Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - January 2021


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, tominator, Abattoir, Netzach
Published: 14.02.2021


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - January 2021
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews



The place where we'll talk about music without growls or blast beats
unless they still have those but still aren't metal


We here at Metal Storm pride ourselves on our thousands of metal reviews and interviews and article; metal is our collective soul and passion, which is why we bother with this junk. That being said, we'd be lying if we stuck to our trve-kvlt guns and claimed that metal is the only thing we ever listen to. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do check out some other stuff from time to time; some of us are more poptimistic than others, but there's a whole world out there aside from Satan-worshiping black metal and dragon-slaying power metal. We do already feature some nonmetal artists on our website and have a few reviews to back them up, but we prefer to limit that aspect of the site to those artists who have been a strong influence on the metal scene or who are in some way connected to it. This article series is the place for those artists who don't matter to metal in the slightest but still warrant some conversation - after all, good music, is good music, and we all know metal isn't the only thing on this planet for any of us.

Down below, you might find some obscure Bandcamp bedroom projects or some Billboard-topping superstar; as long as it ain't metal and the album itself isn't a best-of compilation, it fits. Obviously, we're certain that not everything will be for everybody (you guys can be viciously territorial even when metal is the only thing on the menu, and we're all supposed to like the same things), but we do hope you find at least one thing that you can enjoy, instead of just pointing and screaming in horror "Not metal!" as if that would be an insult.

Here are our previous features:

December 2020
November 2020
October 2020

And now to the music...






Chaliced - City Of God
[Progressive Rock | Alternative Rock]


City Of God is the debut album from Swedish alternative/progressive rock band Chaliced (formerly Chalice), and it's a curious and highly enjoyable first offering from the group. The record sees the band exploring the space between the accessibility of alternative rock and the sophistication of progressive rock, making some really interesting compositional choices in the process. For example, "Passing Time" features a chorus that almost feels like a tavern song sing-along, yet signs off with a fancy keyboard solo ably supported by some weighty drumming. There's good range on City Of God, as a softer, atmospheric cut such as "Origin" slots seamlessly alongside heavier fare such as "Colossus"; there's also a range of languages here, as "Färger" nicely identifies the Swedish origin of the group.

My two favourite songs here are the opening track "Kings" and the title track, and one thing that joins the two is that whilst, in keeping with the rest of the record, they are song-based (i.e. there's a focus on verses/choruses), they also have quite extensive instrumental sections. The instrumental stretch on "Kings", which follows the satisfying up-tempo grooves of the first half of the song, involves some really nice gradual development that is driven first by the keyboards and later the guitar. A nice feature of City Of God is the consistent presence throughout of the keyboards; whilst obviously a familiar instrument in prog, it's not as widely used in alt rock, but instead of fading into the background outside of its occasional flourishes, it plays an important role in shaping the album's sound throughout. That album is crowned by the centrepiece that shares its name; "City Of God" features a lengthy, jamlike instrumental introduction, but one that really effectively comes into place bit by bit, offering a strong prelude to the moody, subdued song that follows. City Of God offers very promising signs of exciting things to come in the future from Chaliced.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Shame - Drunk Tank Pink
[Post-Punk | Art Punk]


We cover post-punk fairly often in this series, and it seems to still be a popular genre to be influenced by. We have quite a few albums in this genre in this issue alone, but out of all of those, Shame is the only band I had previously listened to, being quite a big fan of their 2018 album Songs Of Praise. At the same time, that was about the time I was starting to really get into the genre, so forgive some of the nostalgia googles. Needless to say I was afraid of the sophomore slump that has hit a lot of the bands in the genre, but one that, if successfully avoided, could put Shame among the other big names in this scene, like Idles, Protomartyr, or Fontaines D.C.. I'm pretty sure Drunk Tank Pink does that, even if I'm starting to have trouble differentiating between the bunch.

This album is pretty loud, thunderous and boastful, but it also takes a lot from the dance-punk sound, so it's definitely the type of punk music that needs to have you on your feet and music. Not necessarily the moshing type, but you do you. The guitar playing is still pretty angular and has that neat repetitive nature, but it's channeled in just the right rhythmic way to make you wanna move. Add the energetic, sarcastic and razor-sharp vocals, complete with a bunch of gang backing vocals to keep the energy up. Shame do infuse bits of surf rock, garage rock, indie rock and industrial to keep things interesting, but their strengths lie in keeping the momentum going and rarely letting you feel like there's a moment you can just sit down and catch your breath, like on the mellow "Human, For A Minute" or the constantly building "Station Wagon". Not sure if I like it more or less than Songs Of Praise, since I'm pretty biased towards that one. But if Shame can produce energetic and entertaining post-punk of similar quality in 40 minute capsules indefinitely, I'll be down for the ride.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Lice - Wasteland: What Ails Our People Is Clear
[Experimental Rock | Post-Punk]


Lice, not to be confused with our own Lice, is an up-an-coming experimental rock band from Bristol, UK, and this is their first album. Normally it would take quite a bit for a band to capture this much attention with their debut album, usually capturing it with some EPs first, but it doesn't seem like the two It All Worked Out Great EPs worked out that great in getting attention to Lice. But here we have Wasteland, and it seemed to turn the right heads. I could call Lice a post-punk band, since that is the element of their sound with the biggest territory, but compared to the other bands we covered previously or in this very issue, they're the ones most keen from diverging from the established formula.

Expanding on the punk blues of their two EPs, Wasteland go in a very experimental direction by adding a lot of brutal prog (think Ruins), post-hardcore, noise rock, no wave, and industrial to their sound so much so that the post-punk part, though having the biggest share of seats, it doesn't have the majority. The sound plays with these various avant-garde sounds in a way that tries and mostly succeeds to have each sound expand upon the others, so that it sounds less cacophonous and disjointed, and having the jarring aspect of it work for its benefit. It doesn't always work, but it feels really ambitious and genuine. The bouncy riffs, noisy plodding, clever use of repetition and electronics, psychedelic production, vocals that stand out for not appealing to the same manic drunken energy that a lot of recent bands use, despite being no less effective and satirical. There's plenty of time left for Lice to channel these sounds more properly, but for a debut, Wasteland is fantastic, and what ails their people is fairly clear.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Viagra Boys - Welfare Jazz
[Post-Punk | Art Punk]


Another post-punk band, one whose name I'm not sure I've heard of before (baffles me how I could potentially forget a name like "Viagra Boys"), but who I'm just getting into with this record. Though they share a lot of similarities with their contemporaries, Viagra Boys somehow manage to carve a niche for themselves by being rowdy, rebellious and sounding intoxicated in a very not chill way. Basically punk, but their sound still sounds like something that they managed to blend into a unique identity. And with Welfare Jazz, they're expanding the sound palette even further than their debut, Street Worms did, feeling like a more mature record, but, you know, as much as rowdy punk infused with blues and jazz can be mature while still making you feel like a perpetual hangover and a need to shower.

The band is really keen on injecting their sound with a lot of blues and jazz, mostly with some saxophones for the latter, but I'm not sure I completely appreciate the ways they try to integrate these into their sound. Though none of their song are what you'd call "complicated", it still feels like they're cramming things a bit too wildly. But then again, that's the appeal. Jarring electronics, the vocals of a man who just won't leave you alone at a party, bluesy riffs, loud saxophones, ballads out of nowhere, danceable rhythms, thick bass. It's a mess, but it's like that messy party that had a bit too much alcohol and some unspoken animosity between the guests. Probably "a party where you'd rather stay on the side and watch the action without getting involved" is the best metaphor I can come up with for Welfare Jazz. You don't really like what's going on, but you're still making excuses not to leave because you're curious what will happen next.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Here Lies Man - Ritual Divination
[Stoner Rock | Afrobeat]


Ritual Divination is the fourth full-length studio offering from the Californian stoner band Here Lies Man. A stoner rock record which effortlessly delivers on its promises of taking you on a journey. A journey that's smooth and relaxing, but also regularly offers some added grit when the guitars get extra room to breathe. Underneath that we get some subtle and tasteful drum and bass parts.

Ritual Divination's experimental and groovy music mixed with the multi-layered vocals give it a distinct sound. Songs feel like chapters from a book. It's noticeable when a new song starts, but everything feels like a logical continuation on the previous track. With that said, the length of this album is a bit on the long side. It's over one hour in length and as a result it can feel drawn out at times. A bit of careful pruning would have helped with keeping up the pace. In the end, Here Lies Man brings out a record that shows confidence. A solid record in which fans of the genre will find some really enjoyable moments.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by torminator





Radio Supernova - Takaisin
[Shoegaze | Dream Pop]


Takaisin must be one of the first few shoegaze records sung in Finnish, or at least that has an audience outside of Finland. It's not renowned as a hotbed for the genre, but Takaisin is an accomplished second album from Radio Supernova, and one that does far more than just copy what a thousand other shoegaze bands have done. Yes, there's a lot of gaze in their sound, but there's also quite a lot of post-punk, indie rock and dream pop to be found merged together into a blissful, upbeat and catchy end result. "Tammikuu" is an obvious descendent of post-punk, shooting past with those recognizable rhythms and shimmering strumming; "Väkivaltaa"'s verses also show an influence from that musical period, but otherwise feel closer to the 90s, particularly in the chorus with the instantly memorable lead guitar melody that accompanies lead singer Inkeri Riikonen's refrain.

Riikonen might be singing in an unfamiliar language, but that effortless, distant quality that some of the best singers in this genre have is present here, albeit with perhaps a greater sense of urgency due to the driving tempos of some of these songs. The whole album isn't so frenetic; "Vapaa" feels closer to what one might typically associate with shoegaze, in terms of tone, pace and instrumentation, and the same for "Nyt". However, the tracks that bring the various elements together are perhaps the more memorable cuts here. Running contrary to that is "Utopia", which rounds off proceedings in fine fashion; it's an instrumental-heavy track, but one that moves in unusual ways. For large part, it feels very slack and laidback, particularly thanks to the piano work; however, halfway through, whilst the song still feels languid, the guitar suddenly shifts gears into some quite exhilarating lead guitar work, from which point the track just gathers momentum, leading to a larger-than-life climax sonically. It serves as an emphatic conclusion to a delight of a record.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Pom Poko - Cheater
[Indie Rock | Noise Pop]


There's been a lot of noisy pop music in the past decade, but a lot of it has been of the hyperpop bubblegum variety, usually associated with the PC Music label. Norway's Pom Poko make something that is pretty hyper and bubblegummy as well, but in a more indie punk dance rock way, a blend of genres that is so jarringly fun and manic. With their name likely taken from the Studio Ghibli of the same name, in which a bunch of racoons are using their testicles to fight cops, Pom Poko are decidingly as fun but less depressing than the Takahata film. Add a bit more sugar. And a bit more noise.

Their post-everything sounds goes from shimmering to rowdy to playful to violent to dance-inducing. There's a lot of punk energy, but a lot of it isn't channeled into angry riffs, and even the post-punk elements feel more dance-like than simply angular, and those usually pretty well implemented. The distortion and noise seem so much at odds with the rest of the sugary fun, making it somewhat clunky, but when it's simply an amazing blend of styles. A lot of its strengths lie in Ragnhild Fangel's vocals, which are more sweet and ethereal than aggressive and energetic, and how all out the band goes in their contrasting extremes.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Urtidsdjur - Urtidsdjur
[Folk Rock | Psychedelic Rock]


This album was a cool find, even if I am too young to have any nostalgic feelings toward the music scene it pays tribute to. The 70's Swedish progg (as in Swedish "progressiv rock") is not to be confused with prog (as in English "progressive rock"), even though there is certainly some of that on here too. It was as much a political movement as a musical one. Heavily influenced by 60's American hippie culture and left-wing youth revolutionaries in the political sense, as a genre it could be described as a cocktail of equal parts 60's psychedelic rock, punky indie rock and Swedish folk music. The band simply calls the music "hippie rock".

Urtidsdjur (Primordial Animal) is this band's recently released self-titled debut album and is a bag of mixed goodies; upbeat indie rock in opener "Karta Och Kompass" (Map And Compass), progressive folk rock in "VandringssÃ¥ng" (Peregrination Song), and introspective, hazy psychedelia in closer "'Eḇen Ha-'ezer" (The Stone Of Help). All highly recommended songs as a snapshot of what Urtidsdjur are about, as well as what Swedish progg was about.

However - and I suppose it is both a pro and a con when an album gets overshadowed by one song - the second track "Väntar På Riktning" (Waiting For Direction) is, for me, the real keeper here. At 7 minutes, it is the album's longest track, but could well have been longer if you ask me. Honest and beautifully written lyrics about two confused lovers are accompanied by deft switches between minor and major keys that eventually, halfway into the song, give way to a quiet Floydian guitar solo soon erupting into a synth-led instrumental section liable to satisfy anybody with a taste for 70's prog rock (or just generally sublime music). Do yourselves a favour and check this song out, because it is some of the finest Swedish rock music I have found in a while.

Apple Music | Spotify

by Netzach





Swallowtail - The Bloom / The Blossom
[Post-Rock | Ambient]


Jack Wilson, England based all-around music composer, is the man behind the Swallowtail project. The most recent product of his, divulged as a double-album titled The Bloom / The Blossom, offers 75 minutes of quite experimental and unpredictable music offerings. As stated by the musician himself, this entails to be his greatest work to date. Divided in two parts within one music piece, songs 1-4 being presented as The Bloom and songs 5-10 as The Blossom, Jack Wilson operates with basic ambient and post-rock elements, crossing it with drone vibes and a fair dose of electronic components. All these being gently integrated into one sovereign yet very alienated and pleasingly sounding opus.

Tunes of the The Bloom part consists of lengthier compositions and might incorporate much more ambient and occasional drone details compared to the following one, The Blossom. The latter shows an upgrade regarding the intensity of the songs, having included quite some explosive parts and being less electronic-infused, especially towards the end. "Variety" and "experimentation" are certainly applicable descriptors for and the strong points of The Bloom / The Blossom. It tends to carry you into the moods of pensiveness and reverie, which is normally the outcome of how one should feel while listening to this type of music and its intertwining sub-genres.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by Abattoir





Johanna Hedva - Black Moon Lilith In Pisces In The 4th House
[Singer/Songwriter | Drone]


Singer/songwriter and drone aren't usually the two genres I'd think of putting together. Sure, solo artists have made drone albums before, but somehow it didn't feel as "singer/songwriter"-ish. And maybe me cataloging it as such is a bit disingenuous. But here we have a singer/guitarist Johanna Hedva channeling her grief through voice and guitars, and the guitar is droning, so make your own conclusions. Normally I'd find the live vocals + guitars working better with acoustic guitars (there's some moments of them on the record though), and combining it with live fuzzy droning guitars is a real challenge as far as keeping things dynamic and interesting goes. And here is where Johanna Hedva channels "Keiji Haino, Diamanda Galás, and Jeff Buckley" according to her, but there's some Boris and Jarboe and Anna Von Hausswolff in there as well.

But I wouldn't be making this album justice if I didn't mention its roots in Korean shamanism (so... uh... some Jambinai could be namedropped too maybe), and it is also a tribute to the artist's late mother. Due to the minimalist and live nature of this album, I'd say it's quite incredible how well it keeps the momentum going, partly because the production and layering is superb in making the vocals sound ethereal and the guitars full. The otherworldly sound fits the dirge-like spiritual theme, and it feels the album with grief, longing, despair, acceptance, but an ominous and lethargic vibe persists. You can feel how this album started out as a live-performance, one in which the artist told the audience "Tonight we're gonna try to invite my mother's ghost into this room, and you'll feel it when she arrives". I'm not sure you can invite it through spinning it on Bandcamp, but do so at your own expense.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Pearl Charles - Magic Mirror
[Soft Rock | Country Rock]


I, too, like Stevie Nicks. And California. And the 70s.

Magic Mirror does indeed sound like a pretty convincing magic mirror towards 70s California, with its mix of folk, country, pop, rock and even the cover art does everything it can to convince you that this isn't a product of the 2020s. I'm actually quite impressed how much it manages to go all in in capturing the right aesthetic, production, sound, pretty much everything. This isn't just emulation or pastiche. This is a carbon copy.

Make of that what you wish. I can dunk on its lack of originality, but I can't dunk on how well-crafted and convincing it is. It's probably far from the best of the era, and lacks the spark of memorability that could make me want to listen to this instead of exploring the original sound. But it captures that hazy, cozy, "countrypolitan" feeling quite perfectly. And there were one or two moments I could call surprising, from the touches of Abba to how "Sweet Sunshine Wine" does those swift changes of instrumentation. I wouldn't mind hearing this while dining in a fancy restaurant.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams
[Bedroom Pop | Neo-Soul]


If it doesn't take more than a few tracks for a Twin Peaks reference to come by, you're probably up for something good. If you're into bedroom pop, that is, though this one feels pretty lush and diverse for a "bedroom" album, as intimate as it still feels. Collapsed In Sunbeams is the debut album from British singer Arlo Parks, so I don't have much background info to give you. You're gonna have to go by what you hear here. And Collapsed In Sunbeams is 40 minutes of music that is purposefully not very flashy, but pleasant, relaxed, and dipping its toes into a lot of different sounds from soul to dream pop to folk. The overall vibe is still a very intimate and cozy one, so even if the instrumentation isn't very "bedroom"-like, it feels like music to listen in the bedroom rather than made in the bedroom. Make of this what you want.

The instrumentals are pretty straight-forward but move easily between mild soul / jazz grooves, trip-hop beats, folkier moments. The vocals also follow this pattern of not being flashy, instead opting for a mellow relaxed delivery. Arlo's voice is definitely pretty soothing and can border on ethereal at times, but I guess that the criticism I can raise for it works for the rest of the album as well. Which is that it's a tad too inoffensive and unambitious. It's colorful enough and pretty good at what it does for it not to be that big of an issue, it's not like Collapsed In Sunbeams is painfully generic, but it fails to be more than pleasantly unexciting. I really wouldn't mind listening to this a lot, but I wouldn't miss never listening to this again. And though I feel the same way about a lot of music, most of it never makes me actively think about the fact.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Fievel Is Glauque - God's Trashmen Sent To Right The Mess
[Progressive Pop | Jazz Pop]


Fievel Is Glauque is a Belgian duo and God's Trashmen Sent To Right The Mess is their first and only release. I wouldn't call it a full-length studio album, despite being 30 minutes in runtime, because honestly this sounds mostly like a demo. In performance, songwriting, structuring, and production quality, it's all demo-quality. I probably wouldn't have bothered with it if it didn't gain this much traction on Rate Your Music, which made me force myself to give it an extra try. So how'd it go?

God's Trashmen is full of lo-fi 1-2 minutes long songs, with only the closer breaking that length with a whooping 4 minutes. To say that this album moves fast and jumps from idea to idea is an understatement. The duo is composed of an instrumentalist and a vocalist, so that explains some things about the rough quality of the cuts, but the English/French lyrics give it a bit of an old chanson vibe, with its jazz and bossa nova sounds, sometimes moving in a bit of a progressive direction reminding me of fellow Belgians Aksak Maboul, but in a more modern yet even more lo-fi form. Complete with some backstage banter, rough flow, unequal mixing, sometimes it sounds like a band rehearsing next door. And I guess there's some strange appeal to it, the more you assume that its imperfections are intentional.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Azmari - Samā'ī
[Ethio-Jazz | Afrobeat]


I don't wanna spend this review talking about cultural appropriation, since it's not like a culture has a monopoly on the sounds it creates, but it's a bit awkward every time I find a new Ethio-Jazz record only to find out that it's made by Belgians instead of Ethiopians. Then again, I am partly to blame, because I can't say I'm actively looking for the real thing, but also because I still end up covering it. In their defense, Azmari (name taken from the Ethiopian equivalent of a bard) do seem very passionate about what they do, clearly having respect for the music they're emulating and studying it pretty thoroughly instead of making a cheap imitation of it.

On my first listen through Samā'ī I was still under the impression that I was listening to authentic jazz, so for that impression to break only upon opening the Bandcamp page and being greeted by this profile picture, is pretty high praise for Azmari. Granted, their influences go a bit beyond just Ethio-Jazz, with a diverse range of African and Middle Eastern sounds thrown in the mix, especially of a Turkish variety, with dub, funk and folk complementing the jazz sound. The album is purely instrumental, but manages to achieve such a spiritual flair, ending up sounding both fun and hypnotic at the same time, never feeling too serious for its own sake, but also taking the music very seriously. I guess it's time to stop complaining and actually listen to Mulatu Astatke, who the band name as one of the main influences of the record.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Patricia Brennan - Maquishti
[Free Improvisation | Free Jazz]


This isn't as "free" improvisational as the genre tags would lead you to believe, so don't expect anything too off-the-wall here, but rather something that has been composed based on improvisations, kind of merging the two approaches. This being a solo record, you'd usually expect jazz musicians playing wind or string instruments to do so, but Patricia Brennan is a percussionist. Particularly she plays vibraphones and marimbas, and she has played these on a bunch of other jazz albums I'm not familiar with. Maquishti is her debut solo record, and when I say "solo" I mean it. Obviously there is some help in the mixing/mastering department, but every performance and composition is hers alone.

And I have reviewed solo instrument albums before, but there's always a sense that I'm missing the context. Since this is the only album of its type I ever listened to, do I find it good because it's good, or do I find it good because I have no idea how much more can be done with this sound? But as it is, I find Maquishti to be pretty fascinating in its minimalism, peaceful tones, and exploration of the space between sounds, thus an album where silence plays a pretty large role, with the limited sound palette eventually taking a toll due to the nearly hour-long runtime of the album, but Patricia Brennan proves herself as a composer and performer.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Madlib - Sound Ancestors
[Instrumental Hip Hop | Spiritual Jazz]


I'll be honest, I haven't listened to much from Madlib outside of his collaborations. I obviously did listen to the hip-hop stuff he released under the Quasimoto alias, as well as the Shades Of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note debut, but other than that, none of his Beat Konducta or Madlib Medicine Show series, so I may have a narrower idea of the man's abilities. But even so, Madlib's production has achieved quite a legendary status, especially after the collab projects with MF DOOM and Freddie Gibbs. So this record comes as a sort of collaboration too, but instead of Madlib producing and someone rapping, or a production collab like Jaylib, this record is "arranged" by Four Tet's Kieran Hebden. Basically Madlib sent Kieran a bunch of loops, tracks and experiments, and Kieran made them into a cohesive album.

And Sound Ancestors is somewhat cohesive, but it's also extremely diverse in sounds. Calling it instrumental hip-hop is a bit disingenuous, since there's a fair number of tracks here where I couldn't imagine someone rapping over them. But then again, most of these could work as hip-hop tracks, even if they work just as well instrumentally, purely on the power of how the samples were manipulated. A lot of it is obviously soul and funk influenced, with just the right chopped sound to them, but a bigger part of its palette seems to go into a spiritual jazz direction, with a lot of its tracks feeling very lightly meddled with, and if the cover-art didn't make this clear, there's often a cosmic feel to the entire thing, though "spiritual" and "tribal" might still be the better descriptors. The Four Tet presence is pretty obvious, with the overall sound being less "dirty" than I remember Madlib feeling.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





R.A.P. Ferreira - Bob's Son:
R​.​A​.​P. Ferreira In The Garden Level Cafe Of The Scallops Hotel

[Abstract Hip Hop | Jazz Rap]


R.A.P. Ferreira is the new alias of Rory Allen Philip Ferreira (so I guess not really as much of an alias), who has previously released music under the aliases Milo and Scallops Hotel. His hip-hop was never too conventional, but his more abstract and loose stuff has appeared under the Scallops Hotel name, so this album's title signifies that some of that ethos returns for this R.A.P. Ferreira name, the second under this name, following last year's Purple Moonlight Pages, an album I sadly didn't manage to cover when it came out. But at the same time, I'm was never that deep into Ferreira's stuff and I feel I still need some time to get into it, even though I do appreciate it.

Bob's Son does go pretty deep into abstract territories, and even if this is far from the first time of this being the case in Ferreira's work, the lo-fi jazz poetry feel of this makes it a very odd affair. The delivery is very laid-back, sometimes the flow being closer to spoken word, but with enough diversity in the flow that doesn't betray the hip-hop side, and honestly those parts are my favorite. Due to its experimental side, I feel that there's a lot of hit and miss in most of the album's material, but regardless the off-kilter instrumentation and fascinating lyrical skill often taking cues from beat poetry, complete with a reading of the "Abomunist Manifesto", which kinda makes me feel like I need a bit more context from the poetry field to properly get this album. As interesting as I find this album, I was more mesmerized by the preceding album and a few others in his discog.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Fax Gang - Aethernet
[Electropop | Cloud Rap]


Aethernet is the full-length debut of multinational act Fax Gang, who developed some hype with the release of their debut EP FxG3000, and, well, it's certainly something. I've heard the term 'hyperpop' come up a few times recently in online discussions, and whilst I don't know whether Fax Gang count as hyperpop, but the sound on Aethernet is what I would envisage based on the genre name and descriptions I've read. The sound here is full-on right from the off; "Anything To Gain/Nothing To Lose" opens the album with manic retro videogame-inspired electronics bouncing around at full speed whilst a mixture of autotuned and rapped vocals shoot away beneath, buried so deep in the mix that they're a challenge to decipher at times. The sound here feels incredibly geared towards immediate gratification, with the frantic electronic melodies generating a sense of euphoria that the semi-audible vocals feed into with their forceful delivery.

The music on Aethernet is mostly a mesh of this boisterous videogame-style electronica and cloud rap, all run through a weird muffled filter that makes everything feel somewhat obscured and muted. The energy here, in spite of this barrier, is maxed out, with some full-pelt verses with the underlying beats shooting along at blistering speeds. The heavily autotuned vocals further feed into the artificial overload; I feel like 'excessive' could be used in many ways to refer to Aethernet. The sound of the first couple of tracks here intrigued me on first listening, which inspired me to claim it for this month's article; to be honest, I mildly hate everything that is going on here. A record I've also covered this month, Cacola's A Gift To Us All, is similarly hyper and influenced by videogame sounds, but I find it far more enjoyable than Aethernet. However, given that hyperpop seems to be the latest upwards trend in music, there's clearly a market for this kind of sound, and for those on board the hype train, I imagine that Aethernet will be right up your street.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





B L A C K I E - Face The Darkness II
[Industrial Hip Hop | Hardcore Hip Hop]


B L A C K I E (all caps, with spaces), is the alias of Houston, Texas rapper Michael LaCour, and it seems that his Bandcamp has changed in order to reflect his real name instead of his alias. Regardless, B L A C K I E is one of the earliest progenitors of this brand of industrial hip-hop, being a sort of bridge between dälek and Death Grips/clipping., with the earliest release, the B L A C K I E EP coming out in 2005. More releases would soon follow, cementing this hardcore industrial hip-hop sound, but none of them are what you'd call successful in the same way that the peers of this sound would find. So much so that when the first Face The Darkness came out last year, I wasn't even aware of it.

So kinda making up for that here we have the follow-up to that album, a Face The Darkness II. A bit of a forewarning though, B L A C K I E's brand of hardcore/industrial hip-hop, especially on these two releases, is heavier on the hardcore/industrial than on the hip-hop. Very few of the vocals are actually rapped rather than just screamed, but with just enough of a flow to still have its roots in hip-hop. The instrumentation, all of it performed by Michael himself, is industrial more in the Godflesh vein than anything else, but the drumming seems to be live some of the time and programmed in others. Another aspect of Face The Darkness II that I like even more than its predecessor is the heavy (literally and figuratively) use of saxophones. Face The Darkness II is heavy and angry all of the fucking time, which does take away a bit from how effective the entire package is.

Bandcamp

by RaduP





Linus Hillborg - Magelungsverket
[Electroacoustic | Drone]


On my hypothetical list of capital cities where I would rather not end up wandering lost and alone in by night, the one located two hours north of here sits safely in the lowest percentile. The creepiest thing I have ever experienced on the streets of Stockholm is getting solicited by a hooker twice my age, to which I politely declined and went back to my hotel. On Magelungsverket (The Lake Magelungen Opus), Linus Hillborg paints aural pictures of a quite different city; one that could have been had the threads of history weaved another future, and - should one dig deep enough - one that probably even now hides away in the darkest, seediest corners... Magelungsverket's virtual, semi-fictional Stockholm is rooted in an interactive art installation of Linus Hillborg's, wherein attendees were taken for a midnight drive cruise on abandoned streets - uncannily familiar in their layout yet ineffably displaced - bordered by the twisted metal of the dilapidated buildings still standing in this cyberpunk post-apocalyptical Venice of the North.

One single epithet will have to sum up Linus Hillborg's lush, pseudo-orchestral smorgasbord - of the elegiacal metallic screeching in "Högdalen Incorporated City" (High Valley), the melancholic Swedish folk tunes shredded beyond resemblance in "Pendeln" (The Commute) and the unsettling paranoiac buzz of synth drones in "Arkivet för det oförklarade" (The Archive For The Unexplained) - sparsely punctuated by the title track's bone-chilling wet blasts reverberating from the heart of Sergel Square. There, a writhing mass of leprous doppelgängers to contemporary Stockholm's sex workers and heroin addicts serrate their bodies on razorblades and barbed wires surrounding a massive drum - drenched in the blood and brains from crushed skulls of those no longer prisoners - on a quest to crack their featureless faces open with a lethal thump of city-wide reach. Their final deeds: yet one more ear-splitting call to war heard by those still shackled by this Stockholm's syndrome.

Right, that epithet: Magelungsverket is... Lynchian.

Bandcamp

by Netzach





Steve Roach - Into The Majestic
[Ambient | Progressive Electronic]


No more than two months ago, I pondered what kind of excitement appreciators of Steve Roach had each time he released a new recording. If it's anything like the anticipation I feel whenever the likes of Sylosis or Cult Of Luna put out something new, they must live semi-permanently on cloud nine, because Tomorrow has been swiftly followed by Into The Majestic, a whopping 75-minute odyssey of ambient electronic divided into two tracks. Of these, the title track is twice as long as "The Spiral Heart", running just shy of 50 minutes; it's a colossal undertaking to listen to, and one that is not dissimilar to the psychedelic artwork that adorns the album's cover. Just as said cover seems to subtly shift as you gaze into the static image, careful listening is required to detect the gradual progression of "Into The Majestic" from disjointed celestial sound into something more structured around the 10-minute mark, the bouncy electronics that defined Tomorrow for me agonizingly creeping into the mix minute by minute, decibel by decibel.

From there, "Into The Majestic" works as something of a musical time lapse, a description I've used regularly to describe Nadja's Sv, a record I'm very fond of. Like that one, the elements that gradually enter and exit the fray do so at such a restrained pace that it can take some time to notice that there's something new happening, and the territory that is covered during the course of the composition is only highlighted by skipping forwards or backwards for several minutes. Even looking from that perspective, the changes aren't huge, but the eventual inclusion of more percussive low-end pulses midway through, louder repeating musical lines and subtle melodies do enable the track to serve as a journey rather than a time loop. "The Spiral Heart" is the brief denouement of the album; at only 25 minutes, the very quiet, stripped-down and subdued nature of this track offers strong contrast to what preceded it. To be honest, given how empty the composition is, it doesn't really justify its length in the way "Into The Majestic" is somewhat able to; even thought music such as this is presumably intended to serve as background listening first and foremost, it would've been nice if "The Spiral Heart" did offer a bit more dynamic variation.

Bandcamp

by musclassia





The Bread Scientists - Amidst Radiances
[IDM | Glitch Hop]


I struggled to find much information on Australian electronic act The Bread Scientists, but one thing I can tell from their Bandcamp alone is that they are prolific to a level that rivals Steve Roach. The oldest entry on their page is from September 2019; since then, they have uploaded 21 separate entries, comprising a mix of singles and EPs. Amidst Radiances isn't even their most recent release, despite dropping on New Year's Day 2021, as the EP Blurry/Binary has already followed it into the world and album/compilation Troposphere will have joined it before February is over. The person behind The Bread Scientists is clearly very inspired creatively and eager to put all this music out into the world; however, the scattered approach to releasing music does suggest at a possible lack of focus, which arguably comes through in the music on Amidst Radiances.

Containing 4 songs and clocking in at around 30 minutes, Amidst Radiances isn't a huge release, but it covers a lot of different electronic musical ideas during its runtime. In opening track "Akashic", you get glitchy, noisy soundscapes, moody synthwave, lo-fi hip-hop vibes, drum n' bass, and additional styles that I don't know how to describe. This song is just over 7 minutes; subsequent track "Aphelion", a minute longer, starts with muted lo-fi before going into some more brash synths that linger somewhere between synthwave vibes and dance music, whilst again bursts of harsher noisy music and up-tempo drum n' bass feature later on. These ideas by themselves are executed relatively well; however, they don't get much time to develop before moving onto the next one, and each one is typically separated from the next by some quiet ambient downtime, making the songs feel like collages rather than cohesive songs. There's clearly talent and creativity here, and generally I mildly enjoyed Amidst Radiances, but future releases would benefit from a more structured writing approach, and perhaps focusing more on certain areas rather than trying to including everything possible into each track.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Bicep - Isles
[Future Garage | UK Bass]


I can't claim to be an expert on electronic music, even if I have gotten increasingly into it over the past 5 or so years, but when I hear Isles, I can understand why it might fall under a genre tag called "UK Bass", even if I don't actually know what that means. There's just something about the beats, warbling electronic lines, distant female vocals and subdued vibes of opening track "Atlas" that sounds very British to me. It's a really nice introduction to the album, and sounds like something I would love to hear during a more mellow period of a rave. Bicep are a Belfast-born, London-based DJ duo, unleashing their second album onto the world at a time when raves are on hold. The record has taken on influences of sounds encountered during their time in London, although the Bulgarian, Turkish and Hindi inspirations mentioned on their Bandcamp may not be immediately obvious.

The muted vibes of Isles are noted by Bicep, who claim harder versions of the same material will greet attendees of any events they perform at once live music is hopefully a thing again in the UK. "Cazenove" has up-tempo beats, but the bouncy electronics are very dainty, whilst "Lido" eschews beats altogether, serving more as an interlude with its repeating keyboard motif and ambient sounds. This track heralds the arrival of what I consider to be the strongest stretch on the record; guest vocalists Clara La San and Julia Kent make nice contributions to the twisted yet brash "X" and the cyclical "Rever". These two, along with "Sundial", feature some of the most memorable melodic motifs and gripping rhythms on the record, and ensure that Isles ends with some strong momentum.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Cacola - A Gift To Us All
[Breakbeat | Drum And Bass]


Of all the albums Radu has provided as options to cover for this article series over the last nearly two years, A Gift To Us All is one that I found it most difficult to find any background on. There were no 'official' reviews from any websites, big or small, to offer me anything to go on, and my searches ultimately took me to Cacola's account on Newgrounds, which if nothing else provided me with some major nostalgia about that site and watching silly videos such as Potter Puppet Pals there. This is definitely an underground release, then, but it's an enjoyably professional-sounding one; the combination of drum and bass beats with retro video game-inspired keyboards and blissfully upbeat uptempo melodies is one that produces the musical equivalent of a sugar rush, but whilst it does have a tendency to become exhausting and overwhelming, it never becomes boring.

As mentioned before, classic video game sound effects and soundtracks are a clear inspiration for a large portion of the electronic musical palette on A Gift To Us All; so is anime music, but there are also brash dancefloor synths and other musical choices that owe more to nightclub electronica than the nerdier side of the internet. This also comes into play with the percussive side of the album, which is first and foremost inspired by drum and bass music, albeit with certain deviations from the norm. These core components are present for much of the album, but there are variations to avoid overload; the record's centrepiece "Flowers & Snakes" is very laidback and easy-going, even when those breakbeats coming into play, serving as nice contrast to the brashness of the likes of "The Perfect Shape" and "Unused Assets". Probably the one major wildcard on A Gift To Us All comes near the end of "How To Take Complete Control Of Everything And Everyone", when it casually slips into Muse's "Hysteria". How well this song goes with the surrounding sounds that accompany it is up for debate, but I will admit it caught my attention on each playthrough. Overall, A Gift To Us All isn't going to be something I'll necessarily revisit, but I found it a pleasant surprise in terms of how well made it was given the complete lack of exposure it seems to have received.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia




We have also received the following user submission:



Emptiness - Vide


This former Belgium metal band returns whit darkwave, minimalistic sounding album. This is just sound, whit weird spoken words to me, and song tittles in french? It did worked in Elend case, why not here? Well it don't, Elend has metal spirit here, maybe first neo folk band what metalheads did enjoy before that genre became a cliche to us. I remember their old albums, what was metal, heavy sound. This is music for avantgarde lovers, you need buy real album, get some Chimay and enjoy it inside in your place. This never will be commercial success, club music, if Pablo Picasso would be alive, we would hear it in his painting exhibition parties. This music is for few people and even more band them selves, since they wrote it. Experiments is good, even this is not to me.

by Bad English




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month.



 


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 79 users
14.02.2021 - 18:53
Darkside Momo
Retired
Quote:
We have also received the following user submission:

Bad English really has invaded all of MS
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My Author's Blog (in French)


"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you"

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I am awake"
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14.02.2021 - 19:05
JoHn DoE
Written by Darkside Momo on 14.02.2021 at 18:53

Quote:
We have also received the following user submission:

Bad English really has invaded all of MS


I don't mean to be rude, but why do you encourage him?

good work again, some interesting things here.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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14.02.2021 - 21:00
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by JoHn DoE on 14.02.2021 at 19:05

I don't mean to be rude, but why do you encourage him?

I don't know. I feel like I opened Pandora's box.
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Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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20.02.2021 - 22:01
NAnsari
Viagra Boys, Arlo Parks, and Bicep were all interesting listens. I can't say I'm too familiar with the different genres they play but as an introduction to future garage, bedroom pop, and whatever's going on with the Viagra Boys, they made it a worthwhile journey.

A January 2021 album I've been playing a lot is by a new hip-hop/hardcore (not sure if I have the hardcore tag right) trio called Th1rt3n. The album's called A Magnificent Day For An Exorcism. Check it out! I think anyone here who is interested in hip-hop will find something to like in the album as it blends an ominous, doomy atmosphere with clever wordplay. Sort of a blend between Black Thought, Run The Jewels, and maybe Rage Against The Machine.
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