Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grails - Take Refuge In Clean Living

Artist: Grails
Album: Take Refuge In Clean Living
Label: Important
Year: 2008

01. Stoned at the Taj Again
02. PTSD
03. 11th Hour
04. Take Refuge
05. Clean Living

pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

Now ass-deep in the new millennium, and “post-rock” has long since become the dirty word it always should have been. All well and good, mind you, save for the fact that it gets consistently trotted out for any rock-based band that decides to approach the dais sans vocals. There’s hardly anything to be said for the hollow art of the guitar-gasm at this point, and what worth may have been left in the genre died on a fictional football field in Texas sometime in 2007.

Portland’s Grails, however, wisely eschew such limp tendencies, favoring not the voiceless, dead-faced riff that supposed contemporaries in the “post-rock” field work until all meaning is stripped away, but instead a global, wide-angle take on psychedelic rock and improv. Since undergoing some major line-up shifts a few years back, it’s an approach they’ve worked like a charm twice before, both on Black Tar Prophecies, a series of off-the-cuff EPs, and Burning Off Impurities, their largely successful 2007 re-imagining of Turkish psych, blues-based Brit folk, and even a few subtle hints of Japanese-styled guitar malevolence.

When touring on this material Grails augmented their traditional four-piece line-up with drummer Ben Nugent, giving regular percussionist Emil Amos license to step to the front on guitar. Once off the road, the newly expanded group cut the five-song Take Refuge in Clean Living to document this latest chapter in their continued evolution. Though still walking much the same path that their two previous records did, this latest batch of tunes revels in a deeper expressiveness, one undoubtedly fostered by Amos’ non-drum contributions.

Coming in on the same high notes that carried their 2007 full-length, Grails open their latest with “Stoned at the Taj Again,” a lengthy composition that matches intricate guitar lines with delicate saz figures, building all the while to an ominous, percussive onslaught wrought with creeping dread. “PTSD” continues the strain, both in title and overall tonal sentiment, allowing gentle strums to take the lead, only to have them hit with the constant threat of capsize by a steadily encroaching wave of feedback and far-off tape manipulation.

Most surprising here, however, is “11th Hour.” Originally done in fine kitsch by the Ventures, Grails’ version retains only trace echoes, pulling the leads apart and muting the percussion until grim latticework of guitar remains. Better still is “Take Refuge,” a track that takes the group’s Turkish fascinations and blends in a flavor of Morricone, pairing a wheezing organ with spaghetti western guitars for a slow burn that gracefully fades into the distance, beginning the sweet finale of what is easily Grails’ third masterful record in an equally impressive run.-Michael Crumsho (dustedmagazine.com)

Official site
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Glowworm - The Coachlight Woods

Artist: Glowworm
Album: The Coachlight Woods
Label: Post Dog Productions
Year: 2008

01. Periphescence
02. Contrails
03. The Captive
04. Lux
05. Nightshores
06. Cracks In The Desert Sea of St. George
07. Lith
08. Into The Woods
09. Glow Scraped From The Earth

pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

In late 2006, Portland musicians Kevin Davis and Jesse Robert W. drove over 1000 miles to reach a secluded cabin in the desert of southern Utah. They removed themselves from all familiar reality, letting their recording efforts become saturated by the surrounding atmosphere. The result is music affected by a lost time and place, resonating the desert’s sweeping horizons, blood red plateaus, and ancient, hollow canyons.

Glowworm's sound is that of carefully crafted orchestral and atmospheric rock, supported by tasteful electronica. The Coachlight Woods ranges from explosive feedback-driven guitar passages, to intelligent, emotive neo-classical string arrangements. It is a reverb laden struggle through uncharted territory, offering a unique take on style in a genre too often filled with copycats.

Glowworm shares current members of the shoegaze band Pacific UV (also releasing a new LP on WARM records in Feb.), and has released a split 7" on Other Electricities records (Small Sails, Jatun). The Coachlight Woods is Glowworm's first full length LP, and is currently scheduled for self release in the U.S. on March 4th of '08.

“…a solo project bending the lines between indie rock and electronic/ambient…doesn’t hesitate as it dazzles the listener with stunning guitar lines and shimmering electronic support… …into your ears and hearts quicker than you’ll know what hit you.”

- The Silent Ballet.com

For fans of: Mogwai, The Album Leaf, Hammock, M83

Official site
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ghost Of The Russian Empire - The Mammoth

Artist: Ghost Of The Russian Empire
Album: The Mammoth
Label: self released
Year: 2008

01. A Decade Without Death
02. Hammer Hands
03. Mandroid
04. Dark
05. The Winter Soldier
06. Dresden
07. In The Borough Of A Beast
08. Bleeding Machines
09. The Black Mark
10. Mammoth
11. The White Sea
12. The Butcher

pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

On your knees, Plebeians! Kneel before the mighty power of the rock! Declare thy reverence for the grandeur of the electrified guitar, the rapture of perfectly recorded reverb, the commanding power of the kick drum! And, um, really moody vocals from this Texas dude named Brandon Whitten! Be thou humbled to encounter the sheer sonorous perfection of modern shoegazers Ghost of the Russian Empire, or their mammoth new full-length, uh, The Mammoth, shall not be unleashed before thine ears!
Seriously, though, this independent release by the Texas quartet fronted by Whitten is one hell of an album. It's got that sound -- that staggering, powerful combination of primal R'n'R ingredients exemplifying the form at its most artfully transcendent. Countless bands have been influenced by guitar-fuzz auteurs like My Bloody Valentine, but what puts Ghosts of the Russian Empire so far ahead of the pack? Maybe the decision to use wizardly producer Erik Wofford, who worked similar sonic magic for The Black Angels.
And it could be the molten churn of electric guitars heating up this platter, some of which were obviously played by Whitten, but Jason Pike and Ruben Anchondo (both credited on guitar/bass) also contributed. Then there's Whitten's haunted vocals, placed at a distance in the mix -- usually behind waves of reverb -- so you can't hear the lyrics very distinctly (although they're printed on the insert). But you can sure feel the emotions. There's something heavy in the air, these songs tell you, and it befits this band's unique moniker, which evokes the fall of something mighty and the disturbing residue left behind.
The disc offers a series of shadowy, unsettling musical portraits, and you don't need to decipher a single lyric to get utterly spooked and mesmerized at the same time. "Dark" is a gripping slow burner that features the sort of chord changes for which discerning ears are always grateful, while Whitten's keening voice hints at unspeakable tragedy. The mood continues with the incredible "Dresden," which sounds for all the world like Neil Young and Crazy Horse had Neil suddenly taken a coffee break and let Kevin Shields take over. Just listen to Mike Plata's Ralph Molina-like drumming, and the beautiful crunch of the guitars. A totally unexpected tempo change then elevates this track to genuine classic status.
"In the Borough of a Beast" is aptly named, with its piano and ominous beauty evoking a rapidly darkening sky. But "The Black Mark" might be the highlight of this remarkable platter. It begins with crisp acoustic guitar, then turns into an atmospheric tour de force that finds the band playing with incredible clarity of purpose, like they're lugging some hugely important object up a steep hill with the weight divided four ways, perfectly. The lead electric guitar cries out with transcendent beauty; it's some of the best axe work on any recent album.
And if you have a hankering for a nice, gloomy seven-minute dirge, you couldn't possibly do better than "The White Sea," a shiver-inducing journey through roiling sadness, Whitten's voice again amazing with its distant, anguished plaint. The track finds the band confidently surfing a wave of immersive ambient distortion near the end, leaving all competitors for this kinda sound behind. In short, The Mammoth is a killer album. In an age of pessimism and uncontrollable events, Ghost of the Russian Empire have made a soundtrack that's cathartic, illustrative and hypnotically beautiful. -by Kevin Renick (playbackstl.com)

Official site
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Land Of Nod - Reality Channel: An Introduction To The Land Of Nod

Artist: The Land Of Nod
Album: Reality Channel: An Introduction To The Land Of Nod
Label: Elephant Stone
Year: 2003

01. Ice Station Nod
02. Half-Light
03. Quadrant Zero (out-take)
04. Timeless Point
05. Parabolic Velocity
06. Filtration
07. Reality Channel
08. The Land of Nod (sunrise)
09. Chronicle Blueprint No. 1
10. Inducing the Sleep Shpere
11. Eddy
12. Masaki
13. Luminosity
14. Cadence
15. Mooger Superior

Download part2
pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

In the Land of Nod, percussion whispers, the bass whimpers, and guitars gently glide in a valley of delay effects. This collection of select tracks from its proper albums and radio sessions supports the U.K. duo's comparisons to Windy & Carl, Mogwai, and the ambient side of Spacemen 3. Guitarist Ant Walker and bassist Dave Battersby head up this ethereal journey through ambient instrumental rock, occasionally aided by piano ("Quadrant Zero") and percussion ("Chronicle Blueprint No. 1" and "Inducing the Sleep Sphere"). The eight-minute "Parabolic Velocity" is one of the Nod's finer moments, where a helicopter-like sound swirls around high-end, dreamy bass and ghostly tones. "The Land of Nod," a delightful piece that's reminiscent of mid-'80s Cocteau Twins or Swallow's Blow, soothes with its misty atmosphere. Other tracks slowly build, then drift away, bringing you along for a ride that induces a sleepy, sometimes trance-y state.-Kenyon Hopkin (allmusic.com)

Official site
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meniscus - Absence Of I

Artist: Meniscus
Album: Absence Of I
Label: Self Released
Year: 2007

01. Cusp
02. Pilot
03. Mother
04. Idiot Savant - Far

pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

Meniscus climbing insects rely on the surface tension of water to propel themselves without the use of appendages. Manipulating the surface to create movement, these insects can journey the daunting waterscape.....

Now, while this sounds decidedly pretentious (truth be told, it kind of is) my real fear is that trying to base an album on something as mysterious as an insects' unfathomable ability to convert their own muscular strain to surface energy to climb water would be a tad challenging. Not only for them (though I do worry about the bands well being, the nice guy that I am), but also for me to decipher and competently write about. Turns out that although the concept is, and has apparently always been at the forefront of their minds (the blurb at the top is from their own website), it doesn’t have to play a major part in the listening experience.

You may well let out a large sigh of relief at this last statement, but if I were you I would hold that breath for whatever release of theirs comes next, as you’ll be waiting for it not-so-patiently after hearing this EP. Absence Of I Is the debut release from Sydney three-piece Meniscus, and it’s very good indeed. In fact, very good doesn’t quite sum this up, it’s amazing.

Opener "Cusp" begins with a very typical post-rock style delayed/panned guitar riff with some reversed hums thrown in there, but any signs of typical song craft end there. After only 35 seconds, a crushing downtuned guitar kicks in, and almost instantly reveals the true musicianship of all three members of the band (that’s right, three). The same theme established at the start of the piece is continued throughout and beautifully varied so as to not bore the listener, but rather to string the songs together. The insect metaphor is not quite so noticeable, aside from a few samples of humming and buzzing thrown in to the mix but serves to enhance the experience, should you decide to bear it in mind.

As the collection continues, it becomes the drums that stand out more than anything at certain points (second track, "Pilot" for example) for the sheer urgency and drive they add to a very ordinary guitar riff. It is this contrast that makes Absence Of I so continually interesting, and strays away from the pit of bore that can come from music that is either over-complicated or sleep-inducingly simple. When one element steps up the pace, another element becomes less ornate, leaving room for all the instruments to move and develop without dazzling the listener with a wall of jagged sound.

A whole host of potential influences could be present here (apart from the ‘heat, light, season and moisture...’ they so eloquently state on their myspace) depending on which part you listen to. While it is in essence, post-metal themed, it encompasses a huge variety of styles, from fellow Oceanians Jakob to Los Angeles' Isis, to prog-rock classics like King Crimson via the Deftones, and as much as I hate to pepper my reviews with band names, it made me think of all four of those bands and countless more. How then has this EP ended up so good?

The only evident albeit minor downfall I see with this release is that by encompassing all these aspects, combined with the rather contrived metaphor that Meniscus themselves seem to wholeheartedly endorse, things get a bit too complicated. By this I don’t even mean the music itself, but rather the alleged journey of the insect from water to surface. Near the end of the album, there seems to be a mix of insect noises, interspersed with active sections, then distortion. Are we to guess from this that maybe the journeying insect fails a bit and starts flailing around in a rage, causing some crushing metal to commence? Or that during the last track, the insect in question has a bit of a sit down, before continuing to bend the laws of fluids. During the 22 minute "Idiot Savant," there is an 8 minute ‘gap’ consisting of nothing but chirping, before what appears to be a more ambient reprise of an earlier section. There is a way to justify this i’m sure, but after many, many listens, it’s not immediately clear. Like I said, it’s not a major gripe.

It may have taken them three years, but Meniscus have come up with a winner: a staggeringly confident and competent debut release that shows a sort of compositional maturity that many bands on their fifth release would strive to achieve. Beautifully crafted and impeccably conceived, this had better be a sign of what’s yet to come. -Barry Smethurst (thesilentballet.com)

Official site
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Lento - Earthen

Artist: Lento
Album: Earthen
Label: Supernatural Cat
Year: 2007

01. Hadrons
02. Need
03. Subterrestrial
04. Currents
05. Emersion of the islands
06. Earth
07. Leave

pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

‘Lento’ is a five piece band specialising in creating drawn-out instrumentals which conjure up images of dark and unstable war-torn voids via monstrous riffage, liquid melodies and foreboding ambience. Now, if these elements seem familiar that is because they are and there are hundreds of bands out there concocting a mostly sub-par breed of heavy metal meets post-rock dynamics. It takes a degree of restraint, an expert ability to arrange and manipulate dynamics, and above all, an exquisite touch to make a unique record within this over-burgeoning genre. ‘Lento’ have already displayed their finery with ‘Supernaturals Record One’, a split release with immense epic-rockers UFOmammut and ‘Earthen’ is their full length debut on the classy Italian label, Supernatural Cat.

From the outset it is clear that Lento have been listening to one-too-many Pelican records and the opener ‘Hadrons’ is Pelican at their finest. What, with its shimmering guitar melodies lilting over a downtuned barrage of perpetual riffage, ‘Hadrons’ would have made an excellent addition to the fantastic Australasia LP and that is a serious compliment. ‘Need’ is the emotive follow-up which brings into play lusher liquid melodies over a back-drop of crushing and ever-rising riffage to create a score to impending doom whilst allowing room for reminiscing about a life once had. The angular twists and turns, the interplay of the instrumentation, the harmony and progression between soft and loud dynamics are all evident and listeners are left with a wonderful and ravaging sonic war-story.

After the dark-ambient soundscape of ‘Subterrestrial’ which gives the listener time to comprehend the heaviness of what just passed, ‘Currents’ erupts with wafts of angelic and harmonised vocal-drones which compliment some shredding concrete riffs to create an awesome (and highly unique) soundscape brimming with thick and sludgy atmospheric ambience. The arrangement of the piece draws the listener ever-deeper into the track resulting in an almost paranoia-inducing, psychedelic affair which leaves you out of breath. Awesome. ‘Emersion of the Island’ moves into the subtle and fuzzy shoe-gazer soundscape of ambient Mogwai with its elongated electroid crackles and pops which wash over the listener in truncated swathes of warm audio-bliss. What follows is a another onslaught of tidal-wave size riffage which staggers on a little lazily in comparison to what has passed before, although the finale is a rather gi-normous beast which will undoubtedly leave your neck sore from all the head-nodding that will inevitably ensue. The final track ‘Leave’ commences with a solemn lullaby which sounds like a score to a bunch of innocent people being marched along a beautiful coast to an ever-nearing execution chamber, a sound which ‘Explosions In the Sky’ managed to craft so realistically. The sound then shifts into a bleak wasteland in which subtle feedback and intimate atmospheric-drone reign supreme. A fitting end to such a powerful album.

Overall ‘Earthen’ is a thoroughly impressive debut album which is undoubtedly influenced by the veterans of the heavy post-rock scene. ‘Lento’ have displayed their ability to craft some gigantic and impressive destructo-core which has been made all the more endearing due to the fantastic angular arrangements and the moody atmospherics. With tracks like ‘Currents’, ‘Lento’ showcase their ability to move beyond their influences and a continuation of such ideas will lead to them being the band that influences others.

For fans of: Pelican, Mogwai, Isis, Red Sparowes, Jesu, Mono, Explosions In The Sky. (experimusic.com)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nine Inch Nails - The Slip (Halo 27)

Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: The Slip (Halo 27)
Label: The Null Corporation
Year: 2008

01. 999,999
02. 1,000,000
03. Letting You
04. Discipline
05. Echoplex
06. Head Down
07. Lights In The Sky
08. Corona Radiata
09. The Four Of Us Are Dying
10. Demon Seed


Nine Inch Nails is riding high on the publicity of its heavily hyped Ghosts I-IV release and is capitalizing on that buzz with a new free album release, The Slip. It’s available exclusively as a free download, but physical releases are in the works.There’s a 2008 Nine Inch Nails Tour coming up this fall, and it’s clear that NIN’s using the The Slip as a promo to build interest in its upcoming tour.
“Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one’s on me,” says Trent Reznor, and a fine thank you it is. While Ghosts I-IV was an interesting (and successful) experiment, The Slip is a full-bore Nine Inch Nails album.
The album is a mix of environmental/ambient tracks & rockers, with a piano ballad thrown in for good measure.
The Slip gets off to a slow start with 999,999, an ambient track that sounds a bit Eraserhead industrial noise, and wouldn’t have been out of place on the Ghosts I-IV release. It quickly morphs into 1,000,000, a straight-ahead NIN rocker. It’s as blistering as anything NIN has done.
NIN keeps things moving with Letting You, and the more dance oriented Discipline. Discipline has sort of a post-disco feel, and ends with the sort of combined verse + chorus that Paul McCartney honed to a science with his 70’s Wings releases. Except this one is about needing Discipline. Echoplex didn’t do much for me - we’ve heard all the sounds and themes before from NIN. Maybe a remix could help this one. Head Down moves things back into hardcore NIN territory. It sounds like Reznor is running the drums through one of Metasonix’ bizarro tube distortion units. Wailing guitars, shouted choruses and alternating loud/soft sections turn this into a likely concert anthem. Lights in the Sky is the piano ballad I mentioned earlier. It’s an attractive track, despite the crappy out of tune piano and despite the fact that Reznor has a relatively weak voice. The track works because it’s intimate and raw - you feel like you’re sitting next to Reznor as he sings it. Lights in the Sky blends into Corona Radiata - which is one of the highlights of the album. It’s a simple ambient drone piece, but it’s really gorgeous. The first half of it wouldn’t have been out of place on Brian Eno’s Ambient 4: On Land. The second half gets a slow, distorted beat that feels like an irresistible force. The Four of Us are Dying is another gorgeous track - but this time it’s gorgeous industrial noise. The track has a drum machine line that kicks it off and that runs through it, over which mellow, but powerful guitar and synth lines are woven. The album finishes off with Demon Seed, a tight, clean rocker. It builds to a massive climax, dies away to almost nothing, and then comes back for another minute of rocking out. It’s a satisfying end to the album. Overall, NIN’s new release The Slip is an excellent release. It delivers all the things you expect from NIN, it builds on their last release, Ghosts I-IV, and it even has some a couple of tracks that are likely to burn up some air time. In addition to being a great free release, The Slip is released with a Creative Commons license - which means you can share the album with your friends, put it in your podcast or remix it. And, since you’re my friend, I’ve got one of the highlights of release, 1,000,000, available for you to download below. You can download The Slip via the NIN site. Email registration is required. The album is available in a variety of formats including high-quality MP3, FLAC or M4A lossless at CD quality and even higher-than-CD quality 24/96 WAVE. All downloads include a PDF with artwork and credits. -by synthtopia.com

Official site

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Long Distance Calling - Satellite Bay

Artist: Long Distance Calling
Album: Satellite Bay
Label: Viva Hate
Year: 2007

01. Jungfernflug
02. Fire in the mountain
03. Aurora
04. Horizon
05. The very last day
06. Built without hands
07. Swallow the water

pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

Nearly a year after releasing their first demo, the German post-rock ensemble Long Distance Calling has returned to the scene with a fiery debut that more than exceeds expectations. Experimental as well as accessible, Satellite Bay shows the band taking a more sophisticated approach to their songwriting, elaborating upon their unique blend of progressive rock, ambient instrumentals and hard-edged metal. The album features five brand new songs plus two completely redone tracks from last year’s demo, providing a near-60-minute epic journey through some of the best modern instrumental rock music this year has seen.

Having progressed beyond the somewhat undeveloped and inconsistent nature of their demo material, Satellite Bay shows the band delivering their sounds in a way that is as cohesive as it is diverse. This time around, Long Distance Calling seem to have successfully combined their various influences into one solid identity, seamlessly blending layered instrumental movements with their own special dash of edgy rock-based riffs. Typical “post-rock” techniques are quite dominant but delivered with skillful precision—interwoven guitar melodies, bold percussion and soft-to-loud transitions are all implemented in familiar but engaging ways. The real key to this album’s success though comes from tracks such as “Horizon,” which definitely stick out a bit from the rest with a groovier attitude and up-beat pace, giving the album just enough variation to keep things interesting without throwing off the flow.

In sum, what we can see on Satellite Bay is a band that has harnessed its artistic vision and found the perfect balance between experimentation and discipline, making for an exciting and engaging listen from start to finish. That said, one could also say that a lot of the stuff on this release has been done many times before, and perhaps for some of the genre's enthusiasts that might be enough to make this album less than amazing. Nevertheless, an album doesn't necessarily have to be completely ground-breaking to be good—it is the sheer quality and integrity of their music which makes Long Distance Calling so entertaining.

Those seeking a wholesome serving of some of the newest instrumental rock to hit the scene should definitely check out this release. Fans of groups such as ISIS, Tides, and Caspian will likely find Satellite Bay to be a refreshing and enjoyable addition to their rotation. -Sean Butze

Official site
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

From The Sky - A Warm Place With No Memory

Artist: From The Sky
Album: A Warm Place With No Memory
Label: Unsigned
Year: 2008

01. Delusions of Grandeur
02. She Who Stares
03. To The Friend I Once Knew
04. Lost In The Woods

pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

‘A Warm Place With No Memory’ is From The Sky’s third release and displays a huge progression from their previous work, upping the complexity and ambition whilst retaining the melodic hooks, short compositions and detailed structure which sets them apart in the Post-Rock landscape.

Multiple influences combine to produce a cohesive yet varied EP, from melodic passages to heavy riffs, rhythmic math to soaring post-rock noise. ‘A Warm Place….’ shifts from pin-drop quiet to crashing distortion encompassing everything in between and is definitely From The Sky’s best release so far.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Movus - Movus

Artist: Movus
Album: Movus
Label: Self Released
Year: 2007

01. Eloheim
02. Midgard 1
03. Midgard 2
04. Moho
05. Nowadays Bastard Once medieval
06. Arguia
07. Avantgarde Self esteem
08. Artificial Launch Scape for a dream
09. Guarda la espada
10. Arguia Lumenab Remix

Download part2
pass: lateralnoise.blogspot.com

The term ‘post-rock’ means many things to many people, but the origin of the term in it’s modern form is generally attributed to Wire critic Simon Reynolds for his description of “using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes”. Nearly a decade and a half after, it’s fair to say that this description no longer fits the bill. ‘Post-rock’ is now as much a genre as ‘soul’, ‘blues’ or ‘ska-punk’.
What makes a ‘post-rock’ band then? Reverb laden guitars picking out simple arpeggiated melodies? Indeed. Quiet passages that give way to distorted variations on the previously established theme? Yes please. Vocals being entirely absent, or present only as another instrument? You bet. Portentous (or should that be pretentious) song titles? We’ll have some of that thank you very much. What once stood for innovation now represents an easy to follow Ikea-style home-build blueprint, whereby following the instructions and slotting the pieces together correctly is almost a guarantee of success; which brings us to Movus.
On their self-titled debut album, Movus present 10 songs of tight, professionally played, well constructed ‘post-rock’; the problem is that this is all they bring, and in an ever swelling, burgeoning scene these factors are no longer enough to separate a band from their peers. While there are certainly no songs that are anything less than professionally played and solidly constructed across the album, there is also nothing that would stand out from the crowd if you plugged, for example, the name Mono into Last.fm and listened to the endless stream of bands that followed.
Such is the dearth of fresh ideas on display that during "Moho" Movus directly thieve a melody from a song that is generally considered to be one of the best that the instrumental scene has thrown up in recent years; Mogwai’s "Hunted By A Freak." While it only lasts for a brief minute or so out of the album’s whole length, it speaks volumes for the band’s approach, and simultaneously serves to show the difference in quality between proponents of the flat-pack assembly approach and the work of genuine master craftsmen.
Certainly, Movus have the quality of musicianship and the understanding to construct something genuinely powerful and unique in the future, but on the evidence presented on this debut, there is very little to indicate that they have any real interest in becoming anything more than yet another ‘post-rock’ band.-Kris Ilic (thesilentballet.com)

Buy it

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Andy Mitchell - Less Talk, More Static

Artist: Andy Mitchell
Album: Less Talk, More Static
Label: Self Released
Year: 2008

01. Home
02. Tell Me
03. The End Begins
04. Wasting My Days
05. Dark Matter
06. Dissolve
07. Waiting
08. One Small Step
09. DSPS


Living on campus at Middlesbrough University, or any university for that matter, not the most insouciant experience for the budding musician. Exams, projects, and the general strain of university life can take their toll, yet Andy Mitchell manages to juggle the two dedications with a little bit of effort. Andy, 20, took notice of the rise of digital advances regarding music, and soon cottoned on. His album, "Less Talk, More Static," is accessible for download in its entirety via his myspace page gratis. Of course, if you also attend Middlesbrough University, you may already have been awoken in the small hours of the night by a scraping noise as Andy slides a copy of "Less Talk, More Static" between the crack of the door and the floor of your room. Failing that, you’ll just have to download the album, and I must say, it’s a tad more convenient for Mr. Mitchell.
By this point, you may be wondering exactly what is so special about Andy. He confirmed to me that "Less Talk, More Static" draws inspiration from Frank Sinatra’s "In The Wee Small Hours" album cover, reflecting loneliness, desertion, and the early hours of the day. His song, DSPS epitomises Andy as a musician and lyricist; from the intricately intimate melodies of his acoustic guitar and tunnel echo vocals, to the wind chimes that aren’t even there, Andy comes to life as he muses, “It was the sound of nothing at all, the clouds today forever move and crawl.” Andy Mitchell is an artist who sounds like he is recording his music while he is watching the sunrises and sunsets as they pass him by, and do you know, I think he might just be doing so. So do visit Andy’s myspace, and give his wonderfully textured music a listen.

Official site

Andy Mitchell Less Talk, More Static Interview

The end focus of the album was always kind of big initially, or at least when I started liking what was playing back; to collect a bunch of songs that could form an album and send them out to every record label I could find. That was really just my version of every girls popstar dream though, and I soon started to appreciate the distribution of the internet and the price tag on music being free (a lot down to albums like Radiohead - In Rainbows, NIN - Ghosts I-IV) to gain awareness of my music. It would also be hypocritical of me to consume music online and turn around to ask money for my own, so I made the decision to give everything away for free. I think eventually with all bands and artists the music aspect will become free, and what else they offer the public, whether dvds, movies, merch, whatever it may be, will become more prominent.

The album itself has a very consistent theme, very reflective of Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours album cover; lonely, deserted and drifting around the calm and eerie city streets as early morning creeps in. I’m a creature of the early morning hours, often up until 5-6am, and its at these late hours a lot of the recording, inspiration, and ideas for the album took place, so this mood consistently crops up in lyrics and artwork and sound.

Space is another concept that appears throughout, due to my love and intrigue in the environments or ideas that portray space and stars with a sense of ethereal calm; to relax and feel like you’re there. These personal themes make the album into a very personal piece, there’s no characters or stories that didn’t happen, everything had to be from my own head, and it’s this kind of honesty that hopefully gives it some sincerity.

The albums ’Radiohead - OK Computer’, ’Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska’, and ’U2 - The Joshua Tree’, had another big chunk of impact on my album, as the consistent inspiration and reference points to how I wanted to sound, or what I wanted to achieve. The expansive and futuristic themes on ’OK Computer’... the intimate acoustic guitar recorded in Springsteen’s bedroom, exactly like my situation on ’Nebraska’... and what Space and America and great landscapes should sound like on ’Joshua Tree’ all deeply inspired me.

As for the recording process behind the songs, every song is crafted on acoustic guitar, and that basic skeleton is put down first. It’s only me, so I’m in control of everything, and from there I experiment and play around with what can be added; electric guitar, bass, programmed drums, synth, harmonica, and anything else that works and compliments the song.

I feel like I’ve created an album I can be proud of, and at this stage I can only hope to reach others and hope they experience some of what I intended, and find enjoyment in it.

Andy Mitchell Interview

1. What has taken you to produce an album and provide it for free to the people on the web?

I'm a real big fan of an album being a collective piece, listened to from start to finish in a calm, focussed listening environment, and attention given to the artwork/booklet etc... really spending some time to immerse in the music as the artists intended. Music at the minute is heavily focussed on single tracks lifted out of this album context, whether on iTunes, ra
dio, free previews on myspace / last.fm etc., and I really wanted to have people listen to my album as one body of work, to try and pick up on the themes and atmospheres I was trying to establish throughout....it's not a concept album, but it takes a lot of inspiration from my time spent awake in the early morning hours, and the only way I could see myself providing this full album experience in my present situation, as a new musician with no previous release or fanbase, was to provide it for free in the highest quality, taking an album like Nine Inch Nails' 'Ghosts I-IV' as a blueprint to how I could go about it.

2. Have you ever had another experience in a band?

I have had no other experience in a band, or even with any other musicians. I've had a very light messing around with the odd friend or so, but this is my first musical experience. In the very beginning I was apprehensive and doubtful of my own ability, especially to step up and sing having had no experience of it, but over time I found it m
ore rewarding and productive to just focus on improving these areas rather than go out and put together a band.

3. Tell us something about you... for instance: since when did you start singing?

Well like I mentioned, I really only started for this album and have tried to improve my singing as time has went on...I don't claim to be much of a singer, the vocals were just voices to demo ideas initially, but that progressed to something a littler better. I started learning guitar when I was 18 though (3-4 years ago), a little late compared to some, but from there I started teaching myself and learning from tabs. As I got a little better I wanted to record some covers of various songs I loved, Foo Fighters mainly in the beginning, they were pretty piss poor attempts but it helped me learn chords and song structure and recording processes. I've always had a certain distaste at artists who only ever do covers and never write their own songs (bar maybe Frank Sinatra or something!) though, so I wanted to keep the wheels moving forward with my guitar playing...and with that I started to make attempts at writing my own songs.

4. How long has it taken to produce the entire album?

Apart from Dark Matter which was the only song to really carry on from a fair bit back, the album start to finish has taken about 6 months. It hasn't been day to day, I've had other University studies to commit too and I've went at it in my own pace...which has been dubbed once or twice 'so laid back you're almost horizontal', so it's been fairly relaxed! The whole album was created in my small University room.

5. Have you got any shows scheduled for the next days?

At the minute there is nothing planned... In honesty though I have a lot of nerves and apprehension about performing on a live stage, doubts in my playing and singing abilities, in the songs holding up in a live setting....As I mentioned I'm very much about the album so I'll probably keep focussing on that aspect for a bit, but I think i'll definitely want to get out there at some point
and play my songs.

6. What were your mainly influences during the album's production?

Radiohead's 'OK Computer' played a big influence on me, it encompasses so much of that 'whole package' feel...the artwork and music all ties in together perfectly, and the depth of sound and detail on all tracks is a massive inspiration. The attitudes and ideas
of Angels & Airwaves had a big influence on me during the album process, creating positive atmospheres and visuals, utilising uplifting outer space imagery in the artwork as a vehicle for the music was something I wanted to emulate. Bruce Springsteen...specifically the 'Nebraska' album was another reference point, for the simple relation to my own situation. He recorded the whole album on a 4-track cassette recorder in his bedroom, and it influenced my attitude to what can be produced from lo-fi and minimalistic situations. There were many other bands and situations that helped attribute to my direction, but those 3 were the solid foundations of where I wanted to go with my music.

Interview taken from britishpoint.blogspot.com