Friday, February 29, 2008

This Is Your Captain Speaking - Storyboard

Artist: This Is Your Captain Speaking
Album: Storyboard
Label: Resonant
Year: 2005

01. Gathering Pieces
02. 6pm
03. A Wave To Bridget Fondly
04. Weathered
05. Lift
06. Henry & Maximus
07. Angels


Describing a band like This Is Your Captain Speaking can be very difficult, especially when you try to avoid overused terms like "post-rock" or "ambient shoegaze", but I'd rather avoid using those descriptions for this Melbourne, Australia based instrumental band. And not because TIYCS doesn't play post-rock/ambient shoegaze, but rather because their music just doesn't stop there. Storyboard is the bands debut full-length, and was originally released by the band itself. After selling out of the original pressing, UK based Resonant Label reissued this fine masterpiece. The fact that this record is a debut is hard to believe, because the trio effortlessly plays with (equal to or more) passion than Godspeed You Black Emperor, they have just as much climatic emotion as Mogwai, and they easily rival Explosions In the Sky with their epic, cinematic sweepings. And yeah, all this on a 7 song, 66 minute debut! The record title (Storyboard) is very telling of the bands ability to communicate through mood, tone, and pace, and while there are no vocals to speak of, Storyboard speaks to me in ways only the most powerful post-rock music can. "Gathering Pieces" is an 18 minute introduction that does anything but lull me to sleep, despite its peaceful transitions. A typewriter sets off the rhythm of "6pm", a song that relies on soft drones and subtle delays. Think Disappear Here by Yellow6 (minus the electronics) and you'd be close. "A Wave To Bridget Fondly" also extends the 10 minute mark, but TIYCS displays their unique ability to transition and crescendo as if they're floating on air. More traditional guitar tones emerge on "Weathered", allowing the listener to hear a band that doesn't hide behind a bag of tricks. The intensity builds in "Lift" as guitars seem to crash into each other and the wall-of-sound atmosphere rages with dynamic passion. This is something I hear numerous times throughout Storyboard. At the risk of sounding cliché, there is a passion in these songs that is sooo evident in the recording. I'm almost left with an emotional high by the time the CD is over. Guitars dance around the melody and rhythm of "Henry & Maximus". It's the most playful of the bunch, and gives you the sense that while TIYCS takes their craft seriously, there is still a light-hearted air to their craftsmanship. Epic album closer "Angels" makes use of chimes, mandolin, and metallophone to help create a heavenly soundscape of whimsical, unearthly melody. Resonant packaged this glorious transient album in a digipak case, and the band enclosed a 12 page booklet with Storyboard sketches. This album is a wonderful experience end to end. For fans of Mogwai, Sigur Ros, GYBE, EITS, and Yellow6. An absolute MUST HAVE! (-review from The Black & White Mag (UK))

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Katabatic - Vago

Artist: Katabatic
Album: Vago
Label: Self Released
Year: 2007

01. 03.17.00
02. The munchausen syndrome
03. Rising nebula
04. Falling purple blue
05. Midnight glow


Wikipedia provides a nice explanation of Katabatic's name:

A katabatic wind, from the Greek word katabatikos meaning "going downhill", is a wind that blows down a topographic incline such as a hill, mountain, or glacier...The cold form of katabatic wind originates in a cooling, either radiatively or through vertical motion, of air at the top of the mountain, glacier, or hill. Since the density of air increases with lower temperature, the air will flow downwards, warming adiabatically as it descends, but still remaining relatively cold. Cold katabatic winds are frequently found in the early hours of the night when the solar heating has ceased and the ground cools by emitting infrared radiation. Cold air from extratropical cyclones may contribute to this effect....Katabatic winds are sometimes experienced by yachts at anchor. They often appear after a windless evening and arrive an hour or two after dark. They can blow very hard (up to gale force) for about an hour before dying away. This can be a frightening experience as the anchor may have been set with only the expectation of light winds and the yacht can easily have its anchor dragged. Katabatic winds can go up to 200 miles per hour.

This is the perfect summary of this Portuguese quartet's sound. Wedging itself somewhere between the explosive ambience of Jakob and the cutting experimentalism of Set Fire to Flames, Katabatic explore a distinctly otherwordly sound on Vago. Aside from the initial track, "03:17:00," which sees the band steadily building in intensity, Vago employs the method of aimless meandering followed by the construction of brief, unexpected walls of sound. These explosions are extremely rough and aggressive, yet they lack the punch we generally like to see. Most likely, this is a result of the muddied production; on one hand the low-budget approach creates a dense atmosphere which does the namesake well, but on the other, it also hides much of the subtlety in the compositions which inevitably take the edge off the more focused exchanges.

As such, the majority of Vago comes off as gimmicky. It's taken Jakob years to hone its craft to a true art form, and without the artistic proficiency of Set Fire to Flames, much of Katabatic's material is superfluous. To the band's credit, when simplicity is in sight there is much to love. Moments on "Rising Nebula" and "Midnight Glow" are magnificent, with icy guitar lines and the faintest hints of ambience burning into our hearts. When more ambitious plans are set, an ineptitude in balancing becomes readily apparent. At the time being we can't really appreciate Vago more than just for its theoretical contributions, but perhaps one day soon Katabatic will be more than just hot air - Lee Whitefield(

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Callisto - Noir

Artist: Callisto
Album: Noir
Label: Fullsteam Records
Year: 2006

01. Wormwood
02. Latterday Saints
03. The Fugitive
04. Backwoods
05. A Close Encounter
06. Pathos
07. Folkslave
08. Woven Hands

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Callisto, Finland's gift to the progressive metal scene. Their type of calm, atmospheric and melodic metal has been often compared to the likes of Isis, Mastodon, Neurosis and Cult Of Luna. Ultimately the band combines the sluggish elements of doom metal with the harsh ingredients of hardcore. In 2001, Callisto self-released their debut single "Dying Desire". Their debut Fullsteam Records release was their 2003 MCD "Ordeal of the Century". In 2004 the band released their debut full-length album "True Nature Unfolds", which was globally reissued in 2005 through Earache Records. Through the new label, the band got their much needed word-wide exposure. "True Nature Unfolds" really stabilized the style of the band and now, in 2006 the band has returned with a new full-length album, "Noir".

The album kicks off with "Wormwood", a fine example of what this band is capable of; beautiful symbiosis between atmospheric guitar melodies and harsh growling vocals. As an refreshing change, the band introduces some brass-instruments on this track. The track-lengths on this album vary from five to almost ten minutes; these epic pieces of art are really something you need to go deep into, before really understanding them completely. "Backwoods" is a calm and beautiful, barely a minute-long interlude. "Pathos" begins with nice flute-like synth sounds and eventually explodes with the harsh growling vocals and heavier guitars. With "Noir", the band has evolved into a more artsy direction. A fine example of this is the fact that the band focuses more on the instruments rather than on vocals. It is very rare that a Finnish band succeeds in creating something as original as Callisto.

Simply put, "Noir" is a true chill out album for every agitated hardcore-head out there. If you enjoy beautiful guitar melodies with growling vocals, then this thing is made for you. "Noir" was released on May 10th through Fullsteam Records.

-Teemu Hakala(

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Manatees - Tour EP: We Are Going To Track Down And Kill Vintage Claytahh, The Beard Burning Bastard

Artist: Manatees
Album: Tour EP: We Are Going To Track Down And Kill Vintage Claytahh, The Beard Burning Bastard
Label: Self released
Year: 2007

01. Silver & Vine
02. Old Man Oak
03. The Juniper Tree
04. The Pulp Cut
05. Melee Cut


I don’t expect you to go out of your way to find this (your mind, maybe), and even if you tried you’d probably fail. It’s one of those rarities, a hand-numbered, limited-edition offering that really is limited. And hand-numbered. Yes, you’ll find it online and at its makers’ shows, but said act don’t really do all that many gigs. And it’s to Manatees' credit that they don’t. Pat their backs and shake their hands – if they were on the road every weekend there’d be little need for any other acts of their ilk to bother setting up for a night of second-rate rocking.

And that ilk, exactly? Questionable and open to debate but undeniably loud. This cacophony is something you feel even with the volume down; close the curtains and dim the lights and let it lift you clean out of your seat and up into an otherworldly state of mind that so few cosmic travellers have ever traversed. King Crimson, Sunn O))), Comets On Fire: there are elements of these acts here, but they’re distorted, radiation from some collapsing star speckling them with an alien fire that burns harder and faster than this band’s slow-motion approach to ear-shredding alludes to initially. There’s a rawness to these five songs that comes on like a rash; it itches, infecting the skin and later the senses until the body is powerless to do anything but nod itself in time to the thundering drum beats and snarled vocals.

Some of which, incidentally, come courtesy of Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson. Suitably-cum-predictably unhinged, he who is so often unclothed come a show’s end lays down the incomprehensible like it was gospel; around him, churning soundscapes twist colours from convulsing rocks, reds and yellows, blues like those of a flame unattended, licking from a Bunsen so full of science lab-destroying promise. Although not as instantaneously gratifyingly intense as its predecessor, the wrongly-untitled debut reviewed here, there’s an enveloping subtlety that eventually permeates any resistance initially erected to We Are Going To…’s layered unravelling. It doesn’t grab you from the off, but that’s a quality that lends itself wonderfully to spades of longevity.

The closest they’ve yet come to capturing the jaw-dropping spectacle of their live set, the Carlisle three-piece’s latest release is another step towards the establishment of Manatees as these isles’ greatest exponents of Isis-ish Neurosomethings. But it also exhibits confident potential enough to suggest that the trio can, eventually, outshine even the acts dominating the field they have chosen for the sowing of their oats. See them live at your earliest convenience and buy this actually-limited-edition release while you’re there. If you’re disappointed, DiS will present you with a full refund. After pulling out your liar's tongue, that is. -by Mike Diver (

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mountain Men Anonymous - Krkonose

Artist: Mountain Men Anonymous
Album: KrKonose
Label: My Kungfu
Year: 2004

01. Xanexxx
02. Quim
03. Dolph Lundgren
04. Finding Heart Through Pain
05. We Stole Your Rhyming Dictionary
06. Bringing Out Your Dead
07. Out of Europe
08. Weep
09. If All Else Fails


Mountain Men Anonymous is a band formed in Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales in the year 1999. At the beginning of the year 2000, two of the original members of the band left and then where replaced by Lorna. Later that year, they released their self-titled EP. In 2001 they released their self-titled debut and a 7" single split with Teflon Monkeys. Between 2001 and 2004 Lorna left the band and the group stayed as a trio. Sam, John and Adam continued making music and in 2004 they released their album called "Krkonose" which is their most known around indie circles. Mountain Men Anonymous' sound can be seen as a mix of electronica, trip-hop and post-rock. They are currently on "indefinite hiatus." Two members of the band, Sam and John, went on to form another band called Zail.
-Ruben Dario(

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Tusk - The Resisting Dreamer

Artist: Tusk
Album: The Resisting Dreamer
Label: Hydrahead Records
Year: 2007

01. The Everlasting Taste of Disguise
02. Cold Twisted Aisle
03. Life's Denial
04. The Lewdness and Frenzy of Surrender


This is the latest CD from Tusk, which includes three members of Pelican (guitarist Trevor de Brauw, bassist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec and drummer Larry Herwig) along with new co-vocalists Evan Patterson (Breather Resist) and Toby Driver (Kayo Dot).The Resisting Dreamer finds Tusk moving away from the "avant-grind" of their last album into a little different, but still very unique territory. It's one of those albums that's hard to describe, a diverse and eclectic mix of genres that includes noise, doom, space rock, stoner metal and a few others. The music ranges from slow, simple dirges to fast, complex songs to unusual and experimental tracks that are sometimes noisy and dissonant, other times subdued and groovy.The album is one long song divided into 4 tracks, and the last one clocks in at 16 minutes and is all instrumental. The different genres, styles and moods described above are all packed into a relatively short album. The Resisting Dreamer is an avant-garde CD that is aggressive, complex, and always interesting.
- Chad Bowar (

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Omega Massif - Geisterstadt

Artist: Omega Massif
Album: Geisterstadt
Label: Radar Swarm
Year: 2007

01. In Der Mine (In The Mine)
02. Geisterstadt (Ghosttown)
03. Nebelwand (Fog Zone)
04. Unter Null (Below Zero)
05. Arcanum
06. Exodus


The album "Geisterstadt" is a sequel to the demo "Kalt", which described a cold, dangerous but beautiful landscape of stone and ice.
In "Geisterstadt" the auditor takes refuge in an old silvermine and the song "In Der Mine" describes the way through the dangerous caves inside of the mountain.
The journey continues in a forsaken boom town. Songs 2-6 describe the impressions, such an old mountain town ewokes.
A stunning debut from this German quartet, Geisterstadt ("Ghost Town" in German) weaves a tale of ancient abandoned silver mines, treks through deep mountain tunnels, and forsaken boom towns illustrated through Omega Massif's massive instrumental metal. Slow and brooding, the songs on Geisterstadt bring flurries of soaring melodic guitar lines to elephantine riffage descended from Pelican's Australasia and a dustbowl ambience that sounds like what Earth's Hex mighta sounded like if Dylan Carlson had injected that album with a high level of chugging saurian metalcore. The voiceless nature of the music turns the focus on pure atmosphere, and they deliver it, layering the pulverizing repetitive metalchug with a sense of gloom and longing that becomes near-suffocating at times, but there are also lots of gorgeous ethereal melodies that remind me of Year Of No Light - not too surprising then that this album came out on Radar Swarm, the French label run by Johan from Year Of No Light and home to a host of amazing, arty metalcore/"post-metal" bands like YONL, Spinning Heads, Gantz, and Cortez. Sure, Omega Massif are following fairly closely in the footsteps of bands like Pelican, Year Of No Light and Isis with their debut, but their mix of meditative, epic ambient rock and destructively heaviness is so perfectly rendered that I can't get enough of this album. The last track "Exodus" in particular is a scorcher, shifting between crushing percussive riffage and wobbly Loveless-esque guitar float that ends in a lethal metalcore breakdown. Quite the burly closer. This disc also has some great artwork, the packaging depicting sepia-toned photographs of ghostly abandoned mining towns.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Black Mountain - In The Future

Artist: Black Mountain
Album: In The Future
Label: Jagjaguwar
Year: 2008

01. Stormy High
02. Angels
03. Tyrants
04. Wucan
05. Stay Free
06. Queens Will Play
07. Evil Ways
08. Wild Wind
09. Bright Lights
10. Night Walks
Bonus CD
01. Bastards Of Light
02. Thirteen Walls
03. Black Cat

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During the nearly three years between Black Mountain's self-titled debut album and its sophomore full-length In the Future, there had been extensive touring, a first attempt at recording which proved to be a false start of sorts (though some of those songs ended up here), and a kind of development that would seem radical if these Vancouverites weren't so quirky to begin with. Certainly, the roots of this sound are evident on the debut album. It's loaded with trippy neo-psych folk and rock tropes. But these are counterweighted with a drenched-in-prog-and-Sabbath bombast that makes the title seem ironic. If not laugh out loud funny. That's right: prog rock and Black Sabbath-like riffery and knotty, multi-part structures worthy of Greenslade are all entwined with pixie-ish protocol, acid-laced folk (think Melanie meets Sandy Denny meets Grace Slick's early period duets with Marty Balin and Paul Kantner on the Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow and Volunteers). The weird thing is, despite its obvious nods to rock collections, including not only Sabbath's Master of Reality but Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick, Hawkwind's Warrior on the Edge of Time, Peter Hammill's entire Charisma period, Eloy's first three albums, Rush's 2112 (where some of these rather drenched-in-warped-myth lyrics were derived from; but then they're Canadians too), and Led Zep's Physical Graffiti, with a touch of the optimism of Thunderclap Newman and Graham Nash -- all is tempered by Neil Young's sleepy delivery -- sometimes in the same song! The sheer heaviness of tracks like "Stormy High," that wails out of the gate with guitars in full pummel riffage, fuzzed out bassline, and floor tom, bass drum, hi hat fury are stretched out by layers of Mellotrons! Then, Stephen McBean and Amber Webber begin wailing wordlessly à la "Immigrant Song," before McBean takes the lead vocal and you're ready for your space rock pith helmet! Where's Michael Moorcock when you need him? He's about all that's missing. It gets more insistent before it lets up with the starting-in-fifth-gear "Tyrants," that winds and wends its way through a multi-dimensional journey densely packed with sonic wonkery, key and time changes, and the feeling of a journey through time and space for over eight minutes. The sheer sonic throb is balanced by long, droning Mellotron and analogue synth drones, tribal, chant-like drumming, and the pleading, world-weary, vulnerable voice of McBean. It's quite a thing, but it's only a precursor to the truly epic "Bright Lights" near the end of the set that rages on for nearly 17 minutes. Fuzzy electrics, shimmering acoustics, and trance-like keyboards flit in and out between the alternating vocals of McBean and Webber. The music picks up intensity, shifts direction numerous times, and careens across the rock and folkscapes of rock's history from the late '60s through the '70s with great focus, wit, and ambition. There are other things like this here, too, with the utterly beautiful and tender lysergic folk explorations in "Stay Free," where unplugged six-strings, tambourine, McBean's falsetto, and Webber's harmony are seamless, as of one voice. The lyrics are direct, but the sheer sparseness of the mix (organs hover in the backdrop) stands in such sharp contrast to "Wucan" and "Tyrant" that it's like a wake-up call from the ether. (Movie music directors, take heed: this is the one you want for those long reflective moments where the two main characters have parted to rethink their positions.) It picks up, but never too much; the bridge is wonderfully constructed with just enough ornamentation to take it up a notch texturally and dynamically. "Wild Wind," clocking in under two minutes could be a lost Kevin Ayers' outtake. It's only a shame it's so brief. "Evil Ways" -- no relation to the Santana number -- is all metallic stoner rock with rumbling, quaking tom toms, piercing guitars, and huge organs challenging one another to overcome the vocals. As atrocious as this all sounds, perhaps, it's actually quite wonderful and it works without faltering. For what it is, is a stunning extension of the root sound Black Mountain arrived with. Part of the credit has to go to John Congleton for his amazing mix. It's packed with stuff, but there's enough space here, and wonderfully warm atmospheres, to bring the listener right into the deeper sonic dimensions that Black Mountain is trying to create. That it's done without artificial sounding punch up or tons of digital effects makes it come together as a whole. There is no sophomore slump here. -by Thom Jurek (

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

destroyalldreamers - Wish I Was All Flames

Artist: destroyalldreamers
Album: Wish I Was All Flames
Label: Where Are My Records
Year: 2007

01. Wish I Was All Flames
02. Cendres En Transe
03. Automne
04. A Summer Without You
05. Le Pianiste Météorologique
06. My Eyes Were On The Dancefloor
07. Perdre Est Une Question De Méthode
08. Her Brother Played The Riot (Pt.1)
09. Her Brother Played The Riot (Pt.2)
10. Her Brother Played The Riot (Pt.3)


I've never been too fond of this subset of instrumental music often referred to as shoegaze. That is not to say I don't enjoy it, because I do, but I do stop short of calling myself a 'fan' due to my lack of experience in the genre. I have listened to several years of shoegazing bands develop, but never listened intently enough to form any kind of lasting impression. To some extent, that is slightly the point, I suppose. The sheer aesthetics inherent in this type of music dissuade you from listening intently by making the immediately noticeable exterior satisfying enough for most people. This is even how i felt upon listening to Destroyalldreamers' first effort A Coeur Leger Sommeil Sanglant. Though it was a confident collection of songs, it lacked a certain addictive quality that, thankfully Wish I Was All Flames exhibits handsomely.

Though this album has all the trademark sounds and clichés rife in the shoegaze genre, it somehow manages to display them with such panache and skill that listening further never becomes difficult. The hardest part of the whole experience is reminding yourself that you have things to do, and that sitting around all day listening to one album develop on each listen is not only quite counter-productive, but it's also a bit unnecessary. Such is the "learning curve" on this release is that it's cleverly applied so you can not listen for days and then pick the headphones and be right back where you were when you left off.

Tracks like "Automne," reminiscent of Bowery Electric, are typical of the smooth quality of many tracks on this collection, beginning with a simple bass-line then lifted almost instantly with a phased, panned shimmering guitar chord-drone. Most of the tracks develop this way, yet it doesn't come off as boring, or samey. More as a way to have a thread of continuity throughout the album, and it works very well. The album finishes on the exceptional trio of "Her Brother Played the Riot," which are a lot more ambient and atmospheric. All of these pieces are beautifully continuous and act as a sort of denouement from the rest of the collection, leaving the listener in a trance-like state.

The only discernible problem I have with this release is that, at times, it feels like the middle sections of the songs could in fact be interchangeable. While that is no bad thing per-se, it does tend to make things have less of an impact than if the sections were clear-cut, but then herein lies a lot of the appeal. As it is now, Wish I Was All Flames is an incredibly competent and desirable collection, and it faulters in very few places -- a golden moment in shoegazing, and a fantastic return for Destroyalldreamers.
-by Barry Smethurst (

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North - Ruins

Album: Ruins
Label: Valse Records
Year: 2007

01. The Black Gate
02. Ethereal Uncovering
03. Ruins
04. Nex In March
05. Ash
06. Farewell When The Road Darkens


Only a short time after releasing their EP, Siberia, Arizona instrumental post rock band, North, bring us their more fine tuned Ruins EP. North can be easily summarized as a mix between Explosions In The Sky and Isis, though they are void of vocals, and have much shorter track lengths. Although this 28 minute disc could be a tad longer, these short songs are jammed with the most epic of sounds.
The opening track “The Black Gate” showcases a darker side and sets the mood for the following five tracks, which all seem to be somewhat morbid, yet beautiful all at once. The conclusion to the first song is an explosive attack of sludgy tones, and once the barrage is over, the following track’s beauty begins, where you’ll later bear witness to that one's angst.
North also has the ability to combine their heavier parts with melodic guitar leads very nicely, such as in the middle of “Nex In March” with its stomping beat, almost like a march indeed, accented by heavy hits of the floor tom which suddenly becomes less offensive as the layers of atmospheric guitars are played over the top. Sections like these are very common on this six track CD, but the battles amongst sludge and spacious guitars, amplified with serious amounts of delay, are the parts that send chills down the listener’s spine. This EP could have easily been titled Beauty And The Beast and it would have made so much sense, although it would have sounded completely stupid.
The title Ruins fits this EP very well, as this album reminds me of a soundtrack to a dying planet with its melancholy dark side, and out lash of angelic and aggressive climaxes. If this record were just a tad bit longer, I’d be willing to give it close to a perfect score. It’s quite possible that these two EPs are just a taste of what’s to come and North are going to unleash a full length in the near future. Hopefully the band hasn’t taken any of my advise for the name of that album.
-Chris Pandolfo(

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Blueneck - Scars of the Midwest

Album: Scars of the Midwest
Label: MSI Music
Year: 2006

01. The Hills Have Eyes
Judas! Judas!
03. Oig
04. Le-465
05. Ub1
06. Epiphany
07. Ub2
08. Amoc
09. Yesterday's Forgotten


It has taken six years for this release to come to fruition since the group's formation in 2000, a period in which they have transformed from regulars on the West Country gig scene to virtual recluses.

Locked away in the studio for a year and a half with producer Corin Dingley - one half of trip hop duo Alpha - the band must have been depressed on those cold, dark nights when the tracks just wouldn't come together and it shows with the results of their stay being at times throat-slittingly bleak.
The whole album segues together into one extended dark soundscape with clear influences from past and present post-rock luminaries. Indeed the leanings go even further back on opening track, The Hills Have Eyes, with its very old school Pink Floyd psychedelic sound.
It would have to be said that it is the element of psychedelia, be it through the use of keyboards or samples, constant throughout the album that stands Blueneck apart from the likes of Mogwai and Godspeed and gives them an identity of their own, something not easy to achieve in such a crowded genre.
The links to these bands is undeniable however, especially in the threatening piano on the brooding Judas! Judas!, a track that slowly builds from a sparse landscape to one filled with those monsters that had been lurking around the corner since its beginning.
Around half of the tracks on Scars Of The Midwest are instrumental, the first to feature the breathy voice of Duncan Attwood though is the bizarrely titled Oig, another slow burner that transcends into a wall of sound. Meanwhile, the distorted vocal on the tranquil Le:465 is just beautiful, sounding just like an English Sigur Ros.
Ub1 is Eno-inspired ambience and a chance to reach for the tissues before the tear-jerkingly depressing Epiphany, a track of epic proportions and one of the most emotional you are likely to hear in 2006. Samples are used to very scary effect on this one, distorted to give the impression of ghostly voices coming from your stereo speakers.
The sonic effect during Ub2 is also quite something as the sound crashes around the listener like waves in a violent ocean, thanks in the main to Ben Green's soaring guitars. The stunning Amoc is the album's masterpiece however. By far the most uplifting track as lightly caressed drums are merged with vocal harmonies and atmospherics.
Yesterday's Forgotten rounds off the album, a re-working of an early Blueneck song, stripped down with careful precision into a spooky finale for what is a fine debut effort for the West Country outfit. If we are lucky maybe they will come out of the studio and perform it live for us now.

- Paul Woloszyn (

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Friday, February 15, 2008

The American Dollar - American Dollar

The American Dollar
Album: American Dollar
Label: Yesh Music
Year: 2006

01. War On Christmas
02. Glow
03. Cambian
04. Somnambulance
05. Long March
06. Seperate But Equal
07. Peterson
08. Thompson
09. Twelve Days Awake
10. Everyone Gets Shot


The American Dollar's debut album, released in February 2006, was met with immediate success and acclaim. The album's recording began in August 2005, with the members of American Dollar emerging from previous bands, looking to move in a completely new direction and creative outlet. Selling thousands of copies solely via their website, The American Dollar quickly established a name for itself with it's eponymous debut. Notable tracks from the release include War On Christmas, Peterson and Everyone Gets Shot. Many tracks from the album have since been used in Television and Film.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

This Will Destroy You - This Will Destroy You

This Will Destroy You
Album: This Will Destroy You
Label: Magic Bullet
Year: 2008

01. A Three - Legged Workhorse
02. Villa del Refugio
03. Threads
04. Leather Wings
05. The Mighty Rio Grande
06. They Move on Tracks of Never-Ending Light
07. Burial on the Presidio Banks


This Will Destroy You’s sophomore effort, quite appropriately self-titled, is undoubtedly a step forward for the band which superbly paid homage to its post-rock predecessors in 2006 with the demo-turned-debut Young Mountain. Now, with a couple more years of touring and songwriting under their belts, the band seems to have matured greatly, building upon their strengths and entering into 2008 with brand new monster of an album that they can truly call their own.
Evidence of the band’s growth is abundant in this self-titled release, though the underlying personality of their traditional sound is still quite present. From beginning to end, there is a lot to like about this album. Every sonic layer is incorporated in a deliberate and effective fashion, while taking time to let passages develop to their full potential, often lingering reflectively when necessary. The band also seems to have perfected their use of electronic percussion and effects, which provide a wonderful accent to the glowing guitar harmonies and seamless transitions without becoming overbearing or distracting at all. The album’s opening track, “A Three-Legged Workhorse” shows off what is perhaps the most original addition to the album—a magnificently textural electronic beat slowly fading in amidst the thick fog of feedback, which gently falls away just in time for the epic ensemble to do their work.
Above and beyond the obvious technical maturity, there is a clear sense of patience on this album, which has undoubtedly come solely with experience. While some songs do adhere to the typical “post-rock formula,” others dwell on smaller musical niches, proving that TWDY can still create killer tracks without the need for always including predictable build-ups, massive crescendos, or sometimes even any percussion at all; the 7-minute ambient passage “Villa Del Refugio” is a surprising but pleasing testament to this. Still, tracks like “Threads” provide just enough familiar structure to hold everything together, and are no less breathtaking than the rest.
As with many instrumental releases these days, there isn’t any one single feature that makes or breaks this album—it’s more about the overall aesthetic. It is the ability of the band to know just how much is really enough without going overboard; their acute sense of harmony and emotion, which lifts this album out of the cluttered pile of “pretty good” and onto the pedestal of amazing.
Since their first appearance, This Will Destroy You has continued to set itself apart by getting so right what so many other post-rock bands get so wrong. Their music, then and now, exhibits compassion, emotional complexity, stylistic innovation, and above all, sheer talent. While many groups think they can get by with just some expensive effects and simplistic melodies, these guys invest what seems like their entire souls into creating truly captivating instrumental passages. If there is any group today who can lead the post-rock genre to new heights, it is undoubtedly This Will Destroy You.
-Sean Butze (

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Subarachnoid Space - The Red Veil

Artist: Subarachnoid Space
Album: The Red Veil
Label: Strange Attracktors
Year: 2005

01. Honorable Mention
02. Ourobouros
03. The Red Veil
04. Trainable
05. P.S.S.A.
06. Duster


Red Veil is instrumental, metallic neo-psychedelic hard rock of a brittle and grim sort. The spiraling and soaring guitars, often splintering into highly amplified staccato distortions, are driven along by a rhythm section of stoned-face determination, given an astral quality by the embellishments of a pulse generator. These six pieces never do escape from ominous riffs and progressions. If there are faint echoes of the journeys to the heart of the sun taken by Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, these aren't so much voyages for the thrill of discovery as steely resolutions to get on with it, bearing little expectation that what's found in the outer reaches of space will be a garden of delights. Certainly this is the work of a tight quartet, mastering their thick fuzz and mini-novas of sound with the assurance a weather-beaten captain brings to the steering wheel of his steamboat. At times they can lighten the assault with drifts of dissonant sound waves and tones, as you can hear in the opening of the 11-minute title track, and parts of "Trainable" actually border on metal-thrash, though high-volume rock is never too far off the radar screen. It's too enervating to have wide appeal as recreational listening, however, though it seems that SubArachnoid Space are very aware of that.
-Richie Unterberger (

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sparrows Swarm And Sing - Untitled II

Artist: Sparrows Swarm And Sing
Album: Untitled II
Year: 2005

01. Part I
02. Part II
03. Part III


Sparrows Swarm And Sing is one of the new additions to the growing Perpetual Motion Machine quality family. Being a young band, they can already show an impressive history of self-made and well-crafted limited releases. Untitled II originally is one of these as it was previously available only on limited vinyl and self-released cd-r formats. Now The Perpetual Motion Machine records is issuing a proper CD release of the band's 2005 album Untitled II.

And it seems as if the band continues the line of releasing its music in limited edition packages. The CD I'm holding here is a special first pressing, with beautiful screen-printed artwork on a cardboard sleeve. It really feels good to hold this album in your hands, while the mysterious artwork coincides with the exciting music of this post-rock collective.

Untitled II is an instrumental album that, totally in consistency with genre majors Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Silver Mt. Zion, Mono or Explosions In The Sky, is played as one big piece while the songs distinguish themselves as the parts in-between the relative silence. The album lives on the repetitive build-ups of timbre and dynamics. The warm sound of cello and violin add up to the smooth and lengthy instrumental vibe of this band and where warbly guitar layers start to get weak, the band manages to introduce arrangements that remind the listener they're actually still there. I'm thinking of the powerful drum parts in the song Part III, the not-so-interesting-anymore voice monologue movie(?) samples, or the slightly more interesting well-known baby sleep music tunes.

Almost scary sound crescendos stock up my excitement that floats around Untitled II. And the more I listen to it, the more this album grows on me and the moodier I get from it. In the end I have to admit that, although it's hard for this sort of band to distinguish themselves from the well-known Constellation type of groups, I really like what Sparrows Swarm And Sing does. Its songs are slightly more digestible than the classics mentioned above and the choice of a not too long album (approx. 25 minutes) does this band good. But still I'm afraid that unless these musicians try to add an inventive twist to the genre they're in, this band will never be able to stand up amongst the herd.


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Asbestoscape - Asbestoscape

Artist: Asbestoscape
Album: Asbestoscape
Label: Self released
Year: 2007

01. Arctic
02. Return
03. Mono
04. And So The Story Goes...
05. Like Shit Attracting Flies
06. Ashen
07. Thursday


A much debated topic in the underground music community is the overuse of strings of adjectives. 'Post-Emo-Metalcore', 'Neo-Folk-tronica', 'New-Wave-Psychedelic-Electro-Ethnic-Industrial', it goes on. It would make sense to assume that the reason for this is to try to convey a vague sense of what the album sound like, so that other people who may not be familiar with the genre have an idea of what to expect before listening. While this can sometimes work in a very amorphous way, it will never get to the true feeling behind the music itself.

In the case of Asbestoscape, this could never be more true. Part post-rock, part electronic, part drone, part metal... I could go on, but despite the proven theory that too many elements can sometimes be chaotic and detrimental, this works and it works quite well. This self-titled debut has a charm to it that grows with every listen, not too quickly and not without restraint, but it definitely does. The start of the album begins with a simple Isis-esque repeated guitar riff, but it slowly morphs into the next phases of the song. This pattern repeats itself through each piece, and through the boundaries between them relatively seamlessly, affecting blended theme changes.

After a few tracks, a distant reverb-soaked piano starts in "And So the Story Goes..." which slightly judders the well-calculated flow which has so far been established. This is resolved shortly afterwards, however, by some well-placed synthesizers and the introduction of the ominous sounding rhythm section.

While this is definitely a competent collection of tracks, and nicely formed into a cohesive album, it is not without its faults. "Faults" seems a very strong word here, but when several small niggling features present themselves together and are exacerbated by the repetitive nature inherent in this type of music, they become more noticeable. Because the first half of the album is so brooding, making room to slowly build and develop to imply tension and coming change, it becomes slightly disappointing when it doesn’t reach its expected peak. Asbestoscape actually remove some of the more climactic elements. The electronic drums, for example, give a sense of rushed melody against the tense deliberate guitar and pounce upon the listener after a minute or so of tuned feedback and rumbling bass. It is these rarely exploited juxtapositions that give the droning pieces their intrigue, and it seems a strange choice to leave out.

Miscalculation on the artists part is never a reason to dislike an album, but it does detract from the experience somewhat. Then again, after listening to the vast majority of the album, you tend to forget its failings. The challenge here is always going to be keeping the listeners attention while retaining the feeling associated with more lethargic metal. Asbestoscape manage to do this without much effort for the most part, and with only minor shortcomings in the rest. Indescribable, but definitely not nondescript. -Barry Smethurst (

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Lanterna - Lanterna

Artist: Lanterna
Album: Lanterna
Label: Candescence
Year: 1995

01. Silent hills
02. Down by the seine
03. Turbine
04. 1985
05. Dark spring
06. Passage
07. Colossus
08. End of the tunnel
09. Bells, falling
10. Down by the seine (drowning)
11. Ether net
12. No. 7 galerie des anciennes
13. Dragon season
14. Achieving oneness
15. Slides
16. Dawn
17. Puerto de luna


Like their pals in Scenic, Lanterna deals in moody instrumental rock with an accent on spaghetti Western film scores and a sideways glance at surf instrumentals; you'd never think of surfing when listening to this, but you might drive or crop dust to it. Lanterna is a little less prone to droning than Scenic (though "Dark Spring" is as good as ringing guitar drones get), with most tracks feeling like complete songs rather than impressionistic segues, part of an epic whole. The occasional vocal appears from time to time; "Down by the Seine," the only song with truly perceptable lyrics, might be a little too much like half-awake Chris Isaak for some. Judging from the spirally, echoey nature of the guitars, Henry Frayne appears to own a lot of early-'80s post-punk records (Dif Juz, the Comsat Angels, U2). His guitar work is the main attraction, whether it's charging through the well-titled "Turbine," adding numerous textures to "Passage," blasting a jarring buzz in "Colossus," or picking beautifully throughout "Dragon Season." With the exception of the spritely "Achieving Oneness," the whole thing carries a gray-skied melancholy feeling, ideal for a lonely drive through deserted plains of Iowa or Nebraska on a fall day. So here's where things get a little complicated; this release originates from a self-released 1992 cassette that featured half a dozen more songs. A label in Greece selected roughly half of the tracks and released it the same year on vinyl as Of Shapes That Haunt Thought's Wilderness. To add further confusion, a 1995 Parasol release (featuring artwork from IPR/Scenic's Bruce Licher) chose 17 of the original cassette's songs and was reissued in whole by Rykodisc in 1998; although the back of the Rykodisc release lists only ten numbers, the other seven are included as unlisted tracks.
-Andy Kellman (

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