"I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression…" Dylan Thomas
Some people say that it's best not to expect much so that when good things happen you get to experience the full extent of the positivity they bring with them. Well something similar happened with the releases of April 2018. We already knew about the new albums that were being prepared by well-established bands, but it was actually those less (or not at all) advertised releases, that we have found by exploring the music milieu, that excited us even more. This month had it all, progressive rock, metal, post punk, industrial, IDM, ethereal, darkwave, punk and genre-defying weirdness… for the 'beast', the 'angel' and/or the 'madman' in you!
First of all, a month in which The Damned add another chapter in their astonishing career, is a special month of a year. Of course if you have seen the band perform live during the last few years you will have experienced first-hand its excellent shape, so the release of a new album should come as no surprise at all. 'Evil Spirits', finds its place comfortably within the band's discography and takes us back to the years of 'Strawberries'. The album will be presented during the band's tour that starts in May and no one would want to miss their unforgettable shows
We have been waiting for the release of 'Pinned' by A Place To Bury Strangers for a few months. The band that has replaced Roby Gonzales with Lia Simon Braswell at the drums, had teased us by revealing a custom made piece of equipment which, as the album proves, has delivered the noisy, disorienting, distorted background that it promised to. This album is lighter in mood and more punk, compared to 'Transfixation' that was an album with a strong psych rock character. 'Pinned' includes a few rock elements in its sound as well, but it breaks away from the 'expected' character of an indie album both in terms of style and in terms of rhythms and delivery of the lyrics. I was surprised to see that it has even brought to mind the sound of Cabaret Voltaire at times.
The IDM/electronic releases of this month, courtesy of Phillip Münch,Michael Idehall, Blac Kolor, Sylvgeist Mäelström, Attraktta and Morah were not only loved for their full bodied rhythms but also for injecting those rhythms with tribal, industrial, psych trance, noise ceremonial even dark ambient and dark electronic elements. While listening to 'Greyscale', 'Prophecies of The Storm', 'Awakening', 'Norillag','Ursa Major'and the debut album of Attraktta entitled 'Massive Irretrievable Data Loss' you will most certainly find yourselves dancing but you might also identify discreet influences from the sound of Neubauten and DAF (in 'Greyscale'), Elijah's Mantle and Lustmord (in 'Prophcies Of The Storm').Staying at the electronic music genre, do you remember Baldruin from our monthly playlist of May 2017? Well, the band has 'struck' again this year, with their album entitled 'Vergessene Träume'. This album is evidently less dark in atmosphere, more melodic than the previous one, as it more evidently explores the deconstructive properties of minimal electronic and modern classical music.Following a similar line of thought, DAMSELFLY has released a collection of instrumental tracks that were not included in the album entitled 'An Awkward Bow' (also in our monthly playlist for January 2018).This collection which seems inspired by nature and its transformations as they register in the landscape of Sussex, is entitled 'Beneath The Rose' and its sound is both suggestive in style and ambient in aesthetics, while it also reveals its dark 'colours' at times. The richness and depth of the sound is so beautiful that I could feel each little sound animating a different side of my brain.
The albums of this month that could be positioned within the wider psych rock genre, have focused on the dreamlike qualities of this style. First of all, the EP 'The Tunnel' by Legendary Pink Dots, works as a gothic lullaby for the darkest hours of the day and disquietly 'warns' us of the colourful, exciting things to come… Legendary Pink Dots seem to have influenced the sound of Doors In the Labyrinth as is reflected in the aesthetics of their demo entitled 'Our Old Café'. At the same time Blackwater Holylight in their beautiful album entitled 'Blackwater Holylight', refer to the more typical side of psych rock as it was represented in the late 1960s through the repetition of trippy slow rhythms and melodies with added heaviness. MIEN in their debut album 'MIEN', opted for a more Sonic Youth/krautrock type of sound.
We loved the atmosphere of the new album by Eels, entitled 'The Deconstruction' because the band has made space for a video of gothic aesthetic, that brought to mind Tim Burton's movies, because of the 'smoked' vocals and their aesthetic that brought to mind Tom Waits and Mark Lanegan and because it is an album that made a nice stylistic 'interval' around the middle, with a more blues inspired song.Two albums of the previous month's releases revealed the inspirational sides of the musicians behind them. Both defy categorisation and require your undivided attention, the one for being utterly experimental and the other for offering a beautiful synthesis of different elements. I am talking about the albums by Élg and Getulio Silenzio, entitled 'Vu Du Dôme' and 'Pesadelo' respectively. 'Vu Du Dôme' is an album that proves how a minimal deconstructed rhythm can have punk and even noise sides to it.This could be the perfect soundtrack to put on for trying automatic writing. 'Pesadelo', the debut album of Getulio Silenzio, has an underlying melancholy which, the gentle melodies, manage to ascribe to it ceremonial and even neoclassical qualities.
Speaking of neoclassical music, it was a big surprise to listen to the debut album by Poisoned Tears entitled 'Sleep in Spleen'. This is because, it is an album that is allegedly unmastered (it is a real challenge to find any 'flaws' in the quality of the sound, especially compared to some other albums which have been mastered) and also because the band has incorporated medieval folk music elements in the songs throughout this album. Whether listening to a song with post punk rhythms and aesthetics or another more electronic one, the way the medieval-folk element finds an outlet each time, is really inspiring.
The conceptually and emotionally heavier release of this month was courtesy of MØL, who in their debut album entitled 'Jord' injected melodies inside an otherwise black-metal sonic environment. I really loved this album because it dared to look at the genre in a new way.
The sound of Bob Dylan and the wider genre of folk rock seem to have inspired the albums of Trent Miler and Peter Harris in their albums 'Time Between Us' and 'Adverts'. These are two albums that are perfect for times when things around just get too 'noisy' and particularly unpleasant. Trent Miller's voice has even made me put on Elvis Costello afterwards, while the melodies and the gentleness of the melodies in Peter Harris' music, just find and strike all the emotional chords as well-hidden as you think they are.
Grandeur, Second Still, Sophya and OLMS did not just write your typical post punk, coldwave music.Grandeur have released different songs in soundcloud within the month and compared to their older songs, these recent ones, have more prominent metal rock influences in the guitar riffs. It is evident that the band explored different avenues, without abandoning the more typical post punk guitar/bass rhythms. Moreover, the sound has become more refined, the nice melodies that this band has been writing are still there and their more electronic side has also been explored. We will be waiting to see how the sound of this band will evolve in the future. Second Still have released their EP entitled 'Equals' which feels less dark than their debut album and the rhythms and vocals are more typically coldwave than what the band has offered us in their very first album.Sophya on the other hand, have released a beautiful album which blends dream pop with post punk in inspiring ways. 'Broken Mirrors' starts with a track that could have been written by Kraftwerk, while the influence of the sound of The Cure seems to be traversing the guitar/bass riffs throughout this album. The album has a unique post punk character as the band did not hesitate to experiment with the music by adding to it various textures and dynamics.OLMS from Detroit, created a 'thick', noisy, hallucinatory, atmosphere with their album 'The Cover-Up'. Whether you are more drawn to the more energetic songs where 'muffled' synth rhythms juxtapose nicely with the motivational drums or to the seemingly slower paced noisy tracks, you will most likely feel as if you are in an environment filled with thick smoke…
I loved the 'smoked' vocals, the warmth and the dreamy, ethereal soundscape in the album 'Recognitions' of Exitmusic.The music even brought to mind something from the sound of Concrete Blonde, and Nirvana combined, while being uniquely melancholic, in a way that could be compared to the style of Chrysta Bell. The resulting sound could not have been more atmospheric so this band deserves all the support you can give them.
Three albums could not be grouped with the rest, the two for being classified as punk with the wider meaning of the word and the other for offering a not so typical electronica sound. We refer of course to the single 'I Like The Way You Bleed' by The Dirty Horror, a motivational track with beautiful 'dirty' noisy sonic background and and the beautiful debut album of Arndales entitled 'Shops' which, at times nods to Sex Pistols through its guitar riffs and vocals but ultimately presents its own disquiet and lyrical version of punk music through 10 addictive songs whose energy will remain imprinted on your soul for hours.The last album was the beautiful debut of Perel, entitled 'Hermetica'. In 'Hermetica' you will find, funky, ambient and post punk sonic fragments that, first of all, will not allow you to sit down on your chair and secondly will make your mind start navigating to different universes… The way this album manages to slip away from mainstream electronica is remarkable. The dark aesthetics of the vocals, are the 'cherry on the top' as they give life to the underlying darkness of this album as hinted by the synth melodies.
So,whether this playlist appeals more to the angel, the beast or the madman in you…enjoy it to the fullest!