Tag Archives: shoegaze

Heinali and Matt Finney – Ain’t No Night

As Ain’t No Night’s release date is still TBA, this is the artwork for Candidate

I spent a while trying to put my finger on just exactly what it is this album reminds me of, steadfastly resisting the urge to use yet another correlation to the realm of films, but I can’t help it, really. I spent a good decade wanting to work in film, and as a consequence a significant portion of my twenties was spent watching them, devising and half-finishing scripts, and idolising Jim Henson (amongst many others, but, you know…the dude was awesome. He made a frog ride a bike, which was an exceedingly difficult thing to do).

Why am I even talking about Jim Henson? Pretty much because he created vastly intricate scenes that were gone in the blink of an eye. His visual craft was such that sometimes you only understood how damn impressive it was if you studied it carefully and properly, otherwise it was a deceptively simple, but pretty (or scary, as was often the case in The Dark Crystal) picture. And that’s relevant.

Those two paragraphs aside, believe it or not I intended to mention Hal Hartley, but I’m getting a bit off focus here.

I mentioned this duo at the end of last month, and this release – three weeks later I’m still impressed by it. The last album I reviewed (Conjoined), I liked – to be honest, I favour most things that subvert any pre-existing ideas I have about the way I think things should be (i.e. spoken word and music don’t belong together). Ain’t No Night, feels and sounds like a more assured and fully realised album, to the point where I completely neglected to be aware of that idea. The unison between words and music is almost seamless here, which is not at all to say that there aren’t two unique and distinctive voices at work.

Clearly, I’m not American, so I can’t claim to have any authority on what is (or what makes) an American story, but this is where the Hal Hartley reference comes in, who is American, and told (what I take to be) American stories. Matt Finney’s lyrics – and delivery – remind me of the underlying narrative in Hartley’s films, where the story, the actions and reactions are in plain view, but the viewpoint itself generally comes from the audience – rarely did the actors in a Hartley film imbue their performance with any overt clues as to what they were thinking or feeling; you have the scene and the words…and yourself.

I may be wrong, but I believe this is one of the greater achievements of art, if not its outright intention – that is, to hold a lens to a story or concept – a reality – that is simultaneously reflective, ultimately giving the audience (of any art) an opportunity to participate no matter how introspective or personal the story actually is. Matt Finney achieves this on Ain’t No Night, as exemplified quite well on the title track (a gritty, bluesy number that alternates between acoustic folk and heavier doom/’gaze), with lyrics that, in moments of otherwise silence, have the capacity (and/or tendency) to creep into somone’s consciousness; in a way that – even if no one’s ever said them to you – can make hearing them feel like some sort of vicarious deja vu (if that’s possible).

During the spoken word sections, Heinali’s music is generally subdued, in the same kind of way storm clouds gather and roll across the sky before they break – they’re quiet, but their presence and imminent storm is unmissable. The compositions on this album are a force to be reckoned with indeed, ranging from subtle to palpable.

The intracacies of the music again lie just beneath the more overt surface. The instrumental sections in the first track, In All Directions, are quite searing at first (like when a storm first breaks), but as the song progresses, the sudden and startling ferocity of it recedes and other layers are revealed. To me, it sounds like the musical translation of an irrational, emotional reaction, followed by a gradual calm as more information is brought to attention.

Which is what made me think of Jim Henson, by the way. One of my favourite scenes in The Dark Crystal lasts for about 3 seconds or so – a straightforward pan across a forest that acts as the lead-in to another (story-developing) scene. At a casual glance, it’s a nice scene showing some of the quirky flora and fauna that populates the world, but it’s an amazingly intricate scene if you pay just a little bit more attention to it. The more detail you unravel, the more you understand about the world Henson is trying to show – same thing here with Heinali’s music. It is aesthetically very easy on the “eye”, but you could give that eye a good workout if you had the inclination.

There’s definitely quite a bit going on, both lyrically and musically. It’s like very finely tuned chaos – neither overwhelming or confusing, which may or may not have to do with the relative succinctness of four tracks, but at 35 minutes I warrant it has more to do with careful use of light and shade.

Ain’t No Night‘s official release date is as yet unannounced, but is due late spring (I presume that’s US) on Paradigms Recordings.

In the meantime, you can further whet your appetite with Candidate, their take the Joy Division track.

S4E


April’s Swag – Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

April's Swag - bite-sized, but very tempting (and even a bit delicious)

Once again, there’s been so much going on this month that I’ve spared little time to dig up the best bits from the nether regions of the internet. Lucky for us both, I don’t have to look very far to find something worth bringing to your attention – to recap those I already have:

After that, I suggest sinking your teeth into these:

Heinali and Matt Finney – Plainsong
Shoegaze/Drone/Ambient | 15MB – 320 kbps MP3
You may have caught the recent Conjoined review over at [sic], if not, this duo blend heavy shoegaze-drone a la The Angelic Process/Nadja, with spoken word vocals. These guys have got quite a few things in store for this year, with another album set for release later this spring on Paradigms Recordings titled Ain’t No Night – keep your eyes and ears out for more info soon, as there’s some seriously good stuff going on with that. Currently available for free download on Bandcamp right now is their take on The Cure’s Plainsong and Radiohead’s Creep. To top it off, from May 1st, Dreamcatcher – a half-hour soundtrack over two movements (Lucifer 1 and Panopticon), which recently accompanied a photo exhibit – will go up as a ‘name your price’ download, with all funds raised going towards financing another album later this year; some very absorbing work all-round.

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Wild Dogs In Winter – Homba*
Post Rock/Ambient | 120MB – 320 kbps MP3s
Released last year but only just recently brought to my attention, this nicely done 10-track album has more than enough weight to grab – and keep – the attention of Blueneck, I Like Trains, Our Ceasing Voice and Her Name Is Calla fans. Available on Bandcamp as a digital download (or purchase the CD).

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Sleepy Sun – Marina
Psych/Stoner Rock | 14MB – 320 kbps MP3
If you know me, you know I can’t get enough of these guys and their particularly sparkling blend of hazy psych/stoner rock. To celebrate their upcoming US tour, Sleepy Sun have made a live version of the single Marina available for free download, which you can grab here.

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Other Lives – For 12
Folk/Rock | 6MB 192 kbps MP3
It was nice to see this new track go up on RCRD LBL the other day, as I’m quite fond of Other Lives’ self-titled debut. (Not so nice to see RCRD LBL decide to go the same direction as Daytrotter and disallow direct downloads without registering for a user account – they better not introduce a poorly functioning, site-specific “download manager”). Slightly more old-school psych-folk in this track, but very nice indeed – grab it here.

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NeTE – Greatest Non-Hits 1 LP
Industrial/Gothic/Lo-Fi – 73MB 128 kbps MP3s
Some of you may remember my Australian music special from a while back, and briefly mentioning I couldn’t recall any Australian goth bands I was into during the 90’s. Well, while I was trying to jog my memory, I happened upon a site called Shame File Music – a label dedicated to experimental Australian music. Long story slightly shorter, I grabbed this collection of tracks, and while I can’t say I heard them back then, I can say there’s some stuff here worthy of a listen now. Grab them from Internet Archive.

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S4E

*These are available as ‘name your price’ downloads. For Bandcamp releases, you are able to enter any amount, including $0. For Mamaleek’s Kurdaitcha, voluntary donations (via PayPal) to support the artists can be made through the Enemies List download page linked above. As always, though I know times are tough, I encourage sparing a few bucks where and when you can to support the artists making the music you enjoy.


Os Ovni – Something in the Sky

If you got into witch house this year, you’ll probably dig this nifty little blend of shoegaze, dream pop and psych, all wrapped up in a droney-witch house package by Texan duo Os Ovni.

Something in the Sky, recently released by Answering Machine Recordings, and apart from having a tripped out cover, was apparently recorded using only one instrument. Quite impressive when taking into consideration the different sounds and genres blended into the mix. The video is quite a nice trip, too.

You can grab one of 300 limited pink vinyl pressings via Answering Machine Recordings.

For more Os Ovni, check them out on Tumblr; or pay a visit to their SoundCloud page where you can listen to or download a couple of mixtapes.

 

S4E


Thorn1 – So Far As Fast

After learning a little of the history behind this album, it might not be surprising that it sounds a bit like an elegy – there is something of a funeral procession that moves steadily and subtly through each piece.

As Thorn1, musician Evegny Zhedya presented So Far As Fast as something of a farewell to his life in Russia before moving to Kiev, Ukraine. As a prelude to leaving,  saying goodbye to home and to friends, the album works exceptionally well to capture a bittersweet journey from one place to another.

The music presents a fairly turbulent range of emotions, yet more often than not it is subdued and sombre in effect. Through elongated, ethereal drones, blended with shades of post-rock, electronica and shoegaze, Evegny has created a dreamlike sense of separation and isolation; during which most pieces utilise either guitar, piano and accordian to elicit often searing melody, which both contrast and highlight the sense of loss.

Organiq Grostee, the opening track, is almost frightening, and probably would be had it been purely instrumental. It’s a little like the opening scene of a film, where an organ grinder is standing on the corner of an otherwise empty street –  one whose eerie presence has the capacity to inspire both  faint trepidation and a kind of comforting familiarity from the knowledge you’re not completely alone on that street.

Soon after, fourth track Safe Trip makes a rather definitive statement on the tone and perspective of the journey being related. It is a gorgous 8½ minutes of echoing guitar that rests on the cusp of the darkest moment before the dawn. As the sun rises, or in this case the rest of the album progresses, the light is cast on landscapes of various textures and temperatures.

This culminates in the final track, Welcome Home, a beautiful piano instrumental. It’s like listening to a heart simultaneously break and mend in slow motion – the triumph is tempered with tragedy, the hurt with healing, and the separation balanced with solace.

So Far As Fast is an eclectic mix, steeped in a similar sense of dreamy disorientation, the likes of which you feel when experiencing déjà vu – surreal and a little mysterious, but still…it is accompanied by the implicit knowledge that it belongs to you.

You can listen to Drone, the second track from the album, courtesy of Silber Records.

 

 

So Far As Fast is available now, as a digital only release via Silber. As with most of their downloads, it is offered for a considerably modest US$5.00.

 

S4E

 

 


The Band In Heaven – Free Demos

Shoe…gaaaaaaaaaaaaze

A while back I posted about Irish duo Low Sea, and if you dug that chances are highyou’ll find plenty to like in the 5-track demo by Florida’s the band in Heaven, who elsewhere have been likened to just about every staple shoegazer you can think of; for good enough reason, though… It’s not hard for bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain to spring to mind when you first take a listen – distant and dreamy female backing vocals, steady drive drenched in reverb, fuzz and distortion – on paper you might think it’s a recipe for heard it all before.

In practice, though, and garnished with some of psych, the songs offer plenty enough to stand on their own merit. Considering they’re 4 demos and one cover (CranberriesDreams), there’s definitely potential for these guys to become your new favourite dream-fuzz lo-fi noise-makers.

Check out Summer Bummer for proof, which would be my favourite track – there’s some neat psych-post-punk sounds layered in that one. Tagged as a ‘rough’ demo, but I like it pretty well fine as is.

All 5 tracks are currently on offer as a free download here.

S4E


Dopedrone – Contact Book

Released last year via net label ParaLucid, Contact Book is an experimental concept album that popped up on my radar a couple of months ago and caught my interest due to the “shoegaze, stoner rock, 70’s progressive rock and psychedelia” influences mentioned in the bio.

I’ve not yet taken the opportunity to hear any of the artist’s (M. Anderson, also of Norwegian post-rock/shoegaze band Yeti Island) earlier work, but Contact Book certainly contains elements of those influences, if but subtly. Primarily ambient instrumental, with some vocal sampling, the album is centred around alien themes. Maintaining that other-worldly focus throughout the album has resulted in a consistently spacey sensory experience well worth investigating.

The title track to Contact Book is a drawn out electro-industrial fusion with a bit of drone and definitely a highlight. Other faves include opening track Sun Flare, Old Galaxy and  Memory Loss, which manages to be soothing and ominous at the same time.


2 minute teaser for Contact Book

Highly recommended if the sound of a slowcore NIN having a slightly freaked-out and sometimes beautiful psychedelic alien baby with Massive Attack sounds like your cup of tea – it’s a pretty tasty cup. 😉

You can download Contact Book for free here.

S4E


Low Sea – Las Olas

When it comes to music purchases, there’s a few things I can’t resist and will inevitably cause me to spend my hard earned $$ with hardly a second thought…

  • Low and/or one-off production runs
  • Nifty packaging
  • Self-released CDs

Any one of them may pique my interest, combine all three and it’s virtually guranteed I’ll be suckered in.  Well, assuming the music is to my liking. Recent purchase Las Olas by Irish duo Low Sea gets bonus points for the artwork on their awesome debut, released a few months ago.

Las Olas by Low Sea

It might not be the most elaborate packaging around, but for my money (a very modest €9.95 which included P&H) it sure is nice and effective. 😉

But enough about the pretty, Low Sea create some great music, too.

Las Olas is a swirl of lo-fi shoegaze, new wave, post-punk, dream pop and electronica, with a bit of ethereal, fuzzy psychedelia added to the mix, and for the most part the combo is measured just right. Influences, or camparisons to, have included such artists as Mazzy Star, Jesus and Mary Chain and Spacemen 3, but I’d like to add in a smidge o’ The Cure and – every now and then – some old school Transvision Vamp.

Leading track for the album is Never Yours (which, if you’re so inclined, can be downloaded for free via Pitchfork), a track that builds slowly, steadily and distantly – a bit like you’re listening to the song underwater, with the sound gradually rising from the depths until it near smacks you in the face with the disdainful tone of the lyrics – it’s cooler than it sounds, trust me. Other notable highlights for me are Couldn’t Help Myself, Save My Soul and Sidewalk.

All in all, I think Low Sea have chosen a particularly appropriate name – I urge you to immerse yourself  into their slightly murky depths where you can drift happily on waves of etheral, dreamy noise, all the while bobbing your head to the consistent rhythm, and every now and then you’ll get rocked. 😉

Visit their online shop to buy that nifty, limited edition CD version.

Or buy the album in MP3 format from CD Baby. (Also available on iTunes).

S4E