Thursday, July 26, 2007

hydra head splits with temporary residence

i'm sure anyone who even randomly keeps plugged in to current trends in music would know exactly the kind of talent that both hydra head and temporary residence horde these days. they've started a really great idea that has seemingly gone rather well so far where they are pairing up artists from both labels to do split EP releases.

mono/pelican SPLIT

the first is a split between mono and pelican. both are amazing post-rock and post-metal bands respectively. both are instrumental. both have a very worthy back catalog of releases. there is no reason to not listen to this.

jesu/eluvium SPLIT

the second, and most recent, release from this series of cross-label splits is between eluvium and jesu. while eluvium crosses a deserted field of grunge and dirt with the most beautiful and romantic cinematic themes imaginable, jesu has taken that same field and thrown in the ashes of discarded and lonely shoegaze pop bliss. the mixture of these two makes for one very satisfying listen. for me personally, this is the best material released by jesu since the silver EP was released in 2006. the three jesu tracks are gritty, dirty but accessible and absolutely wonderful at the same time. the single 20 minute track from eluvium is what you would expect. a shimmering journey into the atmosphere between reality and the unknown, courtesy of drones and sounds washing over you ever so gently. the ghostly piano notes creep into your mind just as you are becoming uncertain of where you are, comforting your inner being. although you become satisfied with the comfort level that the piano establishes, soon enough a thicker, more sinister wash of sound begins to overflow and a sense of drowning begins to settle in just before the track disappears into the air.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cinematic II

Eluvium - Copia

The sound of Eluvium has shifted a few times with each release, but never in a bad sense. He never leaves the basis of the emotion that is being thrust upon the listener with the quality of sound and crafting of the songs. The music on Copia tends to swing back and forth from dusty, dirty washes of sound with hidden beauty and flat out catchy, romantic piano pieces that hook the listener by the second or third note. Personal favorites on this album would have to be 'Radio Ballet' and 'Prelude For Time Feelers,' as well as the very cinematic opening track, 'Amreik.'

Craig Armstrong - Piano Works

Craig Armstrong consistently provides extremely well written material both as solo projects and in film scoring. This would really lead to no surprise that I would consider his 'Piano Works' album a very cinematic piece of work. His piano playing is impeccable. The sound quality on the recording is, as you would expect, perfect. The songs go between the romantic, the lonely, the fearful and everything in between. There is not an emotional heart string untugged by this album. Some of the songs can be a bit boring, while others are so enthralling and captivating that they more than make up for any dull pieces. Do not go without at least giving this album a single spin.


This is a compiled list of albums that strike me as having something so rich and full to them that they are of a cinematic quality...this doesn't mean that they're so grand that they could score feature films with huge explosions and romantic love scenes. These pieces could be the score to rain falling, or to looking at trees before a storm hits while driving...a soundtrack to life itself.

Max Richter - Blue Notebooks

This album is just beautiful. The lush strings contrast perfectly with the interjections of found sounds and poetic expression through voice. The quality of this album in all its originality is unparalled. You simply won't find another like this. Richter's work, both before and after this album, are worthwhile indeed but unable to reach the same level this has hit. This album seems to embrace the frailty of existence and extenuate the greatness of simplicity.

Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart Shines Toward The Red Sun

As there are many, many releases that are put under the category of 'post-rock' these days, Red Sparowes so far have sadly been overlooked. While bands such as Explosions in the Sky may have brought 'post-rock' to the forefront of popular music, it could also be the reason why no one is searching out alternative bands that could possible fit under the same moniker. Thus far, to the average listener, 'post-rock' typically consists of Mogwai, Explosions, Do Make Say Think, Sigur Ros and so on. These bands are releasing boring material these days, to me at least and is creating an icky stagnation in this field of sound. With all of that sad, I am extremely pleased with the output by the Red Sparowes, and cannot speak highly enough of this album. Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun is quite beautiful in all its ugliness. There isn't a lot of thick guitar, but its heavy. There isn't a lot of quiet pauses, but the ambient drifts that can be found here are very relaxing. Thankfuly there are no words. Just music. Soulful and dramatic without becoming theatrical. There are hints of being deserted - desperation, loneliness and fullfilment while in these states of solitude. For my money - instrumental rock music could not become any more personal than this recording.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Nine Horses - Snow Borne Sorrow

I don't know where to try and give you an idea by classifying this album into a particular category...this album stands alone for sure. It has a wonderful downtempo feel all the way through, jazzy and electronic...if the recording and instrumentation didn't sound so rich and fresh, I would have assumed this album was released in the mid'90s and not in '05.

The main man behind Nine Horses is David Sylvian, which has released tons of great material in the past three a solo artist (check out his double CD called Gone To Earth), and as the lead singer of the art rock group Japan (check out their album Gentlemen Take Polaroids).

Back to the album, the song writing quality on this album is just about as good as it gets. I was a bit skeptical about Sylvian's voice on this album at first - before I listened I should say. I remembered him from Japan, as I had been a fan for years...but that was indeed years ago, so how would he sound now? Absolutely perfect for this form of music. There is no one else out there that can sound like him, and this album would have been awful with anyone else. Don't get me wrong, the music is beautiful on its own - but it is completed with his vocals.

Friday, May 4, 2007

NWW - Insect And Individual Silenced

Now I know this album just got re-released with the upgraded packaging and an explanation as to why Stapleton decided, after declaring this album was total shit, to release it again. This post isn't really reviewing the newly re-released version, but the ripped version I found years ago of the original vinyl that was released in '81 on United Dairies.

The album starts off with a metallic slam which creates a kind of feedback, and this basically leads you to believe that this opening track might be a drone type field recording. Soon after this thought has settled, there is lots of clanging and noise to bring you back to reality. The rest of the track is a beautiful collage of sound and the destruction there of.

The second track, Absent Old Queen Underfoot , is another sound collage...a bit less harsh, more subdued but equally interesting.

The final track is Mutil├ęs du Guerre which has some great brush goings on from Trevor Reidy with distorted amp noises and trashy sounds that creep in and out as the drummer plays with his brushes with out a care for form or reason. Near the end, there is a wonderful tape loop that plays over and over with a female sounding voice saying something I can't sounds like it is being scratched off of some old vinyl. It is lovely and fits in perfectly against the sick sounds that Stapleton is destroying your ears with. The sounds of old squeeky metal or coil springs fight against an odd screaming and deafening tone just below all of it.

Over all I love listening to this mess of an album. I can see how Stapleton could intially reject it though...but given time, it is quite a great representation of the sound collage work with tape looping and what not that was going on back in the 70s/80s. Definitely worth at least one listen.

Thank God for Post Rock

I'm not a fan of constantly trying to label music, but I think calling all of this post-rock seems to let most people know what I'm talking about up front. This post is basically nothing more than a list of post-rock groups I enjoy and some albums from them I particularly like. If you know of others not listed, please feel free to suggest more in comments. With this list, I am in no way attempting to be an expert on this field of music.

  • Dirty Three - Cinder
  • Do Make Say Think - you, you're a history in rust
  • Esmerine - Aurora
  • Explosions in the Sky - how strange innocence, those who tell the truth
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Infinity F#A#, Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada
  • Jackie O' Motherfucker
  • Japancakes - The Sleepy Strange, Waking Hours
  • Jesu - Silver EP
  • Kayo Dot
  • Labradford
  • Mogwai - Rock Action
  • Mono - You are There, Under the Pipal Tree
  • Pelican - Australasia, Pelican
  • Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart Shines Towards The Red Sun
  • Silver Mt Zion
  • Sparrows Swarm & Sing - Untitled II
  • Stars of the Lid - The Tired Sounds of, and their refinement of the decline
  • Tristeza - Dream Signals, Spine & Sensory

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

johann johannsson (avant garde)

Johann johannsson's newest release, IBM1401, a user's manual was released on 4ad in 2006. It is nothing short of a masterpiece, and could be one of the greatest works to be released in the avant-garde, post-modern world in years.

The album takes you on a cinematic journey. I cannot think of anything off hand to compare this to, and I don't think I would want to. It is in a similar vein of Max Richter, combining found sounds and voices with beautiful string arrangements. The mood is never quite totally set...there are moments of romance, desire, loss, sadness and fear but there is never a time when a particular emotion is so overwhelming that you can't decide for yourself what to feel.

There is a sixty piece string orchestra behind all of this beautiful sound, as well as a 30+ year old reel to reel tape of an IBM mainframe system that Johannsson's father originally recorded. There are bits and pieces of minimalism thrown in to give you down town between movements as well.

I could not suggest this album highly enough. I won't be taking it out of rotation for awhile. It is simply breath taking, and one of the most beautiful works I personally have heard in years.

Listen to samples here

paul bradley (ambient)

As described by his own site, "Paul Bradley is a composer from the UK who captures recordings from numerous sources and transforms them into rich, drifting, sonorous music. Exploring the different details of these sounds, the resulting music is often far removed from its original source but still retains a natural sense and human feel."

I've not listened to enough of him yet to know if this is totally true or not, but I did listen to a few...and I highly recommend them. I've listened to Notes from the Past - Sketches from Dust, Sophia Drifts and Confluence (with Colin Potter of NWW fame).

Notes from the Past/Sketches from Dust and Sophia Drifts both have a very, very relaxing sense to them. Fluid ambient motion pulls you in, but some how drifts in and out of your conscience. I found myself randomly catching sections of sound that I loved, and ten minutes later realizing I had not paid any attention to it in a while. I like that about ambient...I enjoy being able to float in and out - how it can be background music while working, or foreground when you want to relax. Out of the two, Sophia Drifts has to be my favorite of his works so far.

Confluence was a bit darker, more experimental - which I'm sure is obvious when adding Colin Potter to the mix. I will properly review this double CD in a future post.

Visit his site to find out more about his work. I hopefully will familiarize myself with more of his work in the near future.


So here is the first post. I hope someone, or a group of someones find this page to be of some interest. I will continously, and randomly post links and information I locate online about music.

What kind you ask? Typically it will be avant-garde, post-modern, minimalism, ambient, experimental, krautrock, electronic, world, some jazz, some indie pop and rock...and anything else that I decide is note-worthy.

I will at times post album reviews, and possibly begin uploading albums that are rare or out of print to share with the public.

Feel free to suggest items for review, send links to post, or just general comments about anything related to the main subject matter at hand.