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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.
Unfortunately the whole album, whilst passionately created and something I myself would be extremely proud of, doesn't hold the same power as the opening track. There is a sense of commercialism about this album that just doesn't quite click with me, but, for woe, will with the masses.
It feels that they followed a formula. Heavy rock track followed by upbeat pop track followed by ballad, have a bowl of cornflakes and repeat. The lyrics could be produced by a computer that had listened to lots of Britney. The riffs are extremely catchy, they know exactly what they're doing but sorry guys, it's just a bit naff. There is nothing spontaneous, raw or exciting about this album.
Except the first track!
It's almost as if they wrote and recorded that track and thought "Holy shit this is amazing, let's quickly write some more stuff and get it recorded and sell an album!"
But perhaps part of me is just jealous of the absolute precision with which these guys have velcroed together their target audience and their music. This will be a popular album and it will make them lots of money, and hey good on 'em because a lot of time and effort has gone into this and it really shows. But at the same time it's sad, because it makes me realise we're still in the era of boy bands and girl power pop, except in the approaching new decade it's clear that "Indie Rock" has taken the reigns from the RnB and Pop guys.
This is future of commercial music, and it's pretty banal.
Except the first track!
So... have a listen and buy the tunes for a very reasonable price at iTunes or by going to buildingrome.bigcartel.com
If you're a fan of "Story of the Year" / "Fallout Boy" sort of stuff you'll love the whole album, and if you think like me you'll cringe. But seriously, that first song: wow. Alone in it's incandescent brilliance it outweighs the naffness of the rest of the album. For that I doff my hat to Building Rome, who have shiny roads of success ahead of them. Well done guys.
-Building Rome's MySpace-.
Hox Vox is an artist whose roots are in DaDa-ism, yet consistently pumps out the antithesis of DaDa: The Concept Album. He is a strange one to pin down and describe, not least because his music is absolutely and completely, irrevocably, inaccessible. Yet he doesn't care. With an intellect rarely found he composes vast works of epic proportions that are meticulously sculpted to instil the most severe sense of unease in the listener. And yet, it is thoroughly enjoyable.
In this latest instalment of the bizarre series of works that is Hox's discography, we journey through several intriguing portraits of Norse Gods, and eventually find ourselves on the battlefields of Ragnarök. Having been dealt an onslaught of arpeggiated midi notes, barrages of drum fills, ever shifting keys, innumerable time changes and mind-boggling blitzkriegs of unintelligible sounds, we arrive at the end and say “What the fuck just happened?”
A work with such power is a diamond in the rough.
Mjöllnir comes with a .pdf booklet, a gorgeous treasure with breathtaking artwork and liner notes with information about each track. For a concept album without lyrics this is a convenient way of portraying the portraits and storyline. Had I have been listening without reading this booklet I would be lost amidst the swirling notes and complete lack of consistency in tonal and modal qualities. As I said, it is inaccessible. Yet it is the combination of the booklet and the music that creates coherence, and makes for a compelling, engaging experience. This is not surprising from an artist who is also an extremely competent video producer. His whole schtick is multi-media in the true sense of the word “multi”. His art aims to immerse as many of the listener's senses as possible in imagery to convey his message.
But what is his message? Well here we get back to his DaDa roots. DaDa was the art that defied art, and I have always felt whilst listening to Hox Vox's music that it is a product of entropy - a breaking down of preconceptions of what art should be, whilst at the same time raising the stakes of what is expected of a listener and their engagement with the work. I say entropy because in the end we have two polar opposites – breaking down perceptions and building up imagery – that meet comfortably in the middle, at a point of stasis. Whilst the sounds coming from this album are like a tornado, the eye at its centre is the solid, unwavering conclusion of “lofty ideal meets pragmatic delivery”.
In case you can't tell, this music gives me a lot to think about. I have often thought as I listen to Hox Vox's albums that they are dissecting me more than I am them. If you want to know what the fuck I'm talking about, download this album, completely free, from Jamendo. It can also be legally bit-torrented, which is a fantastic way of getting the music out there (yes people are seeding it, I got it in 30 minutes).
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.
Frontman Matt Bellamy’s voice is pure heaven. I once asked a friend if he liked Muse and he said “No, because the guy sings in falsetto.” Well… W. T. F. That would be like saying you don’t like Van Gogh because he used a wide paint-brush, or the Eiffel Tower is ugly because of what metal it’s made out of. It’s a style of singing, and not only is it perfectly warranted as a part of Muse’s overall sound, it augments it. He has the ability to bridge the gap between the higher register and the lower seamlessly, something that takes a lot of practice and dedication to the art of singing. And it doesn’t stop with his voice; anyone who has seen them live can attest that his piano and guitar skills are ludicrously good, and on their studio albums the layering of these elements is nothing short of divine.
But hang on, aren’t there more members in the band? Yes, and they are, too, incredibly talented. I especially like Chris Wolstenholme’s bass and always-in-the-background yet never unnoticed backing vocals, and drummer Dominic Howard is simply outstanding. Yet Bellamy’s voice will always be the defining thing about Muse, and on this album it delivers, with soothing, uplifting and soaring timbre, the usual message of love and regret, themes of world unification, disestablishmentarianism (I’m sorry I couldn’t think of a better word), and conspiracy theories.
The album holds together very well, a thoroughly enjoying experience from start to finish, and you wouldn’t expect anything less. I think where some people get their dislike of this album from is that they don’t realise Muse are not a “heavy rock” band. They have always shone on softer tracks like “Falling Down”, “Screenager”, and who could forget “Unintended”. This softness is interwoven very deep in the fabric of the album, probably off-putting newbie Muse fans who expected the slightly harder-edged nature of their previous release, “Black Holes and Revelations”, yet it is done in a gorgeous way, utilising string sections, sweeping pads and lush vocal layering. This is particularly evident in the three-part magnum opus of the album, “Exogenesis Symphony”. Symphony is definitely the right word to use here, although Muse has been known to label their music rather strangely (Bellamy has been cited calling “Supermassive Black Hole” an RnB track).
All in all it’s another Muse album and another winner, simple as that. People will look back on the 00’s and remember Muse as legendary, and fans the world over, myself included, sincerely hope they continue making great music like the luscious, scintillating, operatic and 5 star album that is “The Resistance”.
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.
So why does it suck?
Quite simply, these guys are playing in the wrong key. The tonality and action of their guitars are aligned for heavy metal, as is the drumming with its heavy kick drum and outstanding fills. All is aligned for neck-snapping flat-fifths and dark, minor chords. Yet they're playing this major key happy pop stuff. With heavy palm-muted guitars. !? It is just completely incongruous. And ugly, totally ugly, devoid of life or passion, and impossible to like.
The engineer of these albums is the only one with any vision, utilising fantastic production techniques that make these packages radio friendly for sure, but the stations that play this kind of stuff, wellvomitpukeergh oh excuse me.
You get the idea. Guys, if you're reading this: STOP with the happy pop crap and do a complete 180 into the heavy metal you were born to play, even if it means firing your current songwriter, for this incarnation of Dear Noel is a dead end.
I have nothing more to say.
Both EPs "Party Fouls" and "Hope You Get To Heaven Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" are available from Simple Stereo, if you want to listen to some really, really naff music.
1. of the surrounding area or environment.
2. completely surrounding; encompassing.
This music envelopes you. If you close your eyes it takes you to another place, a place fabricated from the tonality and texture of the pieces, that are “of the surrounding area or environment”. Yet it is a surreal environment, a place that doesn’t exist in the “normal world”. This is true ambience, yet there are no chirping birds or wind through bamboo to be found here. The music takes your hand, quite gently at first, and leads you to a door to another plane. If you resist it grabs you more firmly and pushes you through.
Haunting, disquieting, the ghost-like atmosphere of this compelling album is made up from a variety of only vaguely familiar sounds, like the dropping of water in a deep cavern, yet not quite. Like two discordant notes played on a sitar, yet not quite. And the whole time, there is an emptiness that conveys vast reaches of uninhabited space. Merely the Universal Hum of something borne of chaos. With swirling dynamics and disparate textures this powerful album comes at you from all sides. It is often quite scary, feeling as if everything is closing in on you, yet that is part of its magick.
Nezumi is a lover of the metaphysical, the mystical and the unknown. His attempt at creating soundscapes that depict the multitude of parallel universes and dimensions, so far away from normality yet always deep within our souls, is realised quite incredibly on his latest album.
When I first listened to a release of his in late ’07, it sounded like a kid toying with midi for the first time. Although I could tell there was so much he wanted to convey, the instrumentality was primitive and thus did not do his imagery justice. A few years and two releases later (that I’ve heard, there are more), I’m amazed at how he has progressed as an artist.
This music is truly the definition of ambient, “completely surrounding; encompassing”. And of course, I wouldn’t be raving about it so much if it weren’t my favourite sort of music: Dark. Very, very Dark.
Set to release in early 2010, this album is now available as a pre-release from sendspace.
(that link will expire so get it quick)
The Ambience has spoken, and it demands you take a trip through another dimension...
Nezumi's artist page at LastFM
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)
At least, that's where the album takes me, and I didn't even grow up in that era. I think, however, this is a testament to the depth of the vibes coming from this album, its ability to conjure scenarios in the head of the listener that are externally sourced. The sounds do more than just stimulate memory or imagination, they add to the mind's repertoire of imagery. Northcape has always described his music as depicting and reflecting nature, and I think this is the essence of it: it's music that depicts the world we live in, from those psychedelic loungerooms to the moors of Scotland, a quiet urban street at midnight to a backyard pergola and a windchime in Autumn. All of it is part of nature, part of our world, our collective consciousness, that we can thus associate with.
The deep, mellow, and layered sounds strike a chord with the part of the soul that is in tune with nature, with the earth, and is perhaps just the medicine required in today's pacey world where people like me get bored without a lava lamp to look at. 4 stars.
Freshly released today, available from Sun Sea Sky Productions. Enjoy.