Monthly playlist-Favourite albums March 2019

Posted: 15th April 2019 by blaue-rosen in Music News,press releases
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“I believe in empty spaces, they are the most wonderful thing”-Anselm Kiefer

March was a month whose sonic footprint was mostly industrial and darkwave. We listened to 75 independent music releases during last month and the ones that had the strongest impact on us had a heavy and melodic sound. There were albums that had as their starting point ideas around the preservation of the environment and others that found inspiration in alchemical processes and psychedelic states of mind. We equally enjoyed the few but precious releases that had more evidently punk rhythms and aesthetics as well as those ones where the synthesizers were creating a melodic and captivating sonic trail that we absolutely had to follow…

Let’s start by talking about the album that was truly invigorating to be listening to. This was no other than the beautiful new release by Snapped Ankles, entitled ‘Stunning Luxury‘. The band has chosen as a title for this second album, a phrase that refers to property developers and pursuers of luxury flats “…who heat the market on the promise of Stunning Luxury…” . Listening to it was a truly refreshing experience. You will enjoy krautrock elements, magnetizing percussion rhythms that are being ‘interrupted’ by discreet and recognizable trumpet sounds, snippets with stronger rock ‘n’ roll even NDW aesthetics, keyboards in a playful mood, all on a mission to create a rather sassy sound. The playful and ‘funky’ attitude that the band has carried through is also evident from the way this album sometimes reveals its more industrial heavy side and after 2′ all this has been transformed into a punk party. We loved the great rhythms and melodies that are taken up by a variety of instruments and the vocals alike. An album with amazing energy from start to finish!

Jinx, a new band from Denmark, is following unwittingly the great energy of the Snapped Ankles album, with the release of their debut EP entitled ‘JINX‘. We loved the angry and vindictive vocals and the guitar riffs that envelop them with an electrifying energy which sometimes is as clear as a direct current and before the next verse, they ‘turn’ their noisier more distorted ‘face’ to us. We cannot wait to listen to more music from JINX in the future. Whether it will be the post punk rhythms or the determination of the voice that will impress you more, the only sure thing is that you will play this EP again, a few times.

The releases by Der Klinke, Desolation Years, Amnistia, Datura, Bring Her, Undertheskin, Closed Mouth are all excellent examples of darkwave music with discernible qualities between them. Der Klinke, with their album appropriately entitled ‘Decade‘, are celebrating the first 10 years of their career. The album that was also available in a very limited (100 copies) edition, contains songs from all the previous releases of the band as well as new ones. This band whose sound nods to Sisters of Mercy as well as to the early sound of Diary of Dreams and She Wants Revenge, has offered us albums filled with imagery of gothic aesthetics and poetic lyrics.Making sure that all their albums always have a great production where the sound of all instruments and the vocals has a great volume, Der Klinke are already making us wait impatiently for their next major release. Listening to this album’s editions of older songs alongside new ones ‘seals’ the great emotional impact that the music of this band has had so far. In the meantime, they will perform live at this year’s W-Festival. For their debut EP entitled ‘Desolation Years‘, the band Desolation Years seem to have been inspired by the synth rhythms of 80s pop and synthpop music. These rhythms have been given darker sonic colors as the band channeled through discreet influences from the sound of Static Movement and the Frozen Autumn alike. AMNISTIA‘s new album entitled ‘Black Halo‘ has a heavier sound  with a more distinct industrial character that brought to mind the memorable minimalism of Skinny Puppy’s early releases. The lyrics of this album include references to the loss of freedom as a result of racism, to the destruction of the environment,to fake news and populism which are enveloped by ‘dry’ and assertive rhythms; which in turn, are made ‘lighter’ through minimal synth melodies with a great flow and an energy that activates all the parts of our minds as if a carefully designed ‘current’ has been targeting them. The debut album of Datura entitled ‘Orphans‘ will be appealing, without a doubt, to the fans of Cure and especially of their guitar riffs! This is an impressive debut release through which the band is introducing itself using a cover with occult aesthetics and four songs that share the fierceness of the Sex Pistols and the ‘cold’ heavier melodies that characterize  dark post punk music. We hope to see them perform live in London and we cannot wait to listen to their next release. 

We equally enjoyed listening to the impressive debut album by Bring Her, entitled ‘Bring Her‘. We noticed and were captivated by the mystifying, eerie, ‘menacing’ atmosphere that the reverberating vocals and the distorted guitars together with the synthesizers are creating throughout this album. It was the sound of Untoten as well as the aesthetics of Xmal Deutschland that came to mind as the sound of this album unveiled itself. With a sound that nods to Soft Moon and Cure, Undertheskin‘s new album entitled  ‘N E G A T I V E‘ is a fine example of throbbing post punk music. We loved the electrifying guitars which come to the foreground and create a sonic maze that feels helical in shape and mesmerizing in nature. Closed Mouth‘s debut album entitled ‘[ONE] ‘transfers some of the magic that Clan of Xymox have created in their earlier releases, using guitar riffs that have a sound similar to the one created by thin brushes that disturb a surface’s upper layer. The guitar and the synthesizers are the protagonists of the eerie soundscape that envelops the vocals as the atmosphere unfolds its invigorating and inescapably melancholic and hypnotizing characteristics.

The releases of Galatée, Iamnoone, Blind Delon , Dancing Plague and The Golden Filter, represent the more ethereal and minimal side of synthwave  and post punk. Galatée’s new album entitled ‘World On Fire‘ follows the dreamy aesthetics of their previous releases by making the synthesizers, the protagonists of their melancholic melodies as the drum machine becomes the ‘grounding’ force in this album. We found the pop rhythms of ‘Boredom Dance‘ to be a quite humourous critique to the mainstream pop.Despite the fact that this album has no vocals and at times its sound is quite ‘thin’, the melodies are taking us on a journey that can end by choosing to watch an older film by Jean-Luc Godard… Iamnoone a.k.a Filippo Marlat Galleani has introduced himself with a debut EP entitled ‘DVPLEX‘ whose rhythms and melodies nod to Joy Division. In the melancholy of the 6 songs that this EP contains we got a glimpse of what Iamnoone will be exploring in the future and the aesthetics that has inspired this project. The cd that is now sold out, came with a wax seal at the back. The Golden Filter‘s EP entitled ‘Restraint‘ has a more industrial sound than the previously mentioned releases. We loved the minimalism of its rhythms, the coldwave aesthetics and the staccato rhythms of the vocals.In the synth melodies that are coming to the foreground throughout this album, we recognized discreet references to the sound of Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre. Blind Delon‘s debut album entitled ‘Discipline‘ is comprised of 6 lengthy tracks that share some qualities with the melancholic soundscapes of Kavinsky. Each track develops slowly by adding volume and rhythms to the synth melodies and thus creating a meditational atmosphere, a place where the mind can feel at ease making conceptual trips.Finally, Dancing Plagues‘ EP entitled ‘Sulker‘ makes us remember what we love about minimal coldwave rhythms. However, it is actually the passion and theatricality of the vocals and the dramatic delivery of the lyrics that give to the songs vivid sonic colours. Even though the band claims that its “…music is fitted with an exoskeleton of darkness that shields any and all light from entering…” we often found ourselves creating very powerful, conceptually illuminating mental images as a result of the beautiful vocals.

The ceremonial, dark, alchemical part of this month’s soundtrack is represented through the releases of Word Made Flesh, Ancestral Voices, Dren, Giuseppe Falivene, TOKEE &Autoclav1.1, and DAMSELFLY . Making one of the most inspiring collaborations of this year, TOKEE and Autoclav1.1 have released the joint EP entitled ‘Timeless Collaborated‘ “…working as one to create seven complex and emotive electronic music tracks, without walls, constraints or concept…” and allowed us to enjoy and dance to the mind-freeing qualities of melodic IDM with rich sonic texture. Having the signature production of TOKEE, this EP allows us to be enveloped in moments of heaviness, moments of sonic suspension while brief melodies, blasts and passing electrifying sounds find ways to ‘break’ the syncopated, industrial ‘walls’ that are being ‘built’ in front of them. Following his previous striking release, Word Made Flesh has returned with an album that hisses, throbs, encircles, magnetizes and captures. ‘Everything and Nothing‘ which has been released through Armalyte Industries can only be listened to from start to finish using a great sound system that would allow you to completely lose yourself in the cryptic atmosphere that its heavy sounds are creating. A sound with a lot of volume and a conceptual strangeness characterizes the industrial, slow moving, distorted soundscapes of this album. It would be a mistake not to mention the truly beautiful production that creates a cinematic atmosphere which will definitely keep your mind at a suspended position for its duration. Following similar references, the album ‘Navagraha‘ by Ancestral Voices, takes its title from the word that describes “…’nine celestial bodies’ in Sanskrit. Each ‘Graha’ is a specific vibration and relates to the nine planets of our solar system, as well as the different parts of our body…” and having being inspired by Hans Cousto’s natural law of cosmic octave “…has taken Hans Cousto’s ‘frequency’of each planet and created a unique tuning system which he uses for each track. The result is a mixture of Ptolemaic, Pythagorean and other ‘Alternate’ Harmonic scales that can create a profound effect on the consciousness of the listener. Steering away from equal temperament opens up an infinite amount of possibilities and more ‘colours’ to paint the picture with.” We are being taken on dark ambient, tribal, reverberating trip that makes us think about cosmic forces and the world outside our everyday lives. DAMSELFLY‘s new EP entitled ‘The Yeoman’s Tears‘ is the soundtrack of an imaginary Sussex soldier’s return from The Great War. Using the word ‘Yeoman’ in the title, gives away the subject of this EP, as this is a military term as well as one that described a member of the noble social class. By weaving a melancholic, dreamy sound, DAMSELFLY explores the darkest parts of this character’s psyche, those areas where thoughts cannot take a concrete form in order to be expressed. Even though Darren always creates cryptic sonic spaces, in this release he also gave to us a glimpse of his even more sinister, heavy and noisy sides. Speaking about mystifying sounds, DREN‘s debut album entitled ‘time&form‘ creates the kind of downtempo, heavy atmosphere that would ideally accompany a walk in the woods under an overcast sky. The ceremonial and tribal elements of DREN’s rhythmic pulsations will most definitely make you feel as if something has made a strong grip on your psyche. Deconstructive in aesthetics and kaleidoscopic in style, the EP ‘Air Chronicles‘ by Giuseppe Falivene draws a noisy, seemingly fragile, industrial sonic path, which he ‘dares’ us to traverse. Whether the sounds that resemble distorted vocals or not, are a result of creative hallucinatory trips from our part or actual vocals, is a riddle that we should solve.

There were two releases that blended inspirations from the passionate dark folk compositions of Nick Cave with trippy psych rock rhythms. Offering their own creative takes and transcending their initial reference points, The Underground Youth and CROWS have released two beautiful albums. In ‘Montage Images of Lust&Fear‘, The Underground Youth, take rock guitar riffs and magically turn them around and transform them into transmitters of a grinding, distorted, psychedelic message. On them, the vocals create emotional vibrations through their passionate outbreaks that disturb the fragile and precarious calmness that preceded. This is the first album in which the vocals challenged the more ‘dreamy’ aesthetics that they revealed in the band’s earlier releases and the rhythms and melodies multiplied their dynamism and strength so much, that the whole performance feels more personal and therefore touches our minds even more. CROWS released a beautiful debut album entitled ‘Silver Tongues‘. This is psych rock and punk rock music at one of its finest moments with assertive vocals, grinding guitar riffs that feel like motorized parts on a trance and a cover that is an ode to surrealism. We will welcome the band in its first visit in London’s ‘The Dome’ soon and we cannot wait to enjoy their songs live.

Metal music is represented by the debut EP by AORATOS entitled ‘Gods Without Name‘. This is a very atmospheric album where the vocals are being treated as one more instrument while, they bring out all their desperation and darkness. There are moments where the harshness of the rhythms recedes and the atmosphere becomes much more ritualistic while the sound is more evidently dark ambient in aesthetics.I loved the layering of the guitars and the way they alternate their position between the background where they create a noisy pulsating ‘wall’ and the foreground where they deliver some really unexpected brief melodic intervals.

The soundtrack of last month concludes with four releases that make a trip from serene dark folk areas to heavy psych rock ones. Saturnales, Isahia, HENGE, and Mammoth the Weed Wizard Bastard offered captivating albums that ‘sealed’ the sonic imprint that this month’s releases have left. The album of Saturnales entitled ‘Foresgue‘ has conceptual/aesthetic influences rooted in nature and its powers. It is an album parts of which have been recorded at Valmasque forest at Vallisbona, between Ostara and Litha MMXVIII. The dark folk, ritualistic rhythms bring with them all these subtle but very distinct sounds that one encounters in nature and ‘dresses’ them with gentle melodies from flutes, horns and ocarinas. Fans of Wardruna will definitely love this album.This is the soundtrack of our escape for our busy lives and the chaotic cityscapes.

ISAHIA‘s debut album entitled ‘Sketches of Pain‘ has also been inspired by nature and its forces but is also highlighting the political aspects surrounding its control and destruction through sound. We read that the sample we listen to in the song ‘White Man’s Long Shadow‘ is from “…a speech that was given by Bill Wilson at the federal-provincial conference of first ministers on Aboriginal constitutional matters in 1983 in Ottawa, Canada…“. The album’s music soundscapes revolve around concerns regarding man’s attitude towards animals so in one song there are excerpts from “… an interview of a slaughterhouse worker transcribed by Bob Torres in “making a killing – the political economy of animal rights“. While there are parts where the guitar riffs sway towards metal music aesthetics, the dark, post rock ballads that ISAHIA have composed represent the conceptual ‘weight’ that mankind’s decisions and actions bring with them throughout its existence.

The albums ‘Nothing Head’ and ‘Yn Ol I Annwn‘ by HENGE and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard can be listened to together if you dare…!’Nothing Head‘ starts this sonic trip by building up the heaviness from metal-inspired guitar riffs and vocals and krautrock snippets. The cumulative effect that the heavy psych rock sonic behemoths that Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard unleash on our minds, will make you question the existence of this very galaxy. With an equally evocative title which means ‘Return To The Underground’ in Welsh, be sure that the ethereal vocals the appear and fade away throughout this album will place your mind into a post apocalyptic, hallucinatory state…if you let them!

Whether you think that this playlist creates a conceptually ’empty’ space, an area of endless possibilities or not in the spirit of Anselm Kiefer’s quote, we do hope that you enjoy it!

 

 

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