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


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, X-Ray Rod
Published: 15.01.2022


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

November 2021
October 2021
September 2021

And now to the music...






Gnod - La Mort Du Sens
[Noise Rock | Industrial Rock]

RaduP's pick


There comes a point where noise rock is virtually indistinguishable from sludge metal. Which is a point I've already made in my review of the latest Kowloon Walled City. But what Gnod do here is noise rock in a purer form, or rather in a more industrial/no wave inspired form that grounds it more in the experimental roots of the early 80s movement. So, while you could make the case that a bunch of noise rock album are basically sludge with a few extra steps, thus they can be packaged towards metalheads, La Mort Du Sens makes no such pretenses. But don't get me wrong, it's heavy as fuck, but in ways that metal couldn't really achieve.

Gnod have actually been around for quite a while, with their first releases coming out around 2007. Starting out as more of a psychedelic jam drone rock band, it took about ten years for their sound to grow harsher and noisier, to the point where it sounds like it sounds now. But the repetition and the distortion that they use to make noise rock do betray their roots into psychedelic krautrock and drone. Despite the relatively short runtimes (of most songs, and the album itself), a lot of it still relies heavily on repetition, usually of a punchy bassline and some industrial percussion, with the chanting fury and the distorted guitars and the occasional blaring horns planted on top of it. La Mort Du Sens is anger and anger and anger and anger.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Kosmodome - Kosmodome
[Progressive Rock | Stoner Rock]

musclassia's pick


In the same month that I cover Malady, a Nordic progressive rock band that borrows heavily from the 70s, I also cover Kosmodome, a Nordic (Norway in this instance) progressive rock band that is more than just a retro retread. The instrumental intro track, “Enter The Dome”, may lead one to think that one is about to venture into a record similar to modern Opeth albums, while the first ‘proper’ song, “Retrograde” has some of Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson’s sound in it, albeit a bit more of a technical version. This contorted yet slick and lush-sounding approach to prog feels pleasantly fresh, taking hints from the past while sounding very much like a modern prog record.

However, another way it avoids being a retro retread is by, at times, just turning into a desert rock record. There’s a psychedelic element to the first couple of songs, but nothing to forewarn listeners about the transition into a slick stoner rock jam on “Deadbeat”. Thankfully, Kosmodome sound great playing progressive rock or stoner rock, so this unexpected bait-and-switch doesn’t detract from the quality of the music. There is also still a bit of a retro-prog element in the vocal harmonies during the softer parts of “Deadbeat”, so it’s not a complete musical disconnect. Subsequently shifting between driving, bouncy jams and more proggy complexity, Kosmodome is a fun debut from the pair of brothers that comprise the record.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Malady - Ainavihantaa
[Progressive Rock]


I’ve covered quite a few retro-prog rock albums for this series by now, and with each new album it becomes that bit harder to think of an interesting way to introduce it. Finland’s Malady are deeply rooted in the 70s prog rock sound, with its fair share of cues to the likes of Camel and King Crimson. Between the complex, interweaving instrumentals, jazzy drumming and lush mellotron, the template is very familiar. However, whilst the rendition of the classic sound doesn’t offer much in terms of novelty, the execution is enjoyable enough to dampen the effects of those feelings of déjà vu.

Two relatively notable aspects to Ainavihantaa, the group’s third record, are the very sparse vocals (which sing in Finnish when present) and the presence of saxophone, a new feature to Malady following the addition of Taavi Heikkilä to the band. The saxophone adds a nice moving touch to the sedate, mellotron-heavy title track, while delivering more active soloing on “Vapaa Ja Autio”. This latter track is arguably the highlight of the album, finding a perfect balance between jazz and mellow prog; more of a ‘show-off’ track is “Haavan Väri”, which tests patience at times with its keyboard solo. For the most part, though, Malady find a good middle point between jazzy technicality and soulfulness, rendering Ainavihantaa a soothing and satisfying listening experience.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





VVV - Turboviolencia
[Synth Punk | Coldwave]


VVV or [trippin’ you]. Ok, I have no idea how the band name works but at least the Spanish trio are nailing the ”tripping” part. I have a soft spot for electronic music. The type that I find the most compelling and relatable is that one that combines catchiness with a dark sense of passion, rebelliousness, angst and instability. These synth punkers do not have a long trajectory but since 2018 they have released 3 albums by now. After a quick visit to their older catalogue I can say that their third opus, Turboviolencia, packs a much more vivid punch. It carries an ever-present sense of urgency through fast and powerful tracks that captivates me. All the songs remain so busy with very erratic beats. Some calmer moments can be found here and there but the overall atmosphere reeks of chemical-induced paranoia.

The distant backing vocals and synth layering reaffirm this disorienting state of ecstasy. I guess it could be just because I understand the lyrics, but man, I do love the vocals on this album. The constant shouting of the singers capture the feeling emotional detachment while remaining vulnerable. This is the perfect soundtrack to a dancefloor filled with ruthless, obsessive youth without a care. The vocals elevate the song’s faster sections while adding that morose, addictive goth vibe. All in all, Turboviolencia is an explosive work that most certainly does justice to its name. VVV [Trippin'you] seem to have found their voice. It is a scream that reaches my core as I try to maintain some form of sobriety in a club at 4 am.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by X-Ray Rod





Old Sport - Quietly Like The Sky
[Post-Hardcore]


Old Sport list Envy amongst their ‘for fans of’ section on the Bandcamp page for Quietly Like The Sky, which is a comparison that makes complete sense. Much like Envy, Old Sport’s take on post-hardcore brings a lot of post-rock elegance and delicacy to the fore. However, there’s also a substantial indie component to the music on this record. The outcome is that, aside from the screamo vocals, Quietly Like The Sky is very much not an aggressive record; there’s the odd heavy riff (“Regain Youth”) or intense drum passage (“Even As You Watch, I Am Fleeing”), but for the vast majority, this is a soft record with harsh vocals.

Given that, one wanders how much Old Sport hold themselves back in terms of finding a greater audience by including these raw, pained screams instead of a cleaner vocal approach, but they don’t necessarily feel out of place. On the instrumental side, opening track “Standing Quietly” starts things off strongly with some potent post-rock tremolo climaxes and shoegaze introspection, whilst the indie elements come through more strongly on “Possibilities With A Balloon” and “The Marketplace Of Ideas”. The group’s Bandcamp mentions that they are a part of the Colorado DIY scene, and there is a DIY roughness to the production of Quietly Like The Sky, but it’s not a hindrance to enjoying the record.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Failure - Wild Type Droid
[Alternative Rock]


Making a name for themselves with records such as Magnified and Fantastic Planet in the early-to-mid 90s before disappearing for a couple of decades, Failure have now been active as long during their reunion period as they were in the first phase of their existence, and with Wild Type Droid, they’ve released as many full-length records. Once associated with space rock, Failure have intentioned dropped space themes on Wild Type Droid, stating that “this album feels like a return to Earth”. Instead, this latest effort from the alt-rock trio is more grounded and streamlined, but is by no means basic.

I’ve seen Failure tagged as indie rock in many places, but their sound here (and seemingly on past records) lingers more in the space between alt rock and alt metal that the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden, amongst others, flirted with in the 90s. There is weight to some of the guitar riffing, and subtle dissonance is incorporated into the compositions, but there is also a lightness to the music courtesy of the cleaner guitar tones and languid approach to the vocals. The mixture of heavier and darker elements with unorthodox alt melodies has worked for over 30 years, and it works still on Wild Type Droid. Additionally, Failure do bring in different approaches, such as the melancholic, acoustic-heavy “Bring Back The Sound”. It’s not at the level of Hum’s triumphant comeback Inlet, but Wild Type Droid is a solid rendition of 90s-style alt rock in the 2020s.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Springtime - Springtime
[Experimental Rock | Post-Rock]


Wow! That's a cover art that just screams 90s indie alt rock. But that's not an 90's indie alt rock, as much as there is some clear influence from that scene, as much a rock album whose exact label is hard to name, but not a 90s one anyway. However all of the three members involved have been making music for quite some time. The main one is guitarist vocalist Gareth Liddiard of The Drones and Tropical Fuck Storm, backed by pianist Chris Abrahams of The Necks and drummer Jim White of Dirty Three. This is a debut album, as it being self-titled also suggests, and you could kinda consider it a merge of these musicians' histories.

Since Liddiard's Tropical Fuck Storm also released an album this year, one that I loved, and it's quite a different beast from Springtime. Despite both being very experimental, Springtime is more understated and introspective rather than loud and rowdy, with a stronger bittersweet element. The increased piano presence probably helps that a lot, also giving it bits of a jazz feeling, while the whole things sounds a lot like post-rock, particularly the early 90s kind (hey, that's what the cover art looks like). There's a Nick Cave-esque poetic darkness to it, the creative drumming giving in a sustained feeling of anxiety from under croons. The way things build up have a jam-like feeling, if jam bands were machines of anxiety and regret.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Tricot - 上出来 (Jodeki)
[Indie Rock | Math Rock]


Tricot have been hella productive lately. The band formed in 2010 and released their seminal debut T H E in 2013, but they've also come up with more records in the past two years than in the rest of their career (EPs not taken into account). We covered both of the previous ones (here and here), so Jodeki coming relatively shortly after those two is still a bit surprising. I guess that means we ought to sharpen up our J-rock vocabulary until that happens. As Jodeki, it initially seems like another serving of that math rock-ish take on J-rock that has already made tricot such a relevant name, but there's some shades here and there.

I initially compared tricot's music to anime opening songs (sorry), since that was my frame of reference, and while I haven't expanded that much, it's much easier now to see just how much of tricot's appeal lies in the contrast between the fiery and intricate instrumentals and the pop-ish vocals. It's a contrast that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, but there's specifically an instrumental version of the album for that very issue. And for what is mostly a serving of that same sound, tricot turn some hues even brighter, making Jodeki feel even more approachable, the influences from post-hardcore, indie rock, art rock, and funk still feel so lighthearted as they inject some variation in the sound, and, in a way, this is Tricot's least math rock album.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





The Physics House Band - Incident On 3rd
[Jazz-Rock | Progressive Rock]


I did listen to this mostly on a whim, because the cover art and the band name seemed cool. It's not surprising that this is jazzy, given that "The X Y Band/Ensemble/Quartet" is the basic template for a jazz group's name. But what was surprising is how well The Physics House Band blend the jazz with progressive rock, in a way that doesn't immediately feel like jazz fusion or the Cantebury scene, regardless of how much it still borrows from those. Taking a peek at the band's background, it seems like this is their debut full length despite making music for about a decade, and that's mostly because they have released three EPs and a live album so far, Incident On 3rd is the band taking their sound to the next level.

While the band always had the jazz aspect present in their music, their first EP especially had a pretty strong math rock vibe, which is something that has been replaced for the stronger jazz presence. A lot of the jazz here is pretty atmospheric, simulating a very metropolitan vibe, at times even bordering on dark jazz, but mostly by retaining its ambient quality without its darkness. At other times its explosive, with the saxophone especially being very prominent, but with great melodies from the pianos and guitars as well, all sustained by the creative percussion. And, I mean, it's jazz, of course the performances are very important. But Incident On 3rd works really well at integrating the ambient and explosive dynamics with the progressive songwriting.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Ill Considered - Liminal Space
[Free Jazz]


Liminal Space is the tenth album released by London jazz ensemble Ill Considered in their brief history; what makes this notable compared with the rush of previous activity from the group is that this time, instead of recording improvisations and putting them out into the world, Ill Considered spent significant time working on Liminal Space in the studio. This album is the first from the band released on a label, and with this backing comes the ability to work on developing music in the studio setting, as well as bringing in a range of other guests from the London jazz scene to contribute. Coming two years after a glut of nine records all self-released in a period of two years, and paired with an interactive audiovisual residency at the Southback Centre, Liminal Space is a major event in the progression of Ill Considered, and the music featured within backs up these current ambitions.

Although the record is less purely improvisational compared with the self-released albums, free jazz and improvisation remain at the core of Liminal Space. Liran Donin’s active, busy basslines and Emre Ramazanoglu’s smooth drums are the lynchpins keeping these meandering tracks grounded amidst the vibrant performances by the saxophones, flute and other instruments. Opener “First Light” has a very laid-back vibe, but others, such as “Loosed”, are brighter and more active, whilst there’s even moments of intensity on “Dervish”. Liminal Space is eclectic and occasionally chaotic, but it does benefit from the more purposeful approach undertaken during its creation.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Irreversible Entanglements - Open The Gates
[Jazz Poetry | Avant-Garde Jazz]


Moor Mother is a name I'm certain you've heard by now, if you've been paying attention to how much of her stuff we've covered. From her solo stuff to stuff with Zonal, Billy Woods, Moor Jewelry, as well as numerous features. But there's one Moor Mother project that we haven't gotten to cover (even if their previous album was released last year, sorry), which is the free/avant jazz project Irreversible Entanglements. The band is actually the older of Moor Mother's projects, other than her solo work, with the first release coming out in 2017. Doesn't seem that long ago, but that's only because of how prolific she's been since. But still, it would be wrong to just describe Irreversible Entanglements as Moor Mother's jazz project.

The quintet features Keir Neuringer on the alto saxophone, Luke Stewart on the double bass, Aquiles Navarro on the trumpet, and Tcheser Holmes on drums, which provide the jazz backdrop to Moor Mother's poetry; or rather the poetry is sprinkled over the jazz essence. Open The Gates is the longest of Irreversible Entanglements's works, at a whooping 73 minutes, and most of that time is spent is jazz mode. For a free/avant jazz album, Open The Gates is pretty content to spend a lot of its time in a more subdued mode, not going completely wild even at its most agitated. Recorded in a single day in January 2021, the improvisational aspect of Open The Gates makes it all the more lively, and the poetry on top is bare boned and precise.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Rival Consoles - Overflow
[Downtempo | Ambient Electronic]

musclassia's pick


Rival Consoles’s previous album, Articulation, was one of my favourite electronic albums in 2020. On that record, Ryan West (the man behind Rival Consoles) went primitive during the writing process, outlining tracks by hand before bringing them to live digitally. With Overflow, there’s a different twist to the compositional side of the album; this record serves as a score for a contemporary dance production sharing its name (choreographed by Alexander Whitley). To be honest, it’s not a record that stands out while listening as a dance piece, as it again falls into the ambient electronic category; however, it is perhaps more percussive in nature than its predecessor.

Overflow is also a lot longer than its predecessor; it’s over twice the length of Articulation. This length gives West the ability to delve into certain compositions, with the opener “Monster” seeing him explore various tones and effects within a 10-minute soundscape, everything just about sustained by subdued rhythms. Rival Consoles explores electronic elements both brash and subtle in this song, with more forceful synth lines contrasted with faint, warbling layers of serenity. Many of the tracks here feel perhaps a bit too sparse to be obvious accompaniment for dance performances, such as the gradually developing, soothing tones on “Hands” or the desolate, urban, industrial sounds of “Noise Call And Response I”, but there are also more rhythm-focused features, such as the at-times bouncy title track. Arguably the pick of the bunch to me was “Noise Call And Response II”, which beautifully merges serene synths with potent IDM rhythms.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Hidden Rivers - Golden Age Of Dereliction
[IDM | Ambient Electronic]

musclassia's pick


Hidden Rivers is the alias of electronic producer Huw Roberts (unsurprisingly, given the name, Roberts is Welsh), and Roberts takes an ambient IDM approach on Golden Age Of Dereliction; the title track to the record swiftly brought fellow British IDM producer Aphex Twin to mind. The mellow ambient soundscapes, muted rhythms and subtle melodies make for some very introspective dance music. This is more danceable than the Rival Consoles record I also cover in this edition, with slick beats placed at the forefront of up-tempo cuts such as “Unfolding Like A Rose”, but it still retains the same blissful serenity of that album.

The extent to which tracks are bathed in soothing synth tones varies; “Blackwater” very much focuses on the central rhythms and bouncy beats, with synths only gradually filling out parts of the background. In contrast, “Luminous Net” channels Boards Of Canada whilst eclectic glitching rhythms flicker beneath the swelling ambience and scattered melodies. Regardless of approach, however, Golden Age Of Dereliction captivates, insidiously working its way under your skin with the darkness of “Luminous Net” or warmly embracing with the nostalgic tones of “Laundrette”; this may well be the most satisfying electronic record I’ve heard in 2021.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Rüfüs Du Sol - Surrender
[Progressive House | Deep House]


Rüfüs Du Sol is a name that kept appearing through my YouTube recommended list, and by "kept appearing", I mean that I listened to "Innerbloom" a fair amount, and that's it. Seeing that they have a new record out, I was curious enough to check the rest of their catalog, from back when they went by as Rüfüs up to Surrender. Well, I can't say I found a new favorite EDM band, but I'm probably more eager to explore other house artists, since my predominant feeling towards Rüfüs Du Sol's music is that the sound is good, but they're not really doing that much with it. Or something along those lines.

Thing is, Rüfüs Du Sol's music is pretty cool. The production is leagues above most stuff out there, and their sound is so lush and warm in all its layers and progressions. I know house is a subgenre of EDM, but a lot of this is too subdued and slow for me to imagine it as music to dance to (sure, there's some dance worthy moments), hence why "Innerbloom" also showed up whenever I listened to stuff in a similar "electronic but not necessarily danceable" vein. But... I still don't think Tyrone Lindqvist's vocals are really doing much to enhance the music. They fit in some songs, but as a whole he makes Surrender sound more lethargic than it should be.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





dltzk - Frailty
[Indietronica | Glitch Pop]


Ladies and gentlemen, I am getting old. Or at least, I think I can finally understand what my parents feel when I listen to metal. There's barely seven years between me and dltzk, but there's already a generational divide in the internet zoomer electronica, one that I would probably feel even more harshly if I wasn't already a hyperpop fan. So at least, I'm easing into the sound of Frailty thanks to some background. But goddamn, it does make me feel like the feeling of alienation will only get worse from now on unless I actively try to keep up with similar stuff. dltzk is only one of the aliases that the singer/songwriter/produces makes music under, and most of the music released were scattered singles and the occasional fuller release, but Frailty is the first full length released under the dltzk name.

I am quite often reminded of the Parannoul album from last year (reviewed here) in its lo-fi directness, but merged with some of the soundscapes from that Porter Robinson album (reviewed here) to shift it into indietronica, and then go in a million directions at once. Frailty is pretty scattered, wild, raw, and honestly too long for its own good. But it's such a mesmerizing and dense experience that feels impossible to put a single genre on, even on single songs. Huge amounts of electronic processing, nostalgia injections, glitches, deadpan vocals, with a bittersweet brightness to it all. dltzk is obviously really young, and the creative potential here is immense. I just hope it will keep being at least as interesting once that potential is more focused.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Jónsi - Obsidian
[Ambient Pop]


Jón Þór Birgisson, also known as Jónsi, is mostly known as the vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist of Icelandic post-rock giants Sigur Rós. Even though he started his solo career in 2010 with the art pop Go, it wasn't until Sigur Rós slowly went to sleep. First with Kjartan Sveinsson's departure right before the last proper album, 2013's Kveikur. Sigur Rós' material since has been either unearthed old performances or ambient experiments that don't certainly count as Sigur Rós albums, but the final nail in the coffin was drummer Orri Páll Dýrason's departure in 2018 following some accusations. With Sigur Rós' future uncertain, Jónsi's solo career could resume pretty prolifically, with 2020's Shiver and now 2021's Obsidian.

There's a lot to be said about how similar or how different Jónsi's solo material is from his Sigur Rós work, since both operate very much in a pretty ambiental framework. Whereas the post-rock of Sigur Rós was a bit more expansive and dynamic, so much of it also rested on Jónsi's high-pitched vocals, so that will be a similarity regardless. Jónsi shifted the framework to a more electronic one, which has been apparent as far back as Go, and while the music around his vocals clearly had a bit of a pop appeal, each album added more ambient on top of it. Shiver was much glitchier, and now Obsidian feels more like an ambient album than an art pop album. And while there's enough to grab onto to make this ambient pop, it's still the ambient that takes precedence. Which probably explains why this is the longest of his albums, at 67 minutes. But that doesn't really work in its favor, as the blend between the two approaches makes it hard to enjoy it either as a pop album or as an ambient one, and it's never not beautiful, but it's stronger moments do quite get lost in the elongated runtime.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





GAS - Der Lange Marsch
[Ambient | Ambient Techno]


Techno music is probably the EDM genre that lends itself most to use as ambiance. I mean, the entire genre of "minimal techno" exists. But a lot of time it dabbles so much in ambient that it completely transcends the EDM label entirely. Wolfgang Voigt's GAS project has been one of those cases where even at its techno-est, it still felt more like a hypnotic experience. The 1998-2000 trilogy are some of the best ambient outings out there, with Pop especially rightfully receiving a lot of praise. Though the GAS project had been dormant for almost two decades, this is already the third full length release since the comeback from 2017's Narkopop. As fantastic as these last three albums were, it's clear that they're not gonna change the landscape the way the project did more than two decades ago.

Der Lange Marsch has a bit of a different feel from the other GAS records, in that it actually feels like other GAS records. While all the others had some intent of pushing an envelope, Der Lange Marsch is more of a comfortable career retrospective, almost feeling like it directly samples older GAS work. And with hints of this possibly being the last GAS record, it does make some sense. And it's not like Der Lange Marsch doesn't do anything unique, such as the ghostly choir in the tenth track. It's ghastly, to say the least, and all of it relies so heavily on the ambient side of ambient techno, feeling like a long march of an interminable beat. Apparently some early digital versions of it had high-pitched tinnitus-like beeps and awkward fade outs between tracks, but those seem to have been reduced almost completely.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Barn
[Folk Rock]


Neil Young is close to entering the seventh decade of his career, which is honestly pretty insane. I don't think I really need to go over Neil Young's background because if you haven't heard After The Gold Rush by now, there's something wrong with you. Neil's work hasn't been continuously relevant, but after having one of the most impressive career revivals in the early 90s, and even scoring some late career highlights with Psychedelic Pill, there's still a lot of middling stuff in between the archival releases and the genuine highlights. Teaming up with Crazy Horse once again, two years after their previous album together in Colorado. And... I just find it hilarious that there's a Neil Young album called Barn.

And, in all honesty, the album title is the best thing about the record. My respect for Neil keeps me from calling Barn anything close to bad, but having seen a bunch of musicians from that era still making music into old age and managing to age gracefully, Neil isn't really finding ways to make his old age charming. His vocals are probably the worst part of the record, and there's very little in terms of guitar playing highlights, even if the distortion still sounds rowdy. Stuff like "Canerican" are really really far from the man's best work, but sprinkled all through Barn are plenty of moments that remind us of why Neil is one of the established folk rock pioneers. But the moments are more reminders of times past rather than reasons to revisit Barn.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Dead Space Chamber Music - The Black Hours
[Neofolk]


Dead Space Chamber Music do perform chamber music, but not any that’s inspired by the popular sci-fi horror video game franchise; instead, the Bristolian project takes inspiration from ye olden times. The name of The Black Hours refers to a medieval book of prayers, and the album’s informational blurb on Bandcamp mentions that the featured compositions bring material that is hundreds of years old back to life using avant-garde and experimental techniques.

The merits of some of these more avant-garde approaches could be debated; the noisy percussive sound effect used in opening track “Liement Me Deport” is frankly rather grating, particularly due to how prominent it is in the mix, and the cello arrangements feel disjointed in relation to these sounds (the tracks are recorded live with all members present, so this is somewhat surprising). However, when it’s not getting in its own way, The Black Hours is a potently atmospheric album, one that reworks the gloomy ambient approach utilized by Nordic neofolk acts such as Wardruna and reframes it within a British medieval chamber context. There’s also some genuine heaviness to be found on certain tracks; the cello/guitar combination on “Mari Lwyd/Morfa’r Frenhines” is almost metallic as the track progresses.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Circuit des Yeux - -io
[Neoclassical Darkwave | Art Pop]

RaduP's pick


I've seen this album described as "operatic lounge darkwave" and I don't think I have any chance of finding a better description for -io than that. Circuit des Yeux is the main outlet of singer/songwriter Haley Fohr, who I first came across from guesting in a Xiu Xiu record, alongside an even poppier Jackie Lynn alter project. But she's made music as Circuit des Yeux since 2008, going through avant folk, lo-fi rock, darkwave, and art pop, and any combination of the aforementioned. While her previous album, 2017's Reaching For Indigo, put a bit more emphasis on the folk side, -io mostly ditches that side completely for an art pop take on darkwave. The result sits somewhere between Lingua Ignota, Scott Walker, and Weyes Blood.

Most of the instrumentals are a nice blend of neoclassical darkwave and baroque pop, making -io feel orchestral and dramatic, but adding Haley's outrageously operatic vocals on top creates an experience that sits between Soused and Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun, depending on how much you grow into the vocal style. From my experience, each listen brings it closer to the latter, but I also have a feeling that, as brooding as -io is, it isn't meant to be taken too seriously. I mean, it's somber and hypnotic, and quite malevolent, but there's an underlying tongue-in-cheek-ness to it that I hope I'm not reading too much into. It's easy to compare Circuit des Yeux to other artists, like I did, but -io's ability to craft its brooding atmospheres ought to be enough to make it a point of comparison for other artists coming forth.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Nas - Magic
[Boom Bap | East Coast Hip Hop]

RaduP's pick


If there's such a thing as an artist forever cursed by their debut album, the best example is Nas. Illmatic is such a massive classic, the kind of album that you wouldn't be surprised to find at the top of best hip-hop albums of all time. It's the kind of album that everyone, even people who don't like hip-hop should listen to. But then, every album that Nas released had to be compared to such a massive staple, and none of them really could hold a handle, even if they weren't bad albums (not most of them anyway). It would be weird to find someone whose favorite Nas album was not Illmatic. You get the point. But staple debut curse aside, Nas had a fairly good past couple of years. He had a short Kanye produced project that was pretty cool, a duo of albums called King's Disease I & II, where the second part was surprisingly much better than the first. But those were still not something I felt very compelled to write about. Then, Magic happens.

It's tough to put into words, but I guess it's something that was build towards for a while. I can't say whether it was inconsistency or corny cover arts or being derivative or whatever that kept most of Nas' stuff from not standing up to his debut. Magic is only 29 minutes long, it's produced entirely by Hit-Boy, and only has features on one song. Even if a lot of it is in common with Nasir, something really really works here. I'd like to say that this is the best thing he's done since 1996's It Was Written, but I don't have enough familiarity with his catalog, and I might be overly excited for how well these two work together here to really enhance each other's qualities. Who would've thought that in 2021, one would be compelled to say "Nas got bars"?

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month. Here's a Spotify playlist we compiled out of stuff featured here:







Comments

Comments: 2   Visited by: 45 users
15.01.2022 - 12:05
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Bunch of these were stuff I didn't get to do for the November edition.

Thanks everyone for another year of articles!
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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15.01.2022 - 17:41
Blackcrowe

Great Article and some interesting stuff
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Six stars of the northern cross In mourning for their sister's loss In a final flash of glory, Nevermore to grace the night….
Neil Peart
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