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


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg, Starvynth,
Published: 16.05.2021


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - April 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:

March 2021
February 2021
January 2021

And now to the music...






Motorpsycho - Kingdom Of Oblivion
[Progressive Rock]

musclassia's pick


I was thoroughly impressed by my first taste of Motorpsycho; after enthusiastically covering The All Is One in the September 2020 edition of this series, a certain someone sent me a list of recommendations for the band, given their extensive back catalogue. To my shame, I haven't even started on any of those recommendations; however, I have listened to the first album the Norwegian progsters have released since, Kingdom Of Oblivion, and my experience with this album only further emphasizes why I should delve further into their discography, if I can ever find the time. This band does a great job of combining various signature elements of classic prog rock with more modern approaches to conjure a distinctive brand of prog rock; there's dreamy vocals, driving riffs, scene-stealing keyboards, dirty guitar leads and more, and that's just the opening track "The Waning".

The first couple of songs are just cool, driving rock songs; on track 4, "The United Debased", Motorpsycho flex their prog muscles, contrasting powerful riffs with shimmering keyboard breaks and emotive vocals. The band do a great job on all three of the longer songs; "At Empire's End" is softer and steadier, but progresses with purpose, building nicely as acoustic and electric guitars trade off, whilst "The Transmutation Of Cosmoctopus Lurker" acts a platform for the guitars to really let loose with the solos without descending into self-gratification. There's some great music to be found in the shorter songs too; "The Hunt" is a really pleasant softer track, whilst "Dreamkiller" really builds the tension during its runtime. There's perhaps a bit too much in the way of interlude tracks or downtime on Kingdom Of Oblivion, with "The Watcher" running on far too long with too little happening, but although the album could benefit from trimming some of these sections, the actual prog rock when it does arrive is excellent.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Dinosaur Jr. - Sweep It Into Space
[Indie Rock | Alternative Rock]


I wouldn't call Dinosaur Jr. underrated or overlooked, but it's quite clear that they never really reached a lot of the same heights as other alt/indie rock bands, despite being very well appreciated by people in-the-know. For a band going as far back as 1985, with classics like 1987's You're Living All Over Me and 1991's Green Mind, they have quite a solid legacy, and even their post-reunion material, like 2009's Farm has shown that there is still some steam in the machine. That said, the material since has been, if not bad, maybe a bit by-the-numbers. Sweep It Into Space finds a band in their mid 50s, feeling like they're comfortable resting on their laurels.

But I like Dinosaur Jr. Even if they don't have anything left to prove, a by-the-numbers album of theirs still retains the charm of the slacker sound that made them famous. Though the "noise rock" part of their sound has long been toned down, the fuzz in the guitar playing still shows traces of it to this day, albeit in a more sun-drenched way. The vocals still feel loveable, the guitar playing is still pretty loud and playful, and the sound still sounds jovially lo-fi. But more so than any other Dinosaur Jr. record I've listened to, I felt like it was blending into itself, not really doing anything to set the tracks apart, and for an album that is less than 45 minutes in runtime to start feeling like a chore is a pretty bad sign, especially if it's a band you already know you like.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Wędrowcy~Tułacze~Zbiegi - Futurista
[Coldwave | Post-Punk]


Wędrowcy~Tułacze~Zbiegi is a project led by Sars, whom you may know from Furia and Massemord (POL). Odraza are also on the same label (Devoted Art Propaganda) and have made several posts on social media about this release because Stawrogin is apparently in charge of the vocals. The project's third full-length, entitled Futurista, is supposed to be a 15-chapter story about the life of a man, who becomes an animal just like the ones he used to skin. So I am guessing there must be a sequel in the works as this one only features the tracks "Futurista I" through to "Futurista VIII".

From spoken word to chanting and from invocations to laments and desperate cries, the super expressive vocals on this album are the driving force with the music often taking the back seat. Said music is a coldwave / dark ambient / post-punk mixture of minimalist character, helping with the emotional engagement nonetheless. The atmosphere is cold and foreboding most of the time and there is a general sense of anxiety and creepiness. Futurista acts much like a soundtrack, it is quite cinematic and the music is often repetitive and hypnotic with the synths exuding an ominous feeling and the drums doing their own thing to add to the anticipation of it all. Unfortunately, I don't speak Polish and I am under the impression that it's a prerequisite in order to appreciate Futurista to its full extent, since the vocals and the storytelling are the point of focus. Nevertheless, I found it to be a more interesting listen than the latest Furia.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by nikarg





Crown - The End Of All Things
[Darkwave]

musclassia's pick


It's been six years since French duo Crown released an album; six years is the kind of period during which the personnel in a project might undergo a radical shift in musical interests and inspiration, so it may not be surprising that The End Of All Things is a departure from the intense industrial metal found on Natron. However, the extent of the difference in sound is likely to polarize, as this album is neither industrial nor metal, apart from in occasional snippets. Instead, The End Of All Things sees Crown transition from being a metal band with electronic elements to being an electronic band, more specifically darkwave. There are slick, muted, 80s-inspired grooves, rich, mellow vocals and moody atmospheres to be found on The End Of All Things; thankfully, Crown demonstrate themselves to be a good example of making a big change in your sound but justifying it by nailing the new style.

The opening double salvo of "Violence" and "Neverland" are very classically darkwave/synthwave: laidback, subdued and, for lack of a better word, cool. The project has used a drum machine from the outset, and this experience with electronic percussion rendered Crown well suited to moving into this new style, as the beats are reliably satisfying throughout the album. Once past the first couple of tracks, there is diversity to be found on The End Of All Things, between the melancholia of "Illumination", the acoustic guitar-based "Fleuve" and guest vocal cameo by Karin Park on closing track "Utopia". There's also faint call-backs to their past life as a metal band in the distorted guitars and faint screamed vocals on "Shades". However, whilst this nod to their past is well integrated, I don't find myself missing the sound of Natron whilst listening to this new record; in fact, The End Of All Things is more up my street than Crown's previous material, and their updated sound should appeal to anyone with an interest in darkwave or related electronic styles. This record feels like an electronic album written by, and for, metal fans.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Suffocate For Fuck Sake - Fyra
[Post-Rock | Screamo]


I'm not gonna be the first not the last one to comment just how stupid the band name is. Not only does it scream of the wrong type of "screamo", but it's also grammatically incorrect. The moment I noticed that I almost didn't want to ever listen to this band anymore, but alas, here we are. It might help that they're the kind of post-metal band that does pretty much everything post-metal does except with as many non-metal elements. Heavy post-rock blended with screamo-ish post-hardcore that borders on sludge, but not really. It's the most post-metal band that isn't metal.

And though they've been around for more that 15 years, this is only their fourth release, coming five years after 2016's In My Blood, and it seems to make up for the lost time by packing Fyra with over 80 minutes of material. Does Fyra have its fair share of great musical ideas? Yes. Does Fyra justify its runtime? No. A lot of it tries to be more immersive with a lot of spoken word samples to give it a more narrative feel, which works to some extent, but doesn't really benefit the musical side of the album, with the massive hardcore post side being awkwardly placed near the electronic ambiance in the interludes in a way that does nothing to preserve any sense of flow and momentum.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Hail The Sun - New Age Filth
[Post-Hardcore]


By now, I've covered quite a few post-hardcore bands for this series, but Hail The Sun are one of the most impressive ones that I've come across. Ostensibly falling under the 'swancore' umbrella as part of Blue Swan Records, the label run by Dance Gavin Dance guitarist Will Swan, there is some of Dance Gavin Dance in the bright tone and wackiness of New Age Filth, albeit with less cross-genre experimentation, as the record is rooted in post-hardcore and math rock. The real selling point of Hail The Sun is Donovan Molero, the singer/drummer of the group. The bright, passionate tone of his clean sung vocals, combined with effectively hooky vocal melodies, results in every song reliably grabbing the listener's attention. I'm trying to think of a more accurate comparison for his vocals than Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In/The Mars Volta, but it's eluding me at present, so that will have to do for now. Add in some suitably punchy screams, and Molero serves as a major reason for the appeal of New Age Filth.

Still, whilst the vocals are the attention-grabber, the instrumentation is not to be sniffed at. An eclectically mathy strain of post-hardcore (it doesn't have the aggression to fall under mathcore), you get some scene-stealing guitar leads (such as open "Solipsism"), frenetic riffs (some of which slam particularly hard, for example on "Parasitic Cleanse"), song structures that flip on a dime, stirring slower sections that allow Molero to deliver some grandstand cleans: basically everything that you would expect, but all delivered to a high standard. Molero himself isn't ready to let his vocals overshadow his percussive skills; "Misfire", one of the hookiest tracks here (with an insidious chorus and explosive final solo), also serves as a full-on drum workout, with Molero managing to balance complex, fast-paced rhythms with soaring vocal melodies. If you're looking for something to sample on the brighter end of the post-hardcore spectrum, New Age Filth is well worth your time.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Concrete Ships - In Observance
[Noise Rock]

musclassia's pick


Just because music is featured in this non-metal article, doesn't mean that it can't be heavy. Take "Flotilla", for example, which opens In Observance with a big, bruising riff, nicely introducing new listeners to Concrete Ships's noise rock approach. Between the huge reverbing production of the drums, the intense vocal style of frontman Chris Thompson and the eerie levels of guitar feedback added as noise on top of the emphatic main riff of this track, it's clear from the outset that Concrete Ships are not to be trifled with, deriving clear influence from Daughters amongst others.

"Flotilla" is a bit of an oddity on In Observance in that it's only 4 minutes in length; excluding the interlude "Observe", all the other tracks here are twice as long as "Flotilla", if not longer. These longer-form compositions don't all pummel listeners with riffs in the way the opening song does; instead, "A Record Of Ancient Matters" spends more time exploring more drone-based instrumentation, with the percussion keeping things moving forwards whilst the guitars repeat the same sustain-based riff again and again. Whilst the faster, harder-hitting riffing Concrete Ships deliver when they bring the heaviness offer plenty of fun, the more drawn-out, psychedelic sections can be, if anything, more captivating. In Observance is mean, intense and imposing, and I could see it appealing to lots of people with a taste for metal, or those that enjoy metal-adjacent acts such as Daughters and Swans.

Bandcamp | Spotify

by musclassia





Årabrot - Norwegian Gothic
[Noise Rock | Gothic Rock]


If the name of the album first takes your mind to the Ulver song of the same name, you're not the only one. Granted, both bands are Norwegian, and Norwegian Gothic is Årabrot's most gothic album. Sure, it's not like Årabrot haven't muddied their noise rock and almost sludge adjacent sound with gothic sounds, whether more post-punk-ish or more gothic country-ish, for a long while now. But this is them fully pushing that sound forward. And it's not that usual to hear noise and gothic rock blended this way. It's like Unsane meets Christian Death, but with more alt rock as the common ground.

At this point in Årabrot's career, with close to 20 years under their belt, they can be excused for not having their sound be as explosive, and have something more of a eclectic mysterious mix of many collaborators from members of Turbonegro, Jaga Jazzist, Motorpsycho, Jo Quail, Ulver, and Zu. The album is more hook-heavy than I ever remember Årabrot being, which makes their arcane volatile sound even more memorable, even if I still can't say I'm a big fan of the vocals. But within the album's hour long runtime, they go full throttle in terms of how adventurous and dynamic their sound is.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Ciccada - Harvest
[Progressive Rock | Progressive Folk]


Retro-prog rock is nothing new, and neither are Ciccada, as the Greek band was first formed in 2005. However, it's not been the most prolific project, as this year's Harvest is but their third album released in the 16 years since the band's inception. What the band lack in abundance they make up for in quality; Harvest takes all the hallmarks of classic prog bands such as Gentle Giant, including the extensive overlap with folk music, and produces something quite lovely. "The Old Man And The Butterfly" could easily have been recorded around the same time as Genesis's Selling England By The Pound, with its elaborate composition, vocal interchanges, myriad of instruments (guitars, piano, keyboard, flutes, and more, many of which are played by Nicolas Nikolopoulos, who is credited with no fewer than 14 instrumental roles on Harvest) and folky melodies; however, just because it could have been recorded then doesn't mean that it wouldn't be shame if it hadn't been recorded now.

Unlike Motorpsycho, Ciccada don't make any great efforts to disconnect their sound from the classic era for the prog rock genre, with all the guitar, woodwind, keyboard and vocal melodies deriving great inspiration from that style; "No Man's Land" encapsulates all of this as the initial fanfare of flutes makes way for a serene acoustic journey accompanied by Evangelia Kozoni's vocals. The album also shares the proclivity of bands from that era to take things in a weird direction from time to time; this is no better represented than by the peculiar midsection of "Who's To Decide?", as the collective dissonance of separate clashing arrangements on the guitars, keyboards and flutes is only heightened by bizarre vocal non-harmonies. The sheer disorienting nature of this section is starkly contrasted by the lovely melodic guitar solo that follows. Harvest is a bit too indebted to the past, but it's a very well-composed recreation of the sound of that period.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Death From Above 1979 - Is 4 Lovers
[Dance-Punk | Noise Rock]


I'll have to admit that I'm not really versed in what "dance-punk" is or if I agree that the term really fits the music that well, since there's a big enough portion of this album I wouldn't call neither punkish (more noise rock-ish) nor dance-able, but then again, there's an even bigger part that is both of those things. Death From Above 1979's music is first and foremost noisy and dynamic. Which I guess translates to that. I always found that the band's logo of the two members with husks was a bit more iconic than the music itself, but Is 4 Lovers is the first of their releases not to feature that on the cover art.

Despite being in the biz of making noisy dance music, Death From Above 1979 really don't sound old on this record. Perhaps more mature in lyrical themes and soundscapes in the more mellow parts of the record, but I wouldn't call it aged. The album goes from noisy guitars and howling vocals to synth dominated soundscapes. It's somewhat of a contradictory album in that regard in that it jumps quite a lot in energy and mood, and it's at its best when it can accommodate both approaches. Although I'd be a liar not to admit I'm more excited the noisier it gets.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





When Waves Collide - Chasm
[Post-Rock]


Released on the same record label as Three Steps To The Ocean, Chasm is When Waves Collide's debut album, and they make a bold first statement on "The Fallen", as delicate looping guitars transition into some satisfying driven riffs. Chasm is post-rock with the emphasis on the rock, featuring some powerful riffs and grooves, and whilst there's the inevitable ebb and flow of volume and intensity that comes with the genre's territory, it doesn't feel contrived; the way that "The Fallen" segues from delicate to loud, to heavy and then briefly quite before bringing the different elements of the song in together for the finale really pulls you in. It's one of the better opening songs to a post-rock album that I've heard in a while; it's also the best song on Chasm, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't check out the rest of the record.

"Cataclysm" has a more languid, spacious feel, but the ebb and flow of the track doesn't drag, and the closing minutes with heavy riffs, moving guitar melodies and celestial synths is dramatic and exciting. Electronics find further nice use in the closing moments of "Dark Matter", with some captivating oscillatory patterns, and as more central components of the mix on the closing track "Stranding". The vibe on Chasm is mostly quite emotionally charged, but "Chimera" goes for a more delicate tone, with lighter guitar work featuring classic post-rock shimmers; When Waves Collide sound at their best when the mood is a bit more intense, but a change in mood once in a while can help amplify such moments. As I mentioned in my write-up of Kuiper's Alignments, it's not easy to make a mark as a new post-rock band in 2021, but releasing a record as compelling as Chasm is the best way to go about it.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Kuiper - Alignments
[Post-Rock]


It's not easy to stand out as a post-rock band making your debut in 2021; not only are you coming after the bands that popularized the sound in the first place, you are coming several years after the genre was saturated by a wave of similar-sounding groups. Kuiper, a three-piece instrumental act from Australia, make a good first impression by adorning their debut record Alignments with some lush cover art, and manage to sustain interest via effective use of electronics. By no means a novelty in post-rock, substantial use of electronics does at least offer some variation from guitar-only crescendocore acts, particularly if used as the lead instrument. The songwriter of Kuiper, Dion Zisos, is the synthesizer/pianist/bassist of the group, and the opening title track features the synths as the primary instrument for much of the song, with some sedate but pleasant melodies dominating much of the track, before it eventually transitions into guitar-dominated heaviness.

The synths retain a pivotal role in subsequent tracks; the combination of the warbling synth melodies and delicate guitar arrangements on "Fata Organa" is synergistic, each element elevating the contributions of the other. There is signature post-rock tremolo to be found, but as the ambient electronics fluctuate in the mix, that tremolo moves in and out of focus, adding a distinctive feel to its use on the track and maximizing its impact in the moments where it cuts through most clearly. The tone on the album switches from melancholic ("Fata Organa") to weird ("Omni") and ultimately more uplifting ("Ekstasis"). Add in the synth-only "A State Of Flow" and piano-only closing track, and you've got a varied and relatively distinctive post-rock effort, and an enjoyable one at that.

Bandcamp

by musclassia





Bruit - The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again
[Post-Rock | Modern Classical]


Post-rock bands have frequently been described as being 'cinematic', particularly the likes of Nordic Giants. Toulouse's Bruit are another group that could fall into this category, mainly due to their use of string instruments (violin and cello), which gives the music an epicness that would nicely serve as a movie soundtrack. The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again is one of three post-rock debut full-lengths I cover in this month's article, and of the trio, it's definitely the most exciting. "Industry" is a huge opener, the kind of dramatic slow burn that can make post-rock so emphatic; it moves from quiet ambience through trip-hop territory and onwards, carried by the excellent percussion work of Julien Aoufi, before reaching a monstrous climactic wall of sound comprised of guitars, strings and drums. There have likely been a million post-rock crescendos written by now, but they still have the capacity to excite when done right, and "Industry" is done right and then some.

This climax isn't the only dramatic wall of sound on The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again; however, the routes via which Bruit reach them vary. Whilst "Industry" follows a very linear path, "Renaissance" flickers through mellow acoustic guitar dancing and a soothing clarinet interlude before shifting gears and bringing the storm. They can also bring the volume earlier on, such as during "The Machine Is Burning", or not at all, with "Amazing Old Tree" more of an ambient piece than anything else. Bruit make good use of conventional post-rock instrumentation, electronics and classical instruments in combination to produce a stirring record. "Industry" does set an extremely high bar for the rest of the album, one that it doesn't quite live up to, but The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again is one of the more exciting post-rock debuts to come around in a while.

Bandcamp

by musclassia





Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders &
London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

[Third Stream | Modern Classical]

RaduP's pick


There's very rare instances of artists of this caliber from seemingly different music worlds manage to find common ground to create something this entrancing. First we have electronic music artist Floating Points, who has only been around for slightly more than a decade but already managed to mark himself as an innovator, then there's Pharoah Sanders, 81 years old, living legend, avantgarde/spiritual jazz saxophonist whose late 60s and early 70s work is among the genre's best, including works with John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. And lastly, I doubt there's an orchestra with as much renown as The London Symphony Orchestra.

So here's a blend of electronica, jazz, and classical. All of which have been blended before, sometimes all three, but as a whole this one feels more on the classical side, with some progressive electronic soundscapes and some spiritual jazz soloing. And it works marvelously as a work on stillness and abstraction, it's a single work in different movements that is more interested in slowly developing around its core rather than developing the core itself, hence why you'll find a lot of it repeating the same patterns, but with different embellishments. It could have done without the vocals in the 4th movement, and it feels like it could do with more rather than with less most of the time, but it feels elegant in a way that music hasn't felt in a long time.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Andy Stott - Never The Right Time
[UK Bass | Ambient Techno]


I've been following Andy Stott for a while, as he quickly became one of my favorite electronic musicians. Even though I can't say any of the material he's released since I've became a fan struck me as much as his 2011-2016 run, he's never really completely fallen off. I covered his previous release, the It Should Be Us EP, and now this record kind of cement the fact that he's still a force to be reckoned with, but that his sound no longer feels as fresh and innovative as it did in his peak.

The bassy ambient techno that borders on deconstructed club has been a staple of his sound for a while, but he's quite shed a bit of the dub influences of his previous work. In a way, this is a more "pop" album, at least by his standards, and that's partly because the sound is more restrained, and about half of the tracks feature vocals from his frequent collaborator, Alison Skidmore. The layers aren't as dense or complex, even if they clearly carry the signature style, making it a more ambiental and cold album, with some of the ambient soundscapes bordering on post-industrial.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Iglooghost - Lei Line Eon
[UK Bass | Progressive Electronic]


To call electronic music otherworldy doesn't really seem like much, considering how artificial it is by default, but Iglooghost's music is among the ones where it feels like that qualifier goes the extra mile, in just how alien it feels. The wonky UK bass beats of Iglooghost's debut have set all eyes on just how promising of a sound the project was delivering. And even if there have been a bunch of EPs and a collaborative project in the form of Gloo, Lei Line Eon is finally the follow-up to 2017's Neō Wax Bloom.

In a way, this is a more lowkey record than its predecessor. It's less in-your-face in terms of its energy, and prefers to feel more like a mood setter rather than a party. But it's far from being anything close to ambient music with how busy it is despite its mellower mood. This does lead to some issues in terms of actually creating and sustaining momentum, as it seems like the absolutely colorful soundscapes that nobody but Iglooghost could create don't necessarily build as seamlessly into songs. It's never distracting or boring, but it feels like visibly untapped potential. This is uniquely beautiful, but it feels like there's a need for more polish on this approach, and I hope we get it.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Lost Girls - Menneskekollektivet
[Art Pop | Electronica]


Menneskekollektivet is the debut record from Lost Girls, a long-time collaborative project featuring Jenny Hval and Håvard Volden. Hval has performed as a solo artist for an extended period of time (during part of which Volden has featured in her live band), and I largely enjoyed her 2019 album, The Practice Of Love. The music on that record was of an avant-garde synthpop style, with trancelike synths combined with more art pop-based songwriting and vocal arrangement approaches. Menneskekollektivet does feature electronic music at its core, but the album leans more towards avant-garde art pop than more conventional synthpop. There's a couple of very lengthy tracks here, including the opening title track, which sees Hval's pensive, meandering vocals grounded by a regular, persistent percussive electronic base.

The album's Bandcamp page mentions that Hval and Volden entered the recording studio with unfinished material, resulting in a heavy emphasis on improvisation during the recording process. This wasn't really a surprise to read when listening to the album; there is a looseness to some of the songs, particularly the title track. However, on the songs where there feels like a clearer structure is in place, such as "Losing Something", Lost Girls captures a really charming sound; the song reminds me somewhat of the 80s-inspired sound of Lost Girls by Bat For Lashes (reviewed in the same 2019 article as The Practice Of Love, and whilst the name match is likely a coincidence, as a fan of Lost Girls, I really enjoy the subdued vibe, 80s-style melodies, hypnotic percussion and angelic chorus on "Losing Something". In addition to Hval's distinct singing voice, there's also a lot of spoken word to be found on Menneskekollektivet, just as there was on The Practice Of Love. It feels a bit counterintuitive that I find myself most appreciative of the more conventional-sounding material from an artist that is clearly aiming to be bold with her music, but for those with a taste for art pop, Lost Girls may be well up your street.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Altin Gün - Yol
[Synthpop | Anatolian Rock]

RaduP's pick


In some of my previous reviews in this feature I talked about the last two King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard albums, and how they seem to take from what I saw called as "Anatolian Rock", and I admitted that I cannot properly assess that since I haven't actually listened to genuine Anatolian Rock. Well, Altin Gün is the closest thing to that, being a Dutch-Turkish group settled in Amsterdam. But the music is genuinely Turkish, and living in a Balkan country, you just know it because of how familiar it sounds. But it's passed through a very modern filter, applying all sorts of jammy neo-psychedelia, synthpop, funk, disco; all the while not being afraid of approaching both the poppier, the folkier, and the psychedelic aspect of the Anatolian music they're taking from.

Compared to its predecessors, Yol is amping up the synthpop side of their songs, in some songs more than in others. At first I was a little reserved about the shift in sound palette, but then "Yüce Dağ Başında" ended up being my most listened to song of the year so far. Obviously it's not a massive shift, and most of the album is still based on psychedelic Turkic jams, just with some disco synth pop. At it's best it is hypnotizing, and it is worst it's just a little kitsch. But, holy shit, what a colorful album. You can already tell from the album cover. And as a person living in a country with a huge Turkish influence, I've rarely heard it made so appealing. Unless you count manele.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Saccades - Flowing Fades
[Synthpop | Indie]


Saccades is a side-project of Nicholas Wood from The KVB, a project described as a combination of electronic, psychedelic, post-punk and shoegaze music. Elements of most of these styles bleed through into Flowing Fades, the second album by Wood under the Saccades name, but whilst The KVB is considered to be gloomy and minimalist, there is a brighter feel to Flowing Fades. Aside from the hazy shoegaze-esque soft vocals, there's funky basslines, gentle synth melodies and easy-going guitar work on opening track "Islands Past". Synthpop may not be entirely accurate; some songs place the electronics in the foreground, such as the disco vibes of "On Your Mind" and the bright synths on "Like Everyday", but other songs feel closer to indie or dream pop. In any case, the tone is mellow pretty much throughout, making Flowing Fades easy listening.

As the record is self-described as music for escapism, it's interesting that Wood features tracks as subdued as "All Divided Selves", with vocals so soft they're almost breathed and instrumental work drenched in sad nostalgia. "Tonight We Can Expect The Same" goes further, effectively abandoning the electronics for a slow, downcast acoustic piece. However, Wood acknowledges the melancholia that has bled into Flowing Fades from the world in which it was conceived, so perhaps the inclusion of songs such as these isn't surprising. The likes of "Breezy" and "Heat" possess a bit more brightness, but even with more upbeat synth lines, the hushed vocals keep everything grounded. There's aspects of Flowing Fades that make it a bit too twee for my liking, although that likely reflects my general disinterest in indie. However, between the nostalgia for an array of different musical periods that distinct elements in the music inspire and the dreaminess of the more upbeat aspects of the album, it makes for mellow and soothing listening overall.

Bandcamp

by musclassia





SeYSMIC - Resurrection
[Dark Synthwave | Horror Synth]


Do you actually have to justify yourself if you don't necessarily like electronic music in general? I'm not quite sure, but I always have a few excuses prepared, just in case. One of my favourite excuses is that I prefer the sound of screaming guitars, pounding drums and a thumping bass to beeping synthesizers, it's as simple as that. Another good excuse is that I rather appreciate "real" songs with some kind of stucture, with hooklines, peaks and a high recognition value instead of listening to some shallow, artificial and random background tootling. Luckily though, none of these lame prejudices apply to the French synthwave project SeYSMIC.

A look at the track list reveals the thematic focus of Resurrection, it deals primarily with witchcraft and related torture methods, but also with occultism and Satanism (the track "6114 California St" is the former address of Anton Szandor LaVey's "Black House" in San Francisco). It therefore comes as no surprise that each song exudes a creepy, ominous and threatening mood and could easily serve as the centrepiece of a 80s horror movie soundtrack, in particular thanks to the eerie sounds of a theremin and a harpsichord. The most prominent musical element, however, besides the ethereal and ghostly synths that build the atmospheric framework of each song, is the dominant and rich guitar work. It's indeed the lush guitar riffs that provide a very special dynamic here, and in some songs, most notably in the outstanding track "Anastatis", even intricate guitar solos are not shied away from. It is also remarkable that, despite the indisputably modern setting, Resurrection is more reminiscent of classical compositions, video game aesthetics often typical of this genre are hardly to be found here. In the end, the only question that remains is, which synthwave artist would John Carpenter have chosen if he hadn't composed most of his haunting film scores himself? Just a little hint: it would for sure be a French one, but it would neither be Carpenter Brut nor Perturbator.

Bandcamp

by Starvynth





Shpongle - Carnival Of Peculiarities
[Psytrance | World Music]


British progressive trance duo Shpongle is the soundtrack to occupying the only elevator in the house for hours, randomly mashing buttons in search for places beyond the floor plan while the old lady next door is forced to use the stairs all day. The first studio release in four years, and not even half an hour of new music? I'll just listen twice.

Gentle flutes and soft synths start out the appropriately titled Carnival Of Peculiarities EP with a heavy focus on natural ambiance. "Mycelium Labyrinth'' takes its sweet time moving from natural to synthetic, introducing a mellow 7/4 groove that is quite content with lurching along. Nine minutes later, it reveals itself to have been a nearly imperceptible crescendo to the title track, which makes the first two tracks essentially one 18-minute song. Raja Ram's trademark flutes and various brass instruments play off the same 7/4 groove, but more and more upbeat. Whenever the weird "carnival" sound oddities threaten to push the song into avant-garde territories, a salsa-laden brass hook returns to assure this will not be yet another bad trip.

The final track, "Dr. Vinklestein Says," is a song I come back to over and over again. There are fast-paced off-beats, Tim Burton sits at a piano somewhere, and it all comes off as something like a Shpongled Diablo Swing Orchestra tune. This band was always at their best when going heavy on their 70s prog influences, and this EP is a promising return to form.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by Netzach





Ballaké Sissoko - Djourou
[World | Kora]


A kora is a 21-string instrument, described as combining features of the lute and the harp. Ballaké Sissoko uses the first few minutes of Djourou to highlight his mastery of this instrument, with listeners serenaded with fast-moving, complex yet dainty stringwork. Sissoko's kora was threatened by Islamic terrorists in his native Africa and subsequently damaged by customs officials, but he managed to repair the instrument, so it's not surprising that he spends some time allowing the instrument to shine by itself before introducing any other elements. Still, it's surprising when a voice first appears on Djourou, as halfway through the title track, Sona Jobarteh croons soothingly in tandem with Sissoko's dancing fingers. The kora has gained international recognition from the cross-culture collaborations of Sissoko and fellow Malian Toumani Diabaté, and Djourou features a variety of guests, both vocalists and instrumentalists, and the ability to expand the album's sound from virtuosic playing of its core instrument really benefits Djourou.

One of the instrumental-only collaborations is on "Jeu Sur La Symphonie Fantastique", an interpretation of Hector Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique" that sees Sissoko joined by cellist Vincent Ségal and Patrick Messina on clarinet; it's an interesting trio of instruments to find together, but the light plucking of the kora and rich sound of the cello contrast nicely with each other. Other nice contrasts can be found by combining the kora with hip-hop on "Frotter Les Mains", where the instrument sets a mellow base for Oxmo Puccino's half-rapped, half-spoken word approach to operate on, or by combining the instrument with Piers Faccini's soothing singing on "Kadidja". Not every song works perfectly; "Un Vêtement Pour La Lune" is patience-testing in its 9 minutes, and in general, the music relies more on the general vibes generated by its starring instrument than on any specific melodic hooks. Still, Djourou is an interesting introduction to a music scene that I, and likely many others, have not previously encountered.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Spirit Of The Beehive - Entertainment, Death
[Neo-Psychedelia | Noise Pop]


Though this is my first contact with Spirit Of The Beehive, it seems like this is the band's fourth record so far, and even with just listening to this one I can tell that... uh... they're really into psychedelic music. And so are we, but this is pretty far gone from the stoner rock, with it being such a weird blend of styles that it always leaves me guessing. A shitload of psychedelic production and noise, but applied to a very mellow indie pop, so it drags the "psychedelic", "noise", "dream", "experimental", "hypnagolgic" and "glitchy" descriptors along for the ride.

And I'm not to say that the record is disappointing in any way, but quite like a lot of similar records, it's emphasis is on creating compelling sounds rather than creating compelling songs, which is great in a way, because Spirit Of The Beehive go all the way in that department on Entertainment, Death. There's never a moment where you don't feel at least somewhat on edge and guessing, and thankfully none of it feels too artificially stitched together. Some of it may sound a bit too much like Flaming Lips meets Beach House meets Animal Collective, but I can name at least one album from each of those that I like less than Entertainment, Death.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





The Antlers - Green To Gold
[Indie Folk | Dream Pop]


The Antlers always occupied a pretty unique space in the indie world, partly because their combination of indie folk with slowcore and vivid lyricism that could somehow fit some midwestern emo record meant that they were a prime sadcore band both in their contrasting bittersweet melodies and their introspective lyrics. Hospice is probably their most well-known work, but it feels like every The Antlers record exists as a linear reaction to the previous record. However Green To Gold comes seven years after the previous record, so this one feels more insular.

The band was never one to really go "over-the-top" in terms of instrumentation, but this one feels like The Antlers at their most minimal. Often sounding like a very slow and minimal post-rock band playing alongside a folk duo, this one is less interested in some grandiose narrative, more content with being like a lush garden to take some respite in. Might be boring and uninteresting, but what I'd rather call it is uneventful. Partly due to tinnitus and vocal lesions, but also because Peter Silberman just seems to be in the part of his life where he'd rather enjoy a walk in the garden.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Alice Phoebe Lou - Glow
[Indie Pop | Singer/Songwriter]


Hey, it seems like we've been running this feature for such a long time that it's no longer that irregular to find that an artist we've featured previously is going to be featured again with a follow-up record. And we're not talking about those really prolific artists. I talked about Alice Phoebe Lou's previous record, 2019's Paper Castles, and I thought it is a really cute and dreamy album. Which is mostly the case about Glow as well. There's certainly some progression going on, and the fact that Paper Castles struck enough of a chord with me for me to immediately recognize Alice's name among new releases must mean that this is pretty good.

And yeah, Glow is definitely all I can ask from a psychedelic indie pop record. It still has an almost fantastical dreamlike quality to it, that I feel is crafter even better than in her previous records, giving the whole record an airy and ethereal vibe. I find it a bit in this album's disfavor that despite already associating Alice Phoebe Lou with this sound, I don't really get the feeling that I'm listening to her specifically when putting this on, with my mind wandering to Angel Olsen or Marissa Nadler in that dreamy lo-fi way. Which is a shame, because there's some depth and intricacy in this record, especially in the more band-focused tracks.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Amigo The Devil - Born Against
[Gothic Country]


I'm not as well versed in "gothic country" or even in "country" for that matter, so I don't have that much context for how Born Against stacks up in the genre as a whole. But this album was recommended to me, and I have to admit that this is a pretty appealing album in its unique way. Like I said, no idea how to properly contextualize it and if most gothic country is equally as wacky and humorous, but this seems pretty much like the kind of album that both doesn't take itself to seriously, but also one that hides some serious thoughts under that layer of humor.

Everything about the country aesthetic, whether it's the string instrumentations, the choir backing vocals, the lyrical themes being twisted, everything feels like a satirical exaggerated version of country. It's the kind of album that knows how to have fun and how to poke fun. There's a bit of a "gothic" feeling in the darker atmospheres of some songs, but mostly in the murderous lyricism, but it's also that lyricism that can somehow be extremely satirical, but also cut so deep with how contrastingly earnest it can get. It's fun, but it's to be taken seriously.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Armand Hammer & The Alchemist - Haram
[Abstract Hip Hop | East Coast Hip Hop]

RaduP's pick


Haram is a special kind of collaboration in the sense that I have covered music by all the parties involved in it. First we have producer The Alchemist, whose recent work with Freddie Gibbs and Boldly James has further cemented his knack for soul/jazz samples that take a darker psychedelic turn. Armand Hammer, the duo of rappers Billy Woods and Elucid, has been featured here with their previous album, but I've also had Billy as a solo artist and in his collaboration with Moor Mother, all of which have been among my top spots for this brand of very lyrical and inaccessible hip-hop. Pretty much perfectly embodying the "abstract" in the "abstract hip-hop" ethos. Is it any wonder that they work so well together.

With how prolific the people involved are, I guess it was only a matter of time until something like Haram came out. And their abstract styles manage to blend together and complement each other in a way that wouldn't have worked unless they had such a great chemistry. Because of the lack of hooks, the psychedelic beats feel like they blend into each other with a great sense of flow, but also a latent darkness in that soulful tone that works perfectly well with the highly descriptive stories of both rappers. The flows of the two ace the surreally ominous and subtly violent vibe of the stories and the graphic cover art. At barely under 40 minutes, Haram feels like a whole of dark and conscious and atmospheric hip-hop, free of the need of hooks.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP




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






Written on 16.05.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 97 users
16.05.2021 - 14:47
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
I thought Dinosaur junior was one hit wonder... Never knew they exist today
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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16.05.2021 - 15:49
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Bad English on 16.05.2021 at 14:47

I thought Dinosaur junior was one hit wonder... Never knew they exist today

I don't even know what is that hit supposed to be.
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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16.05.2021 - 15:50
Nejde
Green Devil
Nice to see Amigo The Devil here. One of my absolute favourite musicians. Also he categorizes his music as murderfolk, folk music/americana with quite morbid (and sometimes funny) lyrics, although that applies better to his earlier material. But if you're to go with just one pick here, go with Amigo The Devil. And check out his whole discography, you won't regret it because this guy is a genius.
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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17.05.2021 - 09:52
DeliciousDishes
always right
Written by Nejde on 16.05.2021 at 15:50

Also he categorizes his music as murderfolk, folk music/americana with quite morbid (and sometimes funny) lyrics, although that applies better to his earlier material. But if you're to go with just one pick here, go with Amigo The Devil. And check out his whole discography, you won't regret it because this guy is a genius.

I mean "gothic country" fits as well, I also heard the terms "southern gothic" and stuff. And yeah it's not "just" morbid anymore (though this record still has a few of those), so maybe switching to the gothic country term is good.

And I agree that the whole discography is REALLY worth diving into. Both the first full length LP and the first compilation of the older material are incredible
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You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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17.05.2021 - 13:15
JoHn DoE

I didn't know the Antlers are back, I'm definitely gonna check it out, I like this band.

I'm also gonna check out Crown.

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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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20.05.2021 - 23:36
Skøllgrim
Northern
Here's a heads up for people who are interested in checking out more post-rock infused screamo sort of in the vein of suffocate for fuck sake.... Check out the band Vi Som Älskade Varandra Så Mycket: I think it's pretty solid stuff, lyrics are in Swedish though, so that might not be everyone's cup of tea. Oh and they were actually featured on one of the tracks on the suffocate for fuck sake abum listed here.
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