My sister went up to the wall…
Tyranny holds so many forms; it could blow our brains out instantly or it could slowly and silently neuter the human spirit, covertly forcing us to relinquish our collective potential. Perhaps we just don’t realise that together we have the choice – the responsibility – of affecting the status quo. We could transcend this plastic fallacy of democracy in a heartbeat.
…she threw a rock and a bullet came back
In any case, the best questions are the ones whose power will never be outweighed by that of the answer; they stir and linger, they remain resonant long after the words have gone.