Tag Archives: Experimental

Yesway – Album Review

San Francisco’s Yesway is the creation of best friends Emily Ritz and Kacey Johansing. Kacey, in addition to a budding solo career following the release of her Grand Ghosts LP last year, has lent her talents to projects such as Geographer while Emily is an active member of the band DRMS.

Four years ago, the two began playing music together in the experimental folk ensemble Honeycomb which initiated their path toward growing and weaving their creative song writing and soulful expression into a power duo.

Their voices literally melt together and their performances are intimate yet expansive. Although their instrumentation is centered around vocal harmonies and two guitars, many of their songs are in odd time signatures and do not follow a traditional song form. The results on the upcoming Yesway LP (out now) are songs that are truly celestial, shapeshifting across different moods that match their creative styles.

There isn’t a bad song on the new Yesway record and that’s a massive statement in itself. The whole album is blissful, creative and entrancing. Their harmonies are outstanding allowing you to fully drift into their musical world. They sound like angels singing. A good way to describe Yesway are to think of First Aid Kit with softer voices and a much more dynamic and creative approach. This isn’t your standard folk album.

Whoacean starts the album off which its melodic yet repetitive guitar riff which is joined rather spontaneously by the girls’ vocals, vocals that repeat “Ah who who, ah who who”. The vocals are scattered, complimentary and peaceful. It’s an experimental track to start a record with but it works in its entirety.

Let Go introduces the girls’ ability to write meaningful and captivating lyrics. While Whoacean is about musical arrangements and sporadic harmonies, Let Go has meaning. It starts, “Take position/Because there’s no no no no no guessing/Take cover under me/Because you don’t know who owns the body/Then let go…” with the second verse, “Choose your your your your your weapon/Because there’s no guessing/Take control over me/Because you don’t know who owns your body/Then let go…” truly putting the idea of this song forward. It’s a song about being vulnerable, about needing someone to help you and protect you so you can let go of some of that angst and frustration – so it’s not all on your shoulders. It’s a beautiful song – this is the only way to describe it.

Yesway’s newest single Howlin’ Face features on the album. This song has a very natural feel to it. The lyrics refer to nature, “If the howling dog should cry out/Quake is coming/Quake is coming…But oh how my body howls/The tallest trees in sight fall down…When the darkness seeks out the light/I won’t fight it…” Howlin’ Face seems to explore the idea of nature and how its many animals and ecosystems interact with each other and continue constantly. Howlin’ Face could perhaps be trying to get us to recognise how we’re also a part of this natural world, “How my body howls/The tallest trees in sight fall down…” It’s another outstanding track on this outstanding album.

Sun Through Feathers introduces a jazzy feel to this album. The harmonies are a little like The Puppini Sisters – uplifting and cheeky. The lyrics, “I saw the sun through feathers…I saw the leaves back on the trees…” again creates this idea of being free and in sync with nature. This song conjures up images of hazy summer evenings in gorgeous green fields, starring at the wonder of the sky, the birds, the flowers.

The end of the album see Heart Does Not Lie, Beat Obedient and Winter Willing are add something to the record before its close. Heart Does Not Lie sees the girls sing in a lower key creating a slightly more sombre tone which goes hand in hand with the lyrics and the dramatic, crashing drums. This is the most similar sounding song to First Aid Kit. Beat Obedient sees those peaceful harmonies sneak straight back in allowing the listener to once again lose themselve in Yesway’s musical world. Winter Willing ends the album with an upbeat track full of seasonal imagery. The guitar riffs compliment each other and feel bouncy and bright. The lyrics, “October…let the colours bury me/Summer feeling faded oh so fast/Anticipating what winter demands…We walk silent/As the trees get undressed/They reveal to us nothing hides nothing lasts…” may seems solemn but in fact with the music, they seem to hold another meaning. Winter isn’t seen as the cold, depressing month here, it’s seen as the transition period. The music and the harmonies help to keep those images of fading summer evenings fresh – you could say this song is more a celebration of a lovely summer rather than a moan about the winter weather.

Yesway have produced an utterly mind blowing album. As said, there isn’t a track on the record that lowers the standard – every track is a highlight. This is a must have album for 2014 without a doubt. Yesway’s new album is out now.

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Mark Barrott – Sketches From An Island Album Review

Mark Barrott’s newest album Sketches From An Island compresses this Balearic heartbeat into nine warm gems which paint a picture of the island, the people and the magnetic beauty that pulses through it.

Barrott himself is a man of serious musical pedigree. He founded the highly-respected International Feellabel in 2008 after moving to Uruguay, where his A&Ring tempted the elusive DJ Harvey out of studio retirement which he followed with new work from artists like Quiet Village, Gatto Fritto and the Italian cosmic disco don Daniele Baldelli.

Recorded in Ibiza’s northern hills using “weird percussion, some slide guitars and a few borrowed synths,” Sketches is a melodic and mysterious representation of a place seeped in a rich and rebellious history. Or as original Café Del Mar’s José Padilla, has it: “This is what I call Balearic.”

Baby Come Home kick starts the record with its summery, repetitive melody that allows this to become one hell of a soothing track. It has funk influences heard in the guitar riff while the natural sounds, such as the pipes, allow this song to let you feel free and careless.

Dr Nimm’s Garden Of Intrigue & Delight is very experimental and has a distinctly sci-fi feel to it. There’s psychedelic elements which make it atmospheric. Dr Nimm’s has a heavy electronic feel to it in comparison to Baby Come Home due to the use of lots of synths. Barrott has added natural sounds such as birds tweeting, the sound of waves etc that all compliment the title of the song – this idea of a wonderful, colourful, exotic garden of tranquillity and wonder.

Go Berri Be Happy changes the tone of the album entirely. This song has folk influences and lends itself to sound a little Laura Marling in places but without vocals. It gradually develops into the sort of track you hear on those chill out compilations. It’s soothing, sensuous and sparkling.

Deep Water introduces more World influences than heard in the previous tracks on the record. It starts with a meditative continuous sound and soft chimes blended with the sound of waves crashing gently on the shore. Gradually the pan pipes and the African drum come in giving this track a deep, meditative effect on the brain. Your muscles release as you listen, your mind pictures that perfect beach with light blue, warm sea to dive in and a smile creeps onto your face. It’s the perfect summer track. It’s the perfect track for your secluded island break.

Sacred Islands finishes off the album leaving the listener with a steady mind and calm breath. The sounds of birds are the only thing heard to start with before the soft piano steps in alongside the strings. Sacred Islands builds slowly and with each new note or instrument, the listener becomes more settled. The song ends with the natural sounds of birds singing and tweeting – what else could you ask for to keep you calm and happy?

Mark Barrott’s Skecthes From An Island is a cracking album for your summer. If you’re looking for chill out music that keeps you dreaming of hot weather, beautiful beaches and good times, look no further. This is the album for you. Sketches From An Island is out now.

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VTCN Radio Release Two New Singles, Holy Frank And Jean Moulin

VTCN Radio (pronounced Vatican Radio) is a Parisian duo doing experimental electronic music that drench you in a dark and melancholic atmosphere emancipated from genres.

Their first single Riddle Song was released last month and was well received. The track was relayed by media such as Radio Nova, The 405, We Are The Mascotte Magazine, Nylon Guys Magazine and Earbuddy, to name a few

Now VTCN Radio have just released two brand new tracks, Holy Frank and Jean Moulin, a tribute to the high-profile member of the French Resistance during World War II.

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Amen Dunes – Love Album Review

Amen Dunes releases his latest album, Love, today via Sacred Bones.

The new album is McMahon’s most focused and ambitious work yet. Amen Dunes has always been rooted in traditional song and sound but Love is his first work in which this so clearly shines through. The guiding influence of Astral Weeks, Sam Cooke, Tim Hardin, Marvin Gaye, Hector Lavoe and the cosmic non-verbal mediations of Leon Thomas, all kept vigil over the song writing of Love and the spirit of late 60’s/early 70’s spiritual jazz of Pharaoh Sanders and Alice Coltrane channelled the sound. These are elemental songs about time, love and memory as much about the listener as they are about the writer: pure, open and beautiful.

Amen Dunes

Amen Dunes

Where the previous Amen Dunes records – D.I.A. (Locust Music, 2009), Murder Dull Mind EP (Sacred Bones, July 2010) and Through Donkey Jaw (Sacred Bones, August 2011) — had all been largely improvisational first-take affairs recorded in a matter of weeks at most, Love is the product of close to a year and a half of continuous work. As McMahon began to flesh out the new material, he found himself guided by the aforementioned work of classic American singers and songs more strongly than on any previous Amen Dunes record. And unlike the earlier recordings of McMahon’s, which were almost always a solo affair, the music on Love was performed by a variety of musicians, centred around the core trio and symbiotic interplay of McMahon and his long-standing collaborators, Jordi Wheeler (guitar and piano) and Parker Kindred (drums).

Eager to capture a musical feeling outside the confines of New York City, McMahon chose to hold the main recording sessions in Montreal with Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. In addition to recording the sessions that McMahon produced, members of Godspeed also played on several of the songs along with Colin Stetson on saxophone and several other Montreal musicians. The remainder of the recordings took place back in Brooklyn at Strange Weather and Trout Recording and featured additional performances by a handful of musicians including Elias Bender Ronnenfelt of Iceage and Vår who duets with McMahon on Green Eyes and is featured on first single, Lonely Richard.

White Child is the introductory track to the sound of this record. There are a blend of influences including folk, rock and Blues. The vocals are scratchy and slightly untuneful but they somehow make this song what it is. White Child features a repetitive droning sound in the background making it atmospheric and solemn. The acoustic guitar has a very raw sound to it allowing this song to sound like it’s been recorded in someone’s bedroom on a whim. The music is simple, the song is simple; it’s captivating. This song sets the tone for the rest of the record.

Splits Are Parted is a dramatic, acoustic and atmospheric track with electronics helping to add the soundscape style. The whole track sounds distant, like a far-away, pleasant noise. Vocally, this song is quite experimental showing off McMahon’s strong vocals. They are unusual and unique – vocals that definitely stand out among the crowd. There’s a sense of desperation in his voice when he sings, “Oh I could love you/I could make it easy” which draws the listener in.

Sixteen is steps away from the heavy acoustic guitar used throughout the previous tracks and starts to lean the album towards the use of the piano. Sixteen is more uplifting; it has a fresher sound. This track also allows the vocals to be heard clearly in comparison to the other tracks on the record. It’s an impressively simple and stylish track.

Rocket Flare introduces an entirely different feel to Love. There are Jeff Buckley inspired electric guitar riffs, a soulful melody runs throughout this track while the vocals feel soft and pleasant on the ears.

I Know Myself sounds like it could easily be a Cat Stevens track. Everything about this track makes it sound like it’s stepped straight out of the 70s. It’s soulful, slow and seductive, “It takes a lot babe/I know myself/After this time I’m going to someone else/Feel uncertain…”

Title track Love sees the piano take on a new solo piece with world influences being heard in the drumming. Love features deep drum beats which have a distinctly Indian, almost Tabla like, style. Love blends a mixture of unusual elements together to make a perfectly, peculiar track.

Previous singles Lonely Richard, Lilac In Hand and I Can’t Dig It also feature on this record.

Love is out today via Sacred Bones.

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Introducing…VTCN Radio

VTCN Radio (pronounced Vatican Radio) is a Parisian duo of experimental electronic music inspired by the romantic music, CAN and Kubrick movies.

VTCN Radio

VTCN Radio

Using analog synthesisers, recorded sounds and machines amateurs, they drench you in a unique and intimate atmosphere emancipated from genres and influences where each track has its own story.

VTCN Radio have just released their debut single Riddle Song. Riddle Song combines soulful, indecipherable vocals with Bonobo style beats. It’s a relaxing number with slow, comforting grooves.

 

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Introducing…Masters

A hallucinatory soundtrack to mystical western, Acid Witch Mountain, the debut album from Masters, summons sharp guitars, bright brass and atypical percussions in an instrumental ritual between rock and experimentation. The project was conceived by London based artists and former Agaskodo Teliverek members Christos Fanaras and M.K. Hauser aka Miklos Kemecsi. It is now due to be released in April 2014 in the form of a double vinyl album as a co-release between Adaadat and Ego Twister.

Masters

Masters

Miklos Kemecsi is of Hungarian and Swedish descent, he formed art rock outfit Agaskodo Teliverek in 2005. They went on to release two albums and a seven inch on Adaadat and extensively toured the UK and Europe sharing the stage with acts like Les Georges Leningrad, Trencher, DAT Politics, Kap Bambino, J.G. Thirlwell, Max Tundra and Lightning Bolt, culminating in a performance supporting Siouxsie Sioux at the BBC Electric Proms in 2007.

Christos Fanaras originally from Greece has been performing under the name Jack Shirt since 2006 and has recorded and released seven solo CDR albums on his own imprint Down Is Up. He also played bass guitar in Agaskodo Teliverek, bass and synth in Mothlite, drums in hypnagogic anti-band Temper Temper and is currently a member of Moon Ra.

Acid Witch Mountain features guest appearances from Thomas Fuglesang (Gum Takes Tooth), Simon Balthazar and Leon Beckingham (Fanfarlo), Joel Cahen (Newtoy), Kenichi Iwasa (Blood Music/Chrome Hoof), David Aird (Vindicatrix), Achilleas A (The Dandy Warhols) and Daniel Lea (Golden Hum).

You can listen to snippet here.

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Grayson Gilmour’s New Album, Infinite Life!, Out Now

Infinite Life! is the fifth offering from Wellington musician Grayson Gilmour.

Enveloping listeners in sultry layers of vocals, smooth strings and intricate off kilter rhythms, Grayson Gilmour’s new album, Infinite Life!, combines warm pop songs with experimental beats, textures and weird loops.

Following his 2010 album No Constellation, Grayson receded to underground bank vaults and windy attics to record before whittling his ideas into 13 tracks. All the while Gilmour was piecing together film scores, touring overseas with his band So So Modern and attending the Red Bull Music Academy.

Grayson Gilmour Infinite Life!

Grayson Gilmour’s Infinite Life! album artwork

Recent singles, Lichtung and Minus Times Infinity (the video for which was selected for the BBC Music Video Festival) give a hint of an album filled with both immediately catchy melodies along with odd sounds.

And if that doesn’t grab you, why not judge Gilmour on the company he keeps? Infinite Life! sees visual collaborations with NZ illustrator Henrietta Harris (cover artwork) and video director Jesse Taylor Smith (Pond, Autumn Splendour) along with appearances from Claire Duncan (Dear Times Waste), cellist Charlie Davenport and drummer Reece McNaughten.

Plus, because we all love vinyl, Flying Nun Records have been fund raising to help get the album pressed to LP. And in good news, they are three quarters of the way to their target. Follow this link here for more information about the vinyl pre-orders and range of packages available.

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