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Yet the reality of 27-year-old Zane Michael O'Brien's existence and music is a truly bizarre combination of rustic, basic, level-headed and completely normal upbringing meets pseudo-spiritual-enlightenment via. intravenous force-feeding of the Occult and Magickal realm into his brain. Exposure to the modern Fucked Up World, partly through travel, but largely through the internet with its plethora of conspiracy theories and otherworldly ideas, have formed a very confused and complicated ego that churns out some of the strangest music you will ever hear.
I have a brief yet intense history with the man behind one of the 21st Century's most perplexing solo projects. It's hard to describe the music without also describing this person. I have spoken to him through Skype once, and a million times through little interactions on Facebook. When confronted with a video image of an unshaven man, about my age, scraping hash resin from a bowl in the dark basement of his father's house in Wisconsin whilst we talked about deep and fascinating subject matter, I could easily see both where he finds the time to be online almost 24/7, and why his music is so completely Caved In. There are no two better words to describe ʄ≜uxmuℭica. The music closes in on you from all sides and from the first note makes you want to just immediately hit stop and put the whole thing in the trash.
But there are two qualities I possess that have led me to a higher appreciation of many things that others would never listen to again: I like to be challenged musically, and I often find that what I have a knee-jerk reaction to hate, I grow to love.
In this way I would say, for me, the most comparable sound to ʄ≜uxmuℭica is Cradle of Filth's early material. Like the promising symphonic black metal albums of "Cruelty and the Beast" ilk, "HiFi ♮ SciFi ♮" feels like the beginning of something, something extraordinary.
At least, not-ordinary.
Despite his music clearly defying pigeonholing, Zane is a lover of tags; he labels his own music as "crunkgaze", "ghost-step", "post-whatever", "triangle-core" and many other delightfully unique yet utterly weightless terms. However, there is one tag that demands immediate attention in relation to ʄ≜uxmuℭica, and that is "witch-house".
Witch-house is a phenomenon that has grown from humble and genuine beginnings - of including Qabbalistic Symbology, Occult references, and Magick in musical creations - but that has now exploded into a disgusting "scene", whereby the coolness of your music is determined by how many uni-code symbols you can squeeze into a title.
Zane is as sick of this scene as I am, and I notice he no longer tags his own stuff as "witch-house". He has alienated himself from the scene, and looks down on the posers who have hopped on the bandwagon hoping to find success and glory. Yet he still uses symbols instead of letters wherever he can. Why?
Now we get to the nitty gritty, the true essence of what "fauxmusica" means. It's fake music. Everything from the timbre of the synth sounds he uses, the structure and melody of the songs, and ultimately the project's position in the "witch-house scene" - is fake. In that Skype conversation he was talking about how he felt like a "Spiritual Airport", not possessing any personality or ideas of his own, but merely acting as an air-traffic-controller for the terabytes of data that float in and out of our brains every day.
In this way, Zane holds a DarkMirror up to the world. What you hear when you listen to ʄ≜uxmuℭica is a reflection of modern media. It's as simple as that. In a stroke of genius he picked up the dead carcass of the witch-house scene and threw it back in the faces of those that created this sub-pop-culture bullshit, and we lapped it up.
I have listened to HiFi ♮ SciFi ♮ maybe 4 times now and only about half an hour ago did I manage to make it to the end. It's truly terrifying and horrible to listen to, but as a landmark in recent history it stands tall and proud as A Work of Something. It's not outrageous enough to be Art, not experimental enough to be avant-garde, and not musical enough to be, well, music. Tag it with weightless words and spam it on Facebook. Whatever the fuck it is, it Works.
Works, a term often used to describe a Magickal Happening... Magick is one of the greatest revelations a human can come across. It is not for everyone, a surety that can be illustrated by this very paragraph: some of you will simply stop reading once I start talking about Magick, others will "get it", and most inspiringly, others will be confused yet plough on in the hopes of learning something.
Magick is not for everyone and this album is not for everyone, yet in its Qabbalistic, spiritual alignment it stirs something within the air your speakers vibrate when you play this stuff, and performs Works. It doesn't need describing to the initiated, and it doesn't bother pandering to the disbeliever. It is also probably too inaccessible for the merely curious, save the bravest of them.
Above all, the highest of compliments I can attach to this album is to reiterate its absolute weightlessness, both in the treble-heavy, vacant synth lines' tone, and in its complete lack of emotion.
It is therefore a Work that truly reflects. It reflects how you feel at the moment. It reflects your agitation. It reflects your disdain for pain and anxiety and synths that sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.
It reflects your soul, for it is a DarkMirror.
Out now for FREE... I don't recommend this album, but you're going to listen to it to see why.
See what he did there?
HiFi ♮ SciFi ♮ <------ Direct Link to instant, free Mediafire download.
ʄ≜uxmuℭica Is part of the escc9 net-label, a Yorba Zergot initiative.
My last review of these guys ended on the high note of wanting “to watch their future releases with intrigue”, having picked apart both their flaws and better attributes. This 4-track EP is one of those future, now present, releases.
I think the title of the album is a good place to start: it’s something a person hurled forward in a time machine from even as recent as the 80s would just say “WHAT?!”, but we’re all tech-savvy net-linguists these days and we know exactly how to pronounce the name. Say it with me together guys, “p014r0pp05it3b34r”, because chances are, if the winds are favourable, you’ll be hearing it around. The title reflects the music: youthful embracement of a new era, cutting edge stuff that only the select few of us, that are still quite comfortably weathering net-waves and web-squalls, will understand. An age where you don’t need to understand the lyrics because immediacy is more important than longevity. The guy has a really nice voice and it compliments the music: immediate reaction equals happy face. No I’m not gonna rush out and buy a physical copy of the EP for the precious liner notes with lyrics, but nonetheless there has been communication.
The communication comes mostly through the delightfully playful interaction of bass and guitar, with a simple message that says, “I am alive”, uplifting yet heavy at the same time. My review of their previous release, “The Cre EP”, noted the bass as being outstanding whilst the guitar was “exceptionally well played, even if monotonously composed”. In this release not only does the guitar appear to have considerably more thought put into its execution of riffage, but is layered with (itself? another guitar?) in a subtle, intriguing and progressive way, and together with the bass craft a familiar yet nonetheless utterly pleasurable soundscape from the solidest rock there is, that being: Rock!
Admiring the well-hewn rock from afar, one notices etchings of “progress”, the noun that appears in the adjective “progressive”, that is thrown around nilly-willy in the contemporary music scene. Yet what does “progressive” really mean? It means it evolves. The song writing on this release is about 450% better than their last release. Each song builds and builds, morphing and twisting, the melodies and root notes summoning wreathes of charisma about their undulating forms to hit your brain at the exact same time as the final part of this manifold creation: the drums; and hit it does.
The drumming on this release is about 875.6% better than their last release, and also highlights the winning factor for me: production. To a sound engineer’s ears this EP is heaven. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an underground rock drum kit captured so well. Props to the engineer of this EP.
And massive props to the band for delivering on their promise that the next EP would be much, much better. I’m very impressed.
Say it with me, guys, “p014r0pp05it3b34r!!!!”. Yea. No, really: YEA!
Available for free from POB's MySpace
I decided this album was worth exactly 7 dollars and 77 cents. It's not just because it's great music that I decided to pay a higher price than what I normally would for pay-as-you-wish downloads (in fact most of the time I accept the "free" option), but also that the mystical, often haunting sounds I heard whilst listening on the player aligned my aural mechanics with the movements of the planets, or something, and made me decide that three lucky 7's were the go.
It's kind of hard to put into words, but before you listen to emorej's stuff, and afterwards, you are a different person. I am currently the sort of person that imagines giving him $7.77 for the privilege of owning his album will have some profound and positive karmic resonances with the man behind the music and, like a butterfly flapping its wings in The Amazon, will ripple its way through the cosmos to create peace and harmony on Romulus. Or something.
Like I say, it's hard to put into words, but from the first note I heard of this guy I just thought "Fuck yea, this is what music is." He is unmistakably a genius, and I am hardly surprised that this album, "General Electronica", so humbly named yet gloriously sculpted, amazes me at every turn. I now own all of the albums he has put on Bandcamp and am damn proud to have them in my music collection, not only standing next to, but shining brighter than, more everyday names like Infected Mushroom and Boards of Canada.
The electronic flavourings of emorej are somewhere between the extremes of mind-bending psytrance eg. the above mentioned Infected Mushroom, and chilled vibes from those Canadian Board Guys, yet it is distinctly original. It is so, so, so easy for "electronica" to sound unoriginal, detached, and, well, like it was made on a computer. Yet in every emorej album I have heard so far I feel nothing but original, complex, scintillating, organic, evolving, and completely enveloping music that deserves a better tag than "electronica".
So, I am hereby labeling it, despite all my disdain for tags and out of a necessity for succinct descriptions, especially since I just joined Twitter: "Fantasgamazinga".
If you want to hear these Fantasgamazing sounds simply head on over to The album's page on Bandcamp and grab your FREE copy, or whatever price you put on it.
For me it's "Seven Dollars And Seventy-Seven Cents For A Five Star Album That Stimulates The Senses"
EV sings in both Spanish and English, and this latest album is a lot more Spanish-orientated, which seems to lend itself naturally to "smiley voices". The syllables roll off her tongue like crystal clear water in a fountain, exuberant and bubbly, accompanied for the first time (on a recording) by a full live band. I understand they went through a few drummers before settling on the current one, and he’s a good choice - a cowbell here and there, just the right amount of hi-hat and snare, very jazzy and upbeat - altogether very suited to the whole "Latin feel" of the band. Also a first for a recorded album of this amazing New York City band is electric lead guitar, playing Santana-esque lines sporadically yet appropriately. The whole feel of this album is of delicacy and subtlety. The bass sits low in the mix yet moves around, you can forget it’s there if you stop listening to it yet it is the cornerstone of the chord progressions, strummed on a bright guitar by the lovely EV herself.
Mixing a project like this is a hard task: lots of drum mic-ing and many different frequencies competing for space. Yet in the hands of EV, who has mixed and produced all of Corrientes’ albums at her home studio, it sounds absolutely mint.
There have always been two aspects to Corrientes: their live performances, featuring less instrumentation and more intimate, acoustic sort of stuff, and their studio albums which have often involved a hefty electronic element to it. Breathe/Respira manages to combine the crystal clarity of professional digital mixing with that intimate live feel to produce a very pleasant album. I had never heard much Spanish/Latin music until I heard Corrientes, and was immediately delighted. It’s unfamiliar territory for an Australian but I understand it’s quite prevalent in America. Whether you’re a newcomer to the soulful upbeat sounds of Latin American music or are sick to death of hearing it, I would recommend this album either way. It’s top notch, refreshing and joyous.
I can be quoted regarding Corrientes’ January ’09 album "Underlying Truth" that "I don’t need to hear anything else in 2009 to say that this is the best album of the year." And it still holds true. There are no electronics in Breathe/Respira and it’s something that seems missing, making "Underlying Truth", complete with luscious synthy elements, a better album in my opinion (full review of that one coming up); but it’s a new approach for the band, they’ve found members that they like and are sticking with, that form a cohesive "live entity", and it is also the first time that they’ve decided to branch out and sell their music.
For a band that has consistently delivered professional, excellently produced, highly creative, and inspiring material for free, they deserve a quick visit to the online store for this album.
EV has also provided some more tasty information regarding the mixing of the album, as well as lyrics:
You can see the info about the recording here.
And you can listen to EV speaking about the recording on Mixposure’s Center Stage Presentation here.
Smiley music to make you smile. Get it.
Furthermore, the first thing that comes across when you listen to this is that it is fuckin’ HEAVY! The powertude of their riffage is unrivalled by anything I’ve heard this year. And they don’t even have a bassist! With just two guitars and drums, this outstanding three-piece manage to fill the frequency spectrum with growling low-end subwoofer delight and high-end free-wheeling lead breaks, cemented solidly by the meat in the middle. It sounds like at least a 4 piece band, but there is no layering. It’s just guitar vs. guitar vs. drums. I say ‘versus’ very appropriately, as the whole album sounds like a battle between the different instruments. Math rock evolved from the fusion of technical jazz and rock. Where listening to a jazz CD conjures up images of the musicians dancing together, listening to something as heavy as this brings forth a different sort of image, a different sort of dance: that of gladiators in the ring, circling, striking, parrying; the dance of Death.
All the while there is still that sense of “calculation”. It’s so intricate it seems that if you got out a pen and paper and dissected this music, you would discover some secret about the nature of the universe. But that is not the intended effect. It is so complex that you just can’t follow the sharp twists and turns, and thus ends up sounding like pure, raw, Chaos. I’m a lover of Chaos Theory, fractals and the like, and as I listen various thoughts propel themselves to the forefront from my subconscious: from chaos comes order (for example, the branches and leaves of a tree spring out randomly, yet the tree is ultimately symmetrical), yet this music reveals that from order comes chaos. There is no doubt that these guys have arranged the music precisely, they know exactly where each note is gonna land and when. Yet, it does sound like something from another plane of existence; otherworldly, all over the place, from somewhere so chaotic it’s almost too much.
This brings me to my final point: unfortunately I feel it is a bit too much. No sooner do you grasp an awesome hook than it falls through your fingers to be replaced by something else. The moment you start head-banging to a solid 4/4 beat it is replaced by 13/8 time. It’s the reason why a lot of people don’t like jazz. Too much change, not so much “songs”, as “shifting patterns”. I feel, however, that the more I listen to this album the more familiar it will become, and although I may never be able to fathom the mysteries written in the bizarre numerology of this music, it’s heaviness will always make it a great wake-up album and these amazing musicians will always be held in high esteem through my eyes.
The Slagg Factory by Dr. Slaggleberry is out now through Crash Records, and is highly recommended for anyone who likes something different.
Those three names came to mind as I listened again, and again, and again; not just comparing the production values and composition of this jewel to those classic albums, but also because of what the sonic scope incorporates: warm yet heavy guitars, a voice that expresses, soothes and provokes; that is raw yet clean - segueing easily between different styles - carrying lyrics of hefty weight and emotion whilst still somehow retaining a hauntingly cold distance; drums that punch straight through the mix and combine with a positively droolifying bass to get that spinal action happening; and the light, albeit perfect amount of, electronic elements.
It’s a special sort of sound that a lot of bands aim for and miss, and that a rare few like the ones I’ve mentioned nail, yet at 25 minutes long, this 8 track album manages to compress all those juicy elements into the sweetest fruit possible. All killer, no filler, engaging for every single second, superbly produced, and an album you simply cannot live without. So it’s a good thing this album can be downloaded in its entirety from their website (free), for without it life would just be… less.
Red Army (Red Friday's fan site)
As I lie in the fading Autumn light at the end of a hot Melbourne Summer, nothing connects more with my state of mind than this sort of music. Entitled “Songs For And From The Heart”, it certainly captivates the essence of that organ that infuses the whole body with warmth. Soft and gentle, soothing and tranquil, the musical energy of this album flows through you like blood, and you can bask in it like a lizard does the sun. Over and around you, it is a delight to feel the closeness of the driving yet perfectly paced rhythms, the high-end chimes running trilling patterns, complimented by a smooth bassline and sunny swirling pads, all held together by a simply sublime voice. I can't tell if it's male or female, which causes some confusion as “emorej” is a play on “Jerome”, the first name of the creator of this music. Perhaps it is a duo with a female singer, or perhaps he simply has a high voice, or perhaps it's pitch-shifted, or my interpretation that “Jerome” is a male name is completely wrong.
Anyway, it doesn't matter. I don't need to do any research on this music as I may have to in other reviews to flesh out what little I can say about it, as the music itself speaks volumes. A highly recommended 5 star album. And guess how much it is? 1 dollar. You get that in change from your coffee or soft drink, so just do it. And if you're feeling generous there's the option to pay more.
Support independent, talented musicians like emorej and buy this album at Bandcamp. Mellow, engaging, calm waves of airy bliss await your appreciative ears.
I had to listen to this album about 5 times before I really got into it, and after that I couldn't stop listening to it. The similarities abound, from an intro that has almost the exact same feel to their debut's, to an opening track that could very well be a remix / combination of Slam and Fasten Your Seatbelt, easily the two best tracks on Pendulum's 2005 album – everything from the tone of the lead synth to the key structure and breakdown immediately scream these two tracks at you. But as you progress further into the album it is exactly this aspect of the music – basically lifting things from Colour and updating them - that makes this release so tantalisingly good.
5 years have passed between the two albums, and what that has done is basically turn Immersion into a re-imagining of Hold Your Colour, as if the boys from Perth simply pushed their first album out of their minds completely and, in laying down some new tracks completely ignored any notion that they may be re-hashing old material. The album stands tall and proud as a poetic statement as if it were Pendulum's first unveiling upon the world. This gives it a very fresh, exciting and “shiny new” feel. This time 'round, armed with a noticeably more powerful arsenal of breaks and grooves, the re-imagining ends up being rock solid by simply taking what has been done before and improving on it.
This is what a large part of music is all about. Without Howlin' Wolf there would be no Rolling Stones, and without With The Beatles there would be no Abbey Road. Emulation and building on solid foundations are what make great albums great, and this album is great. Cliched loops, overuse of the amen break and floating vocals were all there on Pendulum's first album; Immersion merely extrapolates these, adding a few flairs like Dubstep and Tech-House ramblings to the familiar bass-lines, synth melodies and drums that are unmistakably “The Sound Of Pendulum”, whilst constantly keeping you intensely engaged with intriguing side-steps, breakdowns and sharp corners.
Simply put, Hold Your Colour is a 5 star, outstanding album, but if I were on a desert island and had to choose between it and Immersion, it would be the latter without question.
Available from CD stores, iTunes, etc. through Warner.
A bizzare mixture of textures and beats combine to create a copmplex tapestry of genre-defying music. A rich barotone voice floats in and out, sitting back in the mix as if it's lounging in a deliciously comfortable armchair, making the lyrics hard to fathom. Yet lyrics are unneccesary for music that carries with it such an incredible ability to conjure concepts, themes and emotions from a purely instrumental perspective. The warm bass, at times squelching and playful, at other times deep and resounding, remind me of heavy, tired footsteps on the pavement at night. The jazzy, light piano is reminiscent of a warm streetlamp, pushing away the darkness, providing solace, yet the whole time aware of the empty blackness only meters away. Link these elements with extra-dimensional soundscapes, and both insanity and bliss are constantly within arms reach.
There is an edginess about this music that, when resolved in fleeting moments of sheer harmony, send shivers down the spine. The edginess comes from the strange tonality that is prevalent throughout the whole album: notes that sit next to each other that don't quite fit (deliberately so), jostling for position in the forefront, arguing with each other. Despite the general first impression of a lax, drifting attitude, the album can be quite aggressive at times due to this discord. Yet tension and resolution are the keystones of great music, and the album manages to keep the tension just long enough that you feel uneasy; and then, with perfect timeliness and inclination, segues into harmonic resolution.
Described as "Light Music meets Dark Electronica", HealeyIsland's latest album "Not Afternoon, But Evening", is suitably titled, the whole thing feeling like the fading daylight leading into encroaching night; where shapes and figures are blurred, silhouetted, undefined, and the air holds an essence of change, of limbo, purgatory: twilight.
It's not afternoon, and something is lurking in the shadows, yet the familiar lull of downtempo shuffling tricks you into thinking this is gonna be a smooth ride. You could pay to see some blockbuster movie that tries and fails to keep you on the edge of your seat, or you could buy this album and feel the chilling, haunting vibes strangely coupled with moments of calm, beauty and peacefullness; and feel the imagery of your dreams, nightmares and fantasies become reality. A must have for those who understand that normality is banal, and strangeness: Divine.
Out now through White Label Music.
Radiohead's pinnacle of success has often been described as the best album of last century, and whilst "This Is War" is simply outstanding, there's a lot of century to go before we can make any claims similar to those surrounding OK Computer.
Yet it is also curious that 30 Seconds To Mars' latest release, put out in December '09, sounds distinctively like the beginning of something, like the beginning of a great era in music. This is 2010. This is now. The first decade of the millennium was plagued by a horrible President of USA, by the biggest recession since the great depression, and the foundations of the music world were utterly smashed by the arrival of the MP3 and file sharing. "This Is War" stands tall and proud as an epic statement to the world. As the title suggests, it's declaring something.
For me, part of the very first generation to grow up with the net, the album defiantly declares war on the past, and embraces the future. The lyric "The war is won, lift your hands toward the sun" off the title track sends shivers down the spine as a military-style snare rattle builds up to an epic take-off. I almost burst out crying everytime the outstanding vocals on the second track, Night of the Hunter, yearn "Pray to your god, open your heart, whatever you do don't be afraid of the dark". And as each song progresses the lyrics just keep tugging at those heartstrings: "Tell me would you kill to save a life". This music is Shakespearean in scope, timeless. And although it's not entirely clear on a first listen what 30 Seconds are declaring war on, it unfurls as you dig deeper and deeper like the most poetic of Elizabethan plays. The outstanding "100 Suns" states "I believe in nothing, not in satan not in god, I believe in nothing, but the Truth in who we are". For me this sums up what "The War" is about, it's about a new world order, where religion and belief systems no longer harbour the hearts of most of the civilised world; where people are looking inside themselves for Truth and not being dictated what they should believe anymore. A war on the past, and embracing the future. With the advent of the internet people are moving closer together, old values are replaced by true individuality as accessibility to information allows us to make our minds up for ourselves about the big questions.
The fact that this is a commercial release, under a major label, means nothing. Everyone knows you can get it for free if you want, and I think the lads from 30 Seconds know this too. I can imagine when they finished this album they realised they had made something truly special that would resonate throughout the land and earn them not money, but artistic merit. The recording industry has changed whereby the success of an artist is not determined by how many records it sells but by how many people are Tweeting about them. A new world order. Declare war on the past and embrace the future. It's 2010 everyone! Rejoice! "Darkness floods, here comes the rain, to wash away the past."
I have seen many people slagging this album for departing from "their earlier style", and I have to admit I have no idea what that earlier style is, for this is my introduction to 30 Seconds To Mars, and it's a fuckload of a good one. Get this album, by whatever means. It will change your life.