All posts tagged Bon Iver

Espher – Ultraviolet LP

When producer and visual artist Ben Pearson returned home to Manchester after a year living in Melbourne, fragments of ideas began to blossom into a fully realised project. Ultraviolet, the debut Espher LP, might have began life under a familiar industrial skyline, but it’s clear the world created is both expansive and beautifully imagined. Moments of highly personal introspection intertwine seamlessly with dream-like sequences which float into the unreal.

Album opener Zenith is an 8 minute introduction of cinematic proportions, slowly revealing the scale of Pearson’s ambition; a bold artistic statement that reaches far into the depths of a bleak universe, before pushing at the edges and breaking, exploding, scattering across the sky like dust. Bringing to my mind at least, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine… where humanity finds itself on the brink of oblivion. Themes of life and death, time and travel, technology and nature are intelligently woven throughout Ultraviolet in a lucid electronic tapestry.

Lunar Light Rays are shafts of light that shine through the gaps and cracks in crater walls to illuminate the moon surface. After the apocalypse must come hope. Pearson’s inventive production here is so playful and free – almost like dandelion seeds floating through the wind that you can’t help but be swept along. It’s this ability to marry the light with the dark that makes Espher such an intriguing proposition; everything is lovingly connected.

There’s a sense of looking back with regret on the spiritual Within. Pearson’s blank vocals and brooding melancholy are strangely comforting; ghosts of the past carrying you reassuringly into the next life. Taking influence from James Blake’s gospel-infused electronica, it’s the first moment where I truly felt like I was part of the Ultraviolet story, rather than watching from afar.

For someone as technically accomplished as Pearson undoubtedly is, and with so many individual and contrasting components at work, it’s a miracle he has managed to make Ultraviolet sound cohesive… but always full of surprises. Together is a heartbreaking collaboration with the mysterious Shy Heavens. Lyrically dealing with grief, loss and faith – this is a great pop song hidden in the bloodstream of Ultraviolet’s body.

The album’s true highlight is Mångata; a devastatingly personal reflection, mesmerising in it’s own simplicity. Pearson’s relationship with his piano is one that echoes the minimalist ideals of Nils Frahm and here it takes centre stage – giving emphasis to raw human emotion; loneliness, frustration and a voice that wishes to be heard. With tracks like this, it will be. Sometimes it’s the quietest moments that make the biggest noise.

There are great dancefloor anthems here too. The gloriously propulsive Orchid wouldn’t feel out of place on Jon Hopkin’s masterpiece ‘Immunity’, beats bouncing around like charged atoms waiting to collide with each other, whilst Sufi glows in glorious ambient swirls. Ultraviolet is a triumph in sonic exploration, and Pearson’s arrangements are able to move both your heart and feet; shifting the direction of travel effortlessly from vulnerability to self-belief, from pleasure to retreat.

A trilogy of songs build momentously towards a dizzying grand finale. Machina, a glitchy, androgynous masterpiece, with traces of Kid A era Radiohead – makes me imagine digital raindrops falling to the ground, panic setting in… almost like a dystopian nightmare and an awakening from a dream. Pelog urgently ushers in the end, the ticking of life’s clock and crystalline heartbeats hurrying you towards the brutal and beautiful Guardian … a song that confronts Pearson’s isolation head on, an emotional climax that pirouettes between fear and euphoria. Ultraviolet, although full of individual brilliance, was designed to be heard as a whole – musical chromosomes tied together to form a living, breathing organism.

Ultraviolet by Espher is available now on digital download and limited edition C54 tape
via Ramber Records http://www.ramberrecords.bigcartel.com/product/ram_010-espher-ultraviolet

https://www.facebook.com/Espher.music/

Phill Young

Lake Komo – Ritual

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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.

https://www.facebook.com/lakekomo

Phill Young

Field Division – Faultlines

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Evelyn Taylor Hiatt and Nicholas Frampton make up Nashville, Tennessee based folk-wave duo Field Division. Their blissful music runs high on soulful harmonies and rapturous textures, occupying the gulf between the likes of Feist, Bon Iver, Other Lives and Rumours era Fleetwood Mac. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, the vast natural landscape, valleys and rivers of their hometown exert a powerful influence over their sound, producing a grand and expansive effect.

Faultines is exquisite and elegantly arranged. A delicately woven tapestry of guitars, keys and tribal-esque beats carve out an off-kilter, upbeat groove, echoing the triumphant gallop of Ennio Morricone – this is prairie music of the highest order. Hiatt’s enchanting, bittersweet, hook-laden vocals float on a wave of reverb luring you in like a siren – you won’t be able to resist. A flawless opening statement from a band with far-reaching appeal.

http://fielddivision.bandcamp.com/

Paul Baird

First Person Plural – Mercy

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“I’m not a smart man, though I’ve convinced a few, to follow me through fire”

First Person Plural is the latest project from Mike Robinson (formerly of Annuals).
Debut EP Gold Wasp is an assured set of recordings worthy of your time, with introspective lyricism wrapped around a warm glow. Mercy in particular, is a song I find myself coming back to… Robinson’s vocals sharing the same oaken rasp with Bonnie Prince Billy, a rich melancholy contained within. The track is built around fine musicianship, with dusky country guitar and The National’esque chord progression and melodic flourishes.

Buy/Download ‘Gold Wasp’ here:

https://www.facebook.com/FirstPersonPluralNC

Phill Young