Manchester based musician Sophie Galpin has had an interesting career these last few years, being involved with two local success stories PINS (drums) and Embers (violin). With that in mind, I was excited to discover this relatively unheard solo material from the multi-instrumentalist on soundcloud, which is devastatingly good.
Trouble is a masterclass in songwriting: beautifully structured with subtle orchestration and a voice that shines throughout.
Chicago’s Lillerne Tapes netlabel is increasingly becoming quite the source of sonic delights, ranging from explorative ambient works to psychedelic bedroom pop and everything one might imagine circumnavigating such headspaces. This example is no exception, as Jakarta’s Strange Mountain aka Marcel Thee provides us with five achingly magical pieces on the limited cassette release “Slow Midnight”.
The choice of the cassette format, while experiencing a curious little resurgence amongst a number of hipster electronic labels and improvised noise terrorists, here seems absolutely fitting, as Thee’s distinctively wobbly clouds of elongated synthesized classicism are themselves heavily reliant on tape manipulation. The rare joy of these creations is that rather than the techniques themselves being a means to an end, the dense layers of chords, squeaks, bubbles and hisses are emotionally involving, consciously personal and immersive; arrangements which exist to be enjoyed rather than endured or simply ‘experienced’.
I have tried searching for adequate comparisons, and found such a quest to be rather tiring and ultimately fruitless. The most obvious benchmarks for involving ambient music would be the likes of Eno, Stars Of The Lid, Loscil, but here Thee seems to transcend his forebearers. There are intricate fragments of sound which lead me to remenisce elements of Radiohead’s more interesting work – some of the transitional sections of Kid A or the more experimental of the OK Computer-era B-sides perhaps. Ultimately though, “Slow Midnight” is unique, and all the more extraordinary a work for it.
Out of all the new bands out there who share a love of the ‘dark’ aesthetic – and there are many – there are very few as fundamentally exciting and dynamic as Veladrome.
Swaying violently from contemplative and moody drone imaginings to grainy, visceral post-punk, the Manchester duo successfully straddle the delicate balance between endearingly lo-fi and scarily engaging. Slower, more elegiac passages such as “Seeger (Parts 1 and 2)” bear more than a passing resemblance to “Fuck The Curfew” EP-era Mogwai as if drained of all post-rock cliche before being endowed with searching, effected vocal. Meanwhile the post-apocalyptic C86 squall of latest track John Wayne could strike instant panic into the most fearless of souls.
Best of all, they achieve this with willfully minimal equipment, no samples. In spite of all the obvious limitations, their potential is simply frightening.
Veladrome play Dulcimer on June 13th with Holy Esque and Tear Talk.
To an uninitiated country bumpkin like myself, The Lunchtime Sardine Club might suggest the midday pursuits of a racketeering band of gentlemanly penguin spivs. Instead, this most excellent of monikers represents the solo work of the seemingly willfully undercover Oliver Newton, drummer with long-established expansive post rockers Yndi Halda.
Slightly unexpectedly then, “Rumours” is a summery if introspective slice of not-too-oblique electric storytelling, punctuated with a vocal whose inflections and harmonies lilt like a slightly more lo-fi Field Music; proper crafted songwriting with a deadpan delivery, drifting along sweetly in 6/8 time.
Apparently there is an release in the oven, “Icescapades” to follow in the the meteorologically incorrect month of August on the Sonic Anhedonic Recording Company – on proper black stuff too – hopefully this transpires not to be a red herring! Some dodgy fish-based punnage right there, over and out.