Sunday, 30 October 2016

Review - The Empty Page - Unfolding



The Empty Page – Unfolding
DL
21 October 2016
9/10


Review by Amy Tweddle of We Are Quasars and mylittlebrother.



I like this album.  I like this album a lot. 

Ok, before we get into the music let's get a bit of background...The Empty Page hail from Manchester and formed back in 2015 (in a cold warehouse apparently). 'Unfolding'  is the trio's debut album and was produced by Gggarth Richardson (Biffy Clyro, Melvins,  RATM) - the result is the sound of a band that wants to get things done quickly but honestly.  The trio seem to pride themselves on bringing back the unpolished, energetic sound that so many records of late seem to discard in favour of a clinical, over polished/processed sound.

One of the things that stands out about this album are the topics it shouts about - gender, body image, representation, and feminism all get a look in - any Riot Grrrls out there will connect with this almost immediately - the Fourth Wave may be upon us but in places it manifests the aggression of the Third as it confidently sticks two fingers up at gender/society's expectations.

'In Patterns'  lulls the listener into a false sense of security with its soft guitars and catchy vocal melodies complete with  'na na na's' and handclaps at the end of the track.  Then, out of nowhere  'Cracks in the Surface' opens with a yell and a guitar line so angry that you can actually feel the draught from the speaker as it lets you know that 'you've been eased in gently, now here comes the kick' - that's not to say that this track is just noise because it's not, there are  hooks aplenty (which can also be said of the entire album). 

Lead single 'Turbulence' is a gentler affair with a repeating guitar line that gives way to a fuzzed out chorus - the thing that keeps this track moving is the  solid snare popping away while lines like 'will we die here/ will we survive here...determined to find peace in this turbulence...we are ironclad' snarl and swirl around it - it's easy to see why this was chosen as the album's  lead single.

'Wardrobe Malfunction'  is possibly my favourite track off the album -think The Pixies do Britpop (kind of) but add some cathartic screaming into the mix  - this is where Kel  really lets her voice loose - you can feel the frustration as she spits out 'slip into your uniform and behave, oh behave!' a line I think every female  can empathise with.

'Yoyo'  took me by surprise with a cleaner guitar sound - 'life's not a fairytale, sometimes the wolf will get you'  is repeated more than once but is followed by the reassurance of  you know what? That's aright 'cause that's just the way it is sometimes - don't worry.  It builds well and I kept waiting for it to take off but instead drops down completely to a handful of looping guitar notes...this may be my only criticism of the album (and I offer it begrudgingly)  but I think this track may have served better as a final track, that said,  it's still a great track regardless of positioning.

'Deeply Unlovable'  is a diatribe against labels, vanity and society's demands on us to fit into their neatly formed outlines of the 'perfect image'.  'Nothing's ever good enough...they define us to undermine us...we don't need to play your game!'  may sound obvious but the fact that we need to keep on shouting this is the reason songs like this exist.  Forget  radio A-lists and a certain 'Now' compilation - THIS is what should be curated for us, THIS is what should be force-fed into our ears on a daily basis because you know what? We really don't need to play their game. 

Overall, this album has many apparent  influences but those that stand out the most are The Pixies (Deeply Unlovable, Wardrobe Malfunction), Veruca Salt (Chasm)  and pretty much every Riot Grrrl band that ever existed and the result is pretty magnificent indeed.  This is a band that I will definitely  be keeping an eye out for, and I can't wait to see where they progress from here.









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Published on Louder Than War 23/10/16 - here






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Listen! - Magana - Get It Right






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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Watch! - Reed & Caroline - Washing Machine








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Review - Reed & Caroline – Buchla And Singing




Reed & Caroline – Buchla And Singing (Very Records)

CD / DL

Out Now

8 / 10

Vintage synth duo release their debut album.   

Don Buchla couldn’t have had any idea how much his electronic instrument would have affected modern music when he formed Buchla & Associates back in 1962.  Pre-dating the machine invented by Bob Moog, but not in production until afterwards, the Buchla has had a chequered past not least being dropped by CBS Musical Instruments as they saw no future in synthesized music.

Sadly, Don passed away last month at the age of 79.  Sad, because he may have missed out on a resurgence of his keyboard-less device with the release of the debut album from Reed & Caroline.

Reed Hays met Caroline Schutz at Oberlin College in Ohio after enrolling merely to play the college Buchla and Caroline ditched her graphic designer role with the Lollapalooza Festival in favour of showcasing her singing voice.  The result is quite simply what the title of the album says – a Buchla played skilfully (Vince Clarke says he used to have one but sold it as it was too difficult to play), and a voice, often angelic, that sings about anything from electrons to washing machines.

Album opener, and recent single Singularity (We Bond) is a delicious slice of pop that Mr Clarke will be envious of.  Less than three minutes of addictive chorus and equally addictive electro sounds with a fascinating bassline.  Schutz’s voice is laid down layer on layer giving the impression of a backing made up of several singers.  It’s fun and incredibly catchy, and the whole idea of pop.

Washing Machine has another great bassline created through the Buchla with voice through a vocoder (the only time on the album that an alternative instrument is used).  Synthesized water drops to a tale of the ordinary and keeps the toes tapping.  Indeed, the ordinariness of all the song subject matters probably makes the album the interest that it is.  Being able to relate to songs is what makes them special to us, and a trip back to the early 80s when the synthesizer boom happened is a nice feeling for many of us of a certain age.

There is surely another single in Electrons.  An incredibly likeable bouncy pop affair (like everything else on Buchla And Singing) with a melody that is difficult to shake off and that is the key to the success of the album.  Nothing overcomplicated, just simple well executed songs.  Nightmarf is an instrumental with oriental influences, and Henry The Worm despite its twee title is charming.






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Published on Louder Than War 20/10/16 - here









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Friday, 28 October 2016

Listen! - Cloud Boat - Man of War (Phaeleh remix)








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Listen! - Déyyess - Guns







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Listen! - Gaye Su Akyol - Kendimden kaçmaktan






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Listen! - Temple Invisible - Breathe





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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Review - The Orb – COW/Chill Out World




The Orb – COW/Chill Out World (Kompakt Records)

LP / CD / DL

Out Now

8/10


Thomas Fehlmann and Alex Paterson are seasoned professionals of that there can be no mistake.  For almost thirty years they have been pioneers of UK ambient music and their new album, Chill Out World their fourteenth studio album, has been described as their most ambient yet.  It does exactly what it says on the cover with Fehlamnn encouraging everyone to ‘chill the fuck out’.

The album construction has been a quick affair with Paterson capturing field recordings on his iPhone before transferring to Ableton.   These recordings are easy to spot – birds singing, water bubbling, sheep bleating, you get the message - all capture a simple but effective organic feel which transcends the whole album.  A wholly instinctive album which has been allowed to grow and expand to a work of precise beauty.  Make no mistake, there is nothing earth shattering here, but what is contained within the ten tracks is a feeling of nature, of buoyancy and of oneness.

With guest appearances from composer, multi-instrumentalist and sound artist Roger Eno, and founder member of Killing Joke, Youth the sound is mature yet full of youthfulness and life.  Eight of the tracks refer directly to their position on the album – track one is First Consider The Lillys, two is Wireless Mk2, three is Siren 33, etc.… - introducing a dry humour to the proceedings if the listener so chooses to be that way inclined.

There are no doubt hidden jokes along the way, most obviously with the album title which is also playfully entitled COW, and the track titles themselves surely hold some sort of hidden meaning other than the chronological references.  4am Exhale (Chill Out World) is a repetitive tinkling of blissful sounds before the sounds of motor vehicles gently glide in and out of the mix, whereas 5th Dimensions seem to throw everything in, including the odd cuckoo and pan pipe, as you do.

Some will argue that this is no Fluffy Little Clouds and it isn’t.  What it is instead is a collection of ten tracks made to make you literally chill out, and it does.  Sex (Panoramic Sex Heal) is a stunning one minute thirty-nine seconds of gorgeousness which is neither too short nor too long fitting perfectly into the track listing before 7 Oaks borrows from other musical genres in a refined mash up of styles.

There’s a more cinematic, dramatic approach to 9 Elms Over River Eno (Channel 9) which shifts the mood in a more upbeat direction, but the avian sounds return once more for album closer The 10 Sultans Of Rudyard with the Moo Moo Mix being either a reference to former Orb member Jimmy Cauty and his antics with The KLF, a play with the bovine acronym of the album title, or both.









 


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Sunday, 23 October 2016

Listen! - Officer - El Presidente







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