Monthly playlist-Favourite albums May 2019

Posted: 1st July 2019 by blaue-rosen in Music News,press releases
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“In a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom”-J.G Ballard


logo playlistMay 2019 was a very rich month in terms of the album releases that saw the light of day, and our monthly playlist is reflecting the polyphony and the many sides of sonic experimentation that we encountered in these albums. Clearly, all the musicians have been inspired by different concepts, places, emotions, and worldwide developments and channeled their responses to all these using creativity and the kind of ‘madness’ J.G Ballard is talking about…

Our playlist this month is guided by two releases, the collaborative album of Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith entitled ‘The Peyote Dance‘ and the collection of Johny Brown‘s ‘Slurred Words‘. Patti Smith is not collaborating for the first time with Soundwalk Collective, but it is the first time, all these musicians work together to transfer Antonin Artaud’s book entitled ‘The Peyote Dance’ into music. The album was released through Bella Union and should really be approached in the same way one attends a theatrical play. Having as a starting point Artaud’s book with the same title, this album is really a call of discovery. Listening to this album while exploring a new place, might be the only way to listen to it and carry something from its spirit through. Artaud himself wrote the book after his travel to Mexico and Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith as if re-tracing his steps, recorded this album in Mexico at the Abyssinian Valley of Ethiopia and Himalayan Summit of India. It is now our turn to continue its journey that starts with the idea of interconnectivity between the natural and the man-made worlds. A few minutes in the album, it becomes evident that it is truly an organic piece. The volume of sounds, Patti Smith’s directness, the inspiring way in which the sonic improvisation follows the words and tempts them out of their temporary comfort zones, are elements that make sure that our immersion in this mental trip is absolute. Patti Smith’s voice as a conduit of (not only) Artaud’s energy but also of her own spirituality, gives to each word, an unparalleled strength while the saxophone is playing all sorts of rhythmic tricks and ‘hide and seek’ sonic games with harmony and lyricism. We could write many pages about the way the sound of ‘The Peyote Dance’ awakens the listener and makes them experience things throughout its duration. Instead, we will repeat our suggestion, to listen to this album while navigating an unknown place…

As if some intergalactic elements were aligned, Johny Brown followed a similar spiritual path, having been inspired by all the surreal, unreal, even too real, circumstances that have been experienced inside and outside of London. The result is a truly undefinable album entitled ‘Slurred Words‘ which resembles the outcome of automatic writing and sometimes brings to mind the dramatic existential fragility of Dylan Thomas. You can approach this album in the same way you read poetry, and while enjoying the power of the verses, ponder the meaning of the explanatory note that accompanies this release where music only makes an appearance at the very last track. The note reads as follows: “Not poetry, no prose, nor spoken word, just words slurred, slurred words…“.

If these two albums managed to get you into an eerie place, then, in my opinion, you are in the best place to appreciate Holy Magick‘s dream rock, slow-moving, lyrical psychedelia, at all its glory. Holy Magick is Dom Keen (ex. Death In Vegas), Siobhan Lynch (Recoil), Steve Ingham (drums), Luis Bradshaw (bass), Lewis Magill (guitar) and Thom Carter (keyboards). The band’s incredible debut entitled ‘Holy Magick‘ has (naturally) a mushroom as its cover and at some point, it nods to Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’. Of course when one mixes some Death In Vegas magic with Recoil’s sonic sensuality, then what must come out, is definitely a great recipe for some very powerful self-induced mind trips. This is a fantastic album that inflicts bursts of uncontestable melancholy, skillfully placed inside an attractive dreamy atmosphere.

Post-rock, ‘complaint’ rock (as GREYS characterize their sound) or whichever other combination of words, one uses to describe relentless melancholic, dystopian yet very atmospheric sonic experimentation, ‘resides’ in a dark place and is preoccupied with translating into music, strong concepts that can motivate us to treat important aspects of our lives differently. The debut album of the new collaborative project between Efrim Menueck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor)and Kevin Doria (Total Life) is called SING SINCK, SING. Their debut album also entitled ‘SING SINCK, SING‘ is one of these releases that has as a starting point, an individual, which in this case is no other than Dirk Hugsam. Using visuals with powerful symbolic meaning and a sound that is organic in its structure and numbing in its atmosphere, the band manages to keep us in a state of uncomfortable spiritual suspense. The vocals are treated as an additional instrument throughout this album, so as to increase the feeling of eeriness of the sonic environment that is being created. This album that was written in Mexico, is introducing the band with 5 songs which they describe as: “…an antifascist, poetics of sound…“. ‘Age Hasn’t Spoiled You‘ by GREYS, is equally organic in its structure and feels as if it has traversed the sonic landscape of SING SINCK, SING. The sound of this album ‘occupies’ a wilder place filled with high-pitched vibrations, low pitched distortions, vocal whispers and rhythms which constantly challenge the ones that came before them. Do not be ‘fooled’ if you hear no distortion in the vocals, the essence of this album is in the sonic atmosphere that surrounds the vocals. The image of melted clocks, seen in Dali’s paintings has come to mind when listening to the unique sound that comes out of the musical instruments used in this album! You might feel at times, as if the melodies of Air, Nirvana or even Massive Attack are being whispered to you while listening to this album, but you will soon find out that all these perceptions have been challenged. Shehzaad Jiwani 9vocals) has said about this album: “We wanted to push as far away from what our perception of a ‘rock band’ could be while still retaining certain characteristics that sound like Greys…” and we think that they have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of what is possible while staying true to their musical personalities.

Death and Vanilla‘s dream pop lyricism, or else, their new album entitled ‘Are You A Dreamer?‘, is actually a space of light or lightheadedness, compared to the heaviness that has preceded it inside our monthly playlist and as such, it will fill your mind with creative and calming thoughts.

DAMSELFLY‘s new album is entitled ‘In Southern D^rkness‘ and makes a mystical sonic journey, a collection of ‘…post rave elegies…‘ as Darren himself describes his music. It is an instrumental album that offers already so much, that vocals are really not missed. This album has been inspired by the beauty and harshness of landscapes, by mysterious occult stories, by real and unseen elements and its creation has been driven by a creative desire to provide sound to all these elements. The result is as experimental in its atmosphere, as it is organic in its structure. Listening to DAMSELFLY’s music is like accepting an invitation to navigate into places of natural beauty as well as places of spiritual mysticism.We will say more about this album in a separate review.

2019 is the year when Black Lung a.k.a David Thrussell, has decided to ‘strike’ again, this time with ‘The Great Manipulator‘. If we know something about the man behind this project, it is that nothing is abstract or without meaning in his work. This album might have started with a Jean Michelle Jarre/Vangelis’ inspired atmosphere that puts us in the mood to rewatch both Blade Runner movies, but it reveals its mystical qualities during the second half, through minimalist electronic soundscapes where slower rhythms and darker melodies create a sense of mystery and ritual at the same time. The titles of the tracks provide some indications about the subjects that inspired this album, such as ‘Hektemorage‘, a term associated with Solon’s ‘Seisachtheia’, and ‘Roth‘, a track that is referring to ‘Project Roth’, an artificial neural network research simulation developed by professor Brofenbrenner of Kaplan Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusets) aiming at emulating human behaviour. ‘Hektemorage‘ was mainly an odious debt that was instigated once a tenant of land fell into arrears, This debt practically turned the tenant into the landlord’s slave as, from that point onwards, he (the landlord) would then also dictate the use of the land. It has been considered that seisachtheia, destroyed the hektemorage.

XVII:The Star‘ , the new album by AMATERASU, which is a side project of Alone In the Hollow Garden, is an album that follows the trail of Coph Nia and Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, on what concerns its atmosphere and rhythms. It is also an album that translates into music, spiritual, philosophical explorations into occult and mystical territories. The track that closes the album entitled ‘Ra-Hoor-Khuit‘ for example, takes its title from the ‘active’ half of the composite deity Heru-ra-ha, within Thelema (the second half, the ‘passive’ is Hoor-paar-kraat).

123m‘ is the first collaboration between Anatoly Grinberg (TOKEE) and Mark Spybey (Zoviet France, Download, Dead Voices on Air). It is a cinematic album with a sound that has industrial textures and creates the impression that we are being placed inside an old factory whose flickering lights are the signs of either its invigoration or its demise. Mark, of course, has ‘brought’ with him, all the sonic wisdom that has been aggregated as a result of his career with Zoviet France, Download and Dead Voices on Air as well as the impact of his many collaborations with remarkable musicians whose artistic offerings have always pushed the boundaries of ‘genres’. The creative osmosis that has been achieved in this album by the two musicians, has the mark of both of them and neither of them at the same time. Do not expect an album with fast rhythms, but one that aims to take your mind into urban exploration paths, where melodies played on keyboards delineate these paths and sounds that replicate those of electrical cables about to burst, illuminate your ‘trip’. The sound in the second half becomes ‘harsher’ as vocals become more dynamic and affirmative while the blasting noises aim to create a sense of imminent danger or a change of course before a ‘calming’ sonic ambiance concludes the journey.

The debut album ‘Transmission Response‘ by DIAGRAM will probably create the following trilemma: re-watch ‘DRIVE’ the movie, listen to SUICIDE’s music or listen to Kavinsky’s albums. This is how strongly cinematic and multisensory the music of this album is and how many reference points it seems to have. Think of samples that nod to Eastern music, combined with vocals that have a hypnotizing effect, and you will have an inkling about what DIAGRAM will be ‘hitting’ you with! Enjoy it, especially if you are also a fan of the sound of Singapore Sling. Following a similar path but with added rock ‘n roll references, Clinic‘s first album in 7 years entitled ‘Wheeltappers and Shunters‘ could be the introduction to a Legendary Pink Dots’ gig. The band has set out to present a ‘...satirical take on British culture both high and low…” and have achieved that by using a very traditional (and for this reason, memorable) image cover of a house with a thatched roof and by borrowing the title of a 70s tv show. At the same time, they have also offered an album that looks outside of Britain and specifically towards American rock ‘n roll, on what concerns its music reference points. Satire and symbolism characterize the lyrics, while pop art aesthetics and visuals that bring to mind hallucinogenic mental images, dominate the videos that have been produced so far.

Being fans of Woody Allen’s evocative humour, Clinic have consistently offered to us albums whose meaning is open to interpretation but is also somehow quite unattainable. Dommengang‘s album ‘No Keys‘ starts with strong references to the sound of The Stooges and sends electrifying pulsations to the universe through guitar/bass riffs that want to distort and slow down, every single breath we take. I think it is safe to say that fans of 60s heavy psych rock sound will love this album.

Rhythm ‘n blues and strong references to Little Richard and the sound of American south in general, are the magic ingredients of ‘Lowdown Ways‘ the new album by Daddy LongLegs. This album changed our mood and helped us to get a ‘clean slate’ so that different sounds could be allowed to carry us away and inspire us in different ways. We are certain that the motivational percussion rhythms and Brian Hurd’s distinctive vocals, will transfer your mind to America in the 60s and 70s and will also change your mood as much as it did ours. The garage side of rock is nicely covered by the new album ‘Too Much Tension‘ by The Mystery Lights. ‘Thin’ guitar riffs, rock ‘n roll and blues’ rhythms, eastern music influences and Mike’s unique vocal timbre, will make you love the place,  where the music of this album will transfer you to.

The synth wave side of this monthly playlist is represented by the albums of Cold Showers, Palais Ideal and Fujiya&Miyagi. ‘Motionless‘, the latest album by Cold Showers, was released four years after ‘Matter of Choice’ and finds itself once again on the thin lines that separate indie rock and new wave. Many times within this album, the music of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ came to mind, while the percussion continues to play an important role in the atmosphere that is being created. We thought that the album’s cover indicates a fascination for the work of Matisse especially on what concerns the colours and the shapes that are depicted. In this album, more ‘weight’ is placed on melody than on the creation of rhythmic pulsations as was the case in ‘Matter of Choice’. The addition of strings and saxophone sounds in ‘Motionless’ is testament to the stylistic changes that have happened the last four years and the stronger inspiration the band has had, from 80s new wave and pop ‘anthems’.

By focusing on the creation of a ‘lighter’ mood using less heavy sonic colours, the second album by Palais Ideal, entitled ‘Pressure Points‘ seems to have been influenced by the aesthetics of Blancmange and Soft Cell alike. If these reasons are not good enough to convince you to spend your time listening to this album, then the fact that the band has covered Magazine’s ‘Shot By Both Sides’ will surely intrigue you! You will also identify Cure-sque guitar riffs complementing John’s beautiful vocals while the rhythms played on the drum machines solidify the pop character of the songs. We really enjoyed listening to ‘Flashback‘, the new album by Fujiya&Miyagi, which uses evocative lyrics and catchy pop rhythms that nod to Laid Back and Pet Shop Boys, in order to address contemporary issues (e.g. the increased need for personal space, the fear of missing out element).  Playful minimal melodic snippets are skillfully scattered around throughout this album, in order to allow us to ‘take a step back’ and see the ‘big picture’ just as we have to do, in order to grasp the whole image pointillists were creating in their paintings. This album will lighten your thoughts and especially the song ‘For Promotional Use Only’, will most definitely make you want to listen to Visage’s music afterwards.

The many sides of post-punk are represented in this monthly playlist by the albums of La Mécanique, VR Sex, Minuit Machine, Japan Suicide, Second StillGLUME and She Past Away. La Mécanique‘s ‘Dernier Voyage‘ is ‘flirting’ with darkwave and coldwave without denying its more pop influences ‘(i.e. ‘Lingchi‘, ‘Blablabla‘). In the meantime, the vocals sometimes stay at the background and at other times they are layered and open up new dimensions in the sound. This album will grow on you if you are fans of this type of sound and you will definitely decide to put it on your portable playlists to accompany you around the city. In May, VR Sex, the new side project of Andrew Clinco (Drab Majesty) with Z. Oro (Aaron Montaigne of Antioch Arrow/Heroin/DBC) on vocals and drums, and Mico Frost (Brian Tarney) on synths and electric bass, was introduced to us with a debut album entitled ‘Human Traffic Jam‘. This is a controversial album in terms of its visuals and subject matter, both of which have been intentionally left open to interpretation. In terms of its sound, this is an album where distortion is the protagonist and the element that gives to this release the sonic quality of underground punk music albums. We read that: “Through PSRS or Procreation Simulation Reproduction, Stimulation, humans can act on their hedonistic desires and not face the responsibilities and consequences that come with being an ill-prepared guardian. The future of our offspring will exist in virtual realms and population growth in turn will be stabilized. VR SEX is the cure to most societal ills…“, and after careful consideration, we truly believe that sonic distortion is really the best way to approach concepts like this. You will need to sign in and confirm your age in youtube in order to watch the very violent clip that was created for the wittingly named song ‘Maiden China‘. We also think that the album nods to the sound of Clair Obscur and Christian Death alike, especially on what concerns the delivery of the lyrics. Forget the enticing melodies of Drab Majesty because things become much heavier in this album and the subjects of the lyrics much darker! Japan Suicide‘s new album ‘Ki‘ has even stronger conceptual references to Japanese culture than their previous ones and this might be the reason for being much more atmospheric and cinematic than ‘Santa Sangre’. The album’s title, is possibly alluding to the Chinese concept of circulating life energy which is thought to be inherent in everything. Especially in Chinese medicine, the concept relates to the balance of positive and negative forms in the body that is considered to be essential for good health. Elements of Japanese culture and Asian philosophy have always played a major role in the band’s work and in this album we also find a song inspired by Hokusai’s famous painting of the great wave of Kanagawa (otherwise knwon as ‘Kanagawa-oki Nami-ura‘) and a song dedicated to Yukio Mishima (a famous Japanese author and founder of an unarmed civilian militia tasked to protect the Japanese emperor).  Mishima has committed suicide after a failed attempt of the militia to persuade soldiers of a military base, to join its cause after holding its commander hostage. This is a self-released album in which Stefano’s melodic timbre and his passionate performances, really come through and give to the already dynamic rhythms, cinematic qualities and added context. After listening to this album you might also agree with us that a short film could be made to accompany the music of this album.

We were delighted when a facebook post made earlier this year, suggested that Minuit Machine were preparing a new album. The release of ‘Infrarouge‘, coincided with the reissue of ‘Violent Rain’ in limited edition marble LP and has increased our expectations for a future gig by the band in London. We undoubtedly enjoy the solo work of HANTE a.k.a Hélène de Thoury but we have to admit that we absolutely love the music of Minuit Machine. Amandine’s voice brings out a captivating, unique melancholy, uncontested and yet humble and dynamic at the same time. The impact of the band’s debut album and their live appearance at WGT solidified our love for their music, which this album only enhances.  Amandine’s beautiful alto voice, a carrier of powerful emotions, has been sending shivers up my spine each time I listen to the band’s songs. ‘Chaos‘ the first song of this album, also summarises the whole album’s emotional message, being almost ‘hidden’ in the ever so slight change in one note at the chorus. The signature element of the duet’s sound is the juxtaposition between the mood and energy of the synth melodies and Amandine’s voice and stage presence. We feel as if every verse has been lived, every word in the lyrics carries through its full emotional ‘weight’ as the vocals ‘tame’ the rhythms by giving to them an energy that they seem to be trying to ‘escape’ from. This is more evident in this album where the music has sometimes catchier characteristics which seem to be striving to escape the dramatized delivery of the lyrics. We cannot, of course, be sure about whether all this is intentional or not but it surely is one of the reasons we love the music of this band so much.

Second Still have created a more mature album this time. ‘Violet Phase‘ focuses on musicality and lyricism. Without turning away from placing rhythmic bass-riffs at the foreground, the band has, in this case, favoured a more collage-like approach on what concerns the arrangement. This has created additional space for the darkness of the melody to come through and for the dreamy qualities of the ethereal vocals to be highlighted. GLUME‘s debut album ‘Vacant Eyes Can’t Dream‘ puts synthesizers in charge of creating a disquieting atmosphere, complemented by the evocative nature of the vocals which blend perfectly with the music that surrounds them. The lyrics talk about loneliness in its many forms and about internal struggles, while the rhythms add to the overall mood. The production of this album is offering a deep darkwave/coldwave sound with texture, where every element is discernible and is allowed to add its own mark to the atmosphere.

She Past Away‘s new chapter is entitled ‘Disko Anksiyete‘ and it is an album that has very strong influences from the places where Doruk and Volkan reside the past few years. It is a beautiful darkwave/gothic album that includes a song in Spanish, for the first time in the band’s releases. It is also an album, whose only video clip, makes an ode to the Athenian club scene with its memorable characters and vibe. The rhythms give the impression that things are emotionally ‘lighter’ in this album, but the lyrics reveal a different story. With the help of a dear friend, I have tried to grasp the overall vibe of the lyrics throughout this album and I have realized that the poetic side of the band’s music has not changed, despite a certain cynicism that comes out from the video clip that has been created. When I first watched ‘Trainspotting’ it was a certain feeling that Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ created, combined with the bar scene in which it was placed, that captured a sort of fleeting sensation of excitement, difficult to grasp and difficult to describe, but magnetizing in its impact. ‘Disko Anksiyete‘, the song, has had the same strong impact on me as Blondie’s song in that movie! Equally ‘bizarre’ was the moment when ‘Girdap‘ created the same feelings as The Stranglers’  ‘Midnight Summer Dream’ and the synth melodies of ‘Bosluk (Intro)‘ brought to mind the synth melody of Clan of Xymox’s ‘A Day’. While the synthesizer is the absolute protagonist in setting the mood, the vocals ‘ground’ any feeling of ‘lightness’ that might try to ‘escape’ as the lyrics talk about loneliness, emotional detachment in an almost post-apocalyptic scenery. The album in its various physical formats will be available in July through Fabrika Records but has been released digitally this month.

The punk side of our monthly playlist is represented by the albums of Petrol Girls, Insitute, NOTS and Glove. ‘Cut& Stitch‘ the new album by Petrol Girls is a punk story with a very strong concept. Among the many elements that have influenced the lyrics we read that: “Feminism has become more of an overall approach than an obvious topic, seeping into the way we think about everything from the environment to mental health. We’ve also started to think more about what feminism means for men, given that half of the band are men, and explore the perspective of a man struggling with expressing his emotions in ‘Talk in Tongues.’“. Taking into account the militarism demonstrated by a fraction of feminists these days, the fact that this band has actually put some more thought into this matter is noteworthy! The album makes seamless transitions between the tracks and this enhances the idea of it being a story with many chapters. Compared to ‘Talk of Violence’ this is a much more cinematic album, where songs have added melody and more evident rock guitar riffs, while spoken word is also incorporated enriching the vindicating element of the vocals.

Dead Kennedys and Sex Pistols seem to have inspired Institute in the creation of their new album ‘Readjusting The Locks‘ and that is probably the greatest combination of influences there is. Invigorating rhythms and refreshing guitar riffs accompany the vocals as the band seems to have lessened their rock ‘n roll-inspired rhythms, in favour of a more experimental attitude towards sound, especially that of the guitars. ‘3‘, is the new album by NOTS a.k.a Alexandra, Charlotte, Meredith and Natalie. This very creative quartet, has ‘dressed’ a punk album with space-y sounds and synthesizers that seem to be the alien estranged relative of the guitar and bass on a trance. The band’s take on punk music is refreshing and we hope we can enjoy them live in London soon.

Glove‘s a.k.a SloSilver & Stephanie Firegun debut EP entitled ‘No Blades No Bones‘ is a theatrical album that feels both like the soundtrack of a play and the play itself. The delivery of the lyrics, reveals soul music elements, shares qualities with the dynamism of PJ Harvey and carries the attractiveness and experimentation that comes with a talented artistic point of view. The sheer force of the performance and the tribalism of the rhythms will carry you away into a wild place where everything that you might think about, seems to be only limited by your decisiveness to act on it… We really hope that the band will perform in London soon.

Fury‘s new album entitled ‘Failed Entertainment‘ brought to mind the performing style of The Beastie Boys and the early sound of Ministry, up until the moment where the metal rock elements prevailed within the guitar riffs towards the end of the album.

The last three albums of this playlist represent the experimental side of modern classical and soul. A.A. Bondy, Fire!Orchestra and Francesco Tristano allowed us to end the sonic chapter of this month in a way that opened our minds to the influence of the releases of the next.  A.A. Bondy’s ‘Enderness‘ uses a strange image of a headless figure as a cover, while its sound is lyrical, melancholic and poetic and for this reason, is summarises the mood of this monthly playlist. Take heed at what the synth is playing at the back and how it sounds more and more like a theremin, thus enhancing the impact of the dark dystopia that the lyrics describe. This experimental attitude towards the sound of the instruments and their arrangement makes a big aesthetic difference from the previous releases of AA Bondy, while the music enhances its soul rather than its folk rock elements. A similar experimental attitude towards the sound of an ensemble of instruments can be enjoyed in the new album ‘Arrival‘, by the Fire!Orchestra. We suggest that you pour yourselves your favourite drink, sit down and enjoy the atmosphere that is created. We loved the fact that all the songs begin with instrumental improvisation, creating a ceremonial sonic environment before the vocals come in later in the song, in order to ‘lift’ everything up to a place where it has a little less ‘weight’. The epitome of this is our favourite song ‘Blue Crystal Fire‘. Even though, all the instruments have unique roles within this album, the saxophone, in our opinion, is the ultimate ‘guide’ . In fact, if you fail to ‘see’ the saxophone with new eyes after this album, I don’t know if you can ever appreciate it.

If the saxophone is the protagonist in ‘Arrival’, then the piano takes its place in the album ‘Tokyo Stories‘ by Francesco Tristano. This is an album that feels like a wave does; slowly building up its energy before reaching its zenith and then fading out. The album was recorded in and inspired by, Tokyo, and features guest artists including the Japanese musicians U-zhaan, Keiichiro Shibuya and Hiroshi Watanabe, Argentine electronic artist Guti and legendary French musician Michel Portal. Expect to be captured by compositions that focus on the higher notes of the piano range and the slower rhythms of life and thought…

We hope you enjoy our playlist as much as we enjoyed preparing it!

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