donderdag 28 februari 2019

Samsara. The World of Dust

Here is the first release in 2019 of the as sympathetic as it small label Tiny Room Records. Label owner Stefan Breuer releases a new album under the name The World of Dust. This time in a collaboration with Todd Tobias, who the readers of this blog were introduced to through the release of that fine, surprising album 'Massabu Evening Entertainment' close to a year ago.

On Samsara the duo explores songs that are as calm as they are tranquil. Samsara, Sanskrit for moving around in circles or the process of reincarnation, is an album where the brake is on for most of the time. In that sense the music on the album comes close to the resignation that comes through living sort of forever. The reward is always in the next life until nirvana is reached.

I fully realise that the description of the music given just now may give off the impression it is utterly boring. And I can imagine that if I play it at the wrong time it is. Were it not that in the calmness The World of Dust finds a pop feel, that is rather infectuous. Some pop songs of the 60s are no stranger to the tandem Breuer - Tobias nor are the 80s. The soft side of Tears for Fears, like 'The Hurting' or 'Mad World' shines through here as does the mysticism of Japan. Think 'Nightporter'. Listen to 'Naked Science' to know what I mean.

It is here where Samsara fully succeeds and delivers. It is of no consequence that fun and exuberance are left behind as long as the songs deliver an inherent quality. And that they do. I can lose myself in the harmonies of 'Space Shelter'. Nothing but an acoustic guitar, elementary played and Tobias harmonising with himself is all it takes to have a beautiful song.

When I play Samsara and invest in the listening, I find it is so easy to sort of melt into the album, following all the small changes closely, coming into the mood The World of Dust presents totally. With a minimum of effects the album draws me in and does not let go before the final note has faded away.

Samsara is a beautiful album if you allow it to be and I decided that it is more than worthwhile to invest. The result is a time well spent.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Samsara here:

https://tinyroomrecords.bandcamp.com/merch


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

woensdag 27 februari 2019

Another Round. Indian Askin

Indian Askin has released its second album a few weeks ago. I took my time to digest the new offering to form an opinion on where the band stands in 2019. My first impression was the album sounded bland compared to the debut album. It was not long before I had to start to retrace my steps.

Indian Askin first appeared on this blog as the support to De Staat. All these years later it still seems like a logical choice. The former band is far more psychedelic than the latter and has nothing to do with hiphop rhythms. That aside there are several likenesses. Starting with the level of weirdness both bands allow into their music. Both like to experiment with sounds and irregular use of instruments. The result are surprising turns in the songs.

On Another Round Indian Askin in one way takes off where it left us with 'Sea Of Ethanol' (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.com/2016/07/sea-of-ethanol-indian-askin.html), but also is two and a half year further in its career.

The easy conclusion is that the band has become more normal. The songs are somewhat more straightforward. The acoustic guitar played loud on the bass strings, plays a main role, leaving the effect laden electric guitar, so psychedelic influences, aside far more. The result being the songs come forward more. And through repeated listening to Another Round these songs are appreciated more positively by the spin. At the same time I have the impression Ayala and band mates have listened excessively to 60s Frank Zappa lately. His amount of weirdness is all over the album, including freak outish spoken word sections. Provided in the right doses, it remains totally listenable.

Of course Chino Ayala's voice knows a weirdness of its own. It could be an obstacle for some. For me his is the right voice for this music. The psychedelia that comes with some of the songs is underscored by Ayala's way of singing. Just listen to 'I Know How To Party' and hear how it all comes together. The voice, the weirdness, the music, Zappa, pop and party.

In my first reaction I did not have the idea that I would be running to my local record store anytime soon. It appears I have changed my mind. Another Round will be one of the first albums that come into the house on vinyl. It is varied, exciting and has quality. Another Round is another very good album to come out of this country and the right step for Indian Askin to have taken. Growth is the word here.

Wo.

Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

dinsdag 26 februari 2019

Black Light White Dark. Evi Vine

There are albums containing darkness and albums that contain some more. On her new album Evi Vine is not in business to show a lot of light. Black Light White Dark is the right name for this cd.

Because of that I do not warm easily to the album. It is not as if I feel invited to join the "fun". For that the music is too solid and fierce.

So if I can't participate I can sit back and relax. In the old days I was able to enjoy parts of The Cure, more recently Esben and the Witch and Wolf Alice or let the most extreme form (I personally know) of this kind of music wash over me in a live show by A Place To Bury Strangers. By being the truly passive listener something does happen between Evi Vine and myself.

Black Light White Dark starts with a strong song. Dark and brooding, slow, full of atmosphere. The sharp mixed drums, an effect ridden guitar or three, a dark bass. Over it washes the voice of Evi Vine like the waves hitting the beach, relentless ever ongoing. Slow, but never stopping. "I am the waves, I am the ocean" sings Evi Vine, which is quite an addition. The song is impressive and full of tension and also so different from some of the things happening next. The song ends in minutes of silence. Is this deliberate or a mistake in the pressing? Nothing happens for over 6 minutes.

Promo photo: Paul Harries
When the second song starts it is as a surprise. 'Afterlight' is far the busier song. The drums pound on the floor tom, while the rest plays like building up a storm. Evi Vine's voice hovers over it all. A treated voice repeats the same phrase over and over becoming an instrument not a voice. There is little variation. Either this song brings the listener in a trance or makes him/her skip the song.

'Sabbath', with The Cure's Simon Gallup featuring, starts out as a grand rock song before it winds down. Again there is mystery involved. Like the band plays shrouded in fog or in the midst of a snowstorm. The sound is audible, yet unclear where it exactly comes from. And then 'Sabbath' explodes again like a truck coming out of that fog at full speed and straight on, scaring the hell out of me. It is in moments like these that I am remembered by Wolf Alice, although Evi Vine is far more vague in its music. Gallup's base is instantly recognisable in some parts. The song flashes out ever more. Layer after layer of guitars enter, blowing it up until the seams are at bursting point. Live this will be ear shattering. Enter A Place To Bury Strangers.

The piano opening 'My Only Son' comes as a, giant, surprise. Evi Vine explores her Kate Bush side. And comes a long way. This song could have been on 'Lionheart' or 'Never For Ever' if the guitar atmospherics had been left out. This point of rest works really well by the way. 'My Only Son' is a beautiful song.

Promo photo: Steven Hill
'We Are Made Of Stars' is as mysterious as the title sounds. An instrumental with weird sounds like Pink Floyd used to be good at. Think the beginning of 'Have A Cigar' or 'Welcome To The Machine'. Evi Vine definitely does a pink Floyd mid 70s here. This is not a song but atmosphere and a dark one at that. At the same time I notice how well it is done. The only thing missing is bursting out into a classic song like 'Time' of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. The experimental darkness is totally convincing.

The album ends with the 11 minute plus song 'Sad Song No. 9'. A final name has reached me as a reference, The Black Angels. Psychedelia is a small part of what makes up Evi Vine. In this expansive song Evi, Steven Hill, Matt Tye and David 'GB' Smith together slowly cook up a storm where everything on this album slowly comes together. By then it is clear that Black Light White Dark is much more that I had expected from starting to listen to the album. This album is a gothic monument with all the ornaments attached coming with the moniker gothic, gargoyles and all.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Dark Light White Dark here:

https://evivine.bandcamp.com/album/black-light-white-dark


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

maandag 25 februari 2019

Mark Hollis and Peter Tork RIP

Two completely different artists died a few days from each other. Both have had some impact on my musical experience though in a totally different way.

Peter Tork, born as Peter Halsten Thorkelson, was born in 1942 and grew to fame as an actor in tv series about the life in a pop band. Although the television show lasted only for two seasons, the fame of The Monkees have outlasted any expectations. I was too young to truly appreciate the impact of the series. Especially as my parents did not care for television, so we did not have a set at the time. I must have seen something as The Monkees certainly were on my mind. The hardcover comic book on The Monkees that lies somewhere in the attic attest to that. Three hits especially have stood the test of time: 'Last Train To Clarksville', 'I'm A Believer' and 'Daydream Believer'. These three will be the songs that the band, if we can speak of a band here, is forever be remembered by. The theme song certainly is another favourite of mine, as is the sweetest of the band's hits 'Pleasant Valley Sunday'.

The role, musically, of Peter Tork has always been something of a mystery to me. Micky Dolenz sang most of the hits, while Michael Nesmith was the real musician of the four, having scored hits on his own accord in the 70s. Davy Jones was the professional actor with the very good looks.

So I was too young for the show, and have never seen a rerun of by the way, but not for some of the hits as they always came by on the radio. They were written and mostly played by others, but since then they are The Monkees' hits. The four some have gained a popularity that lasted. Now two of the four have gone.

Mark Hollis is a produce of the dark 80s. Talk Talk was not an easy band to digest. The music was dark, complex and becoming ever complexer. At the same time the band produced a few fabulous hitsingles. Not that I play them any more, but when they come by on the radio, I always prick up my ears. 'It's My Life', 'Such A Shame', 'Happiness Is Easy',  'Life's What you Make It' and 'Living In Another World'. Especially 'The Colour Of Spring' was an album I liked at the time. Talk Talk made music that was different, yet not too unlike Tears For Fears.

That all changed with the album 'Spirit Of Eden', one of the first cds I ever bought on the basis of its single. The album unfortunately was a bit too much to stomach for me. At least at the time. Perhaps I should give it a go 30 years down the line. After that I lost touch with the band. Not that a lot happened since. Mark Hollis disappeared from the music scene in the 90s. Perhaps disillusioned or had he said all that he had to say.

In some of the reactions to his demise I read that Talk Talk was seriously underrated. I do not have that impression here in The Netherlands. No, the band never made the greats, but certainly was appreciated at the time. It scored several hits and albums made the charts. The hits still come by fairly regularly on the radio. So, no the band is not forgotten. True, I haven't played anything by the band for at least a decade, probably two.

That I cannot say for The Monkees. Only last week I was playing 'I'm A Believer' and threw in 'Daydream Believer' for good measure. If only because my band is going to play the song soon. That is something I cannot say for Talk Talk, probably ever.

Wo.

or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

Outro. Emilie Kahn

Recently several albums by female singer-songwriters reached the desks of WoNo Magazine and with albums by Odette and Nina Nesbitt nothing happened between myself and the music on the two respective albums. Nothing beyond the idea that nothing happened. I kept asking myself the question: 'When does this album finally start and come alive'? It didn't.

Enter Emilie Kahn. Her album Outro is not an epitome of explosions nor wildness, yet her album contains music that touches on the right strings. Kahn definitely belongs to a subset of modern artists. Her music holds modern electronics and a faint hint at modern rhythms. At the same time she references on a world of fairytales and mysteries not unlike Kate Bush used to do in her early work and not just because of the use of her voice.

In 2015 Emilie Kahn entered the pop world with her album '10.000' under the name Emilie & Ogden. Somewhere in the past years Montreal, Canada based Kahn decided to drop the Ogden part and continue under her own name. On Outro, a somewhat ominous name for an artist with only two albums to her name, she manages to manoeuvre between brittleness and electronics in a way that is convincing. Nine songs, except for one all with just one word for a title, suggesting a directness that is belied by the music. Outro is anything but direct. Emilie Kahn manages to pull layers of cloaks around and over herself and her music, adding to the mystery that makes up Outro.

At her most open, Kahn reminds me of Anne Tivel's album of a few years back. Small, delicate, fragile music even. A female voice, an acoustic guitar. 'Swimmer' opens Outro this way, but slowly more and more enters the song. A harp, Ms. Kahn's instrument, is a direct instrument, the atmospherics around the voice is not and this is where the mystery making up a part of Outro enters. It is even as if Emilie Kahn is singing ever more hesitantly, almost like being unsure whether to continue or not. Oh, yes, I'm intrigued, tenfold Ms. Tivel's album that leaves nothing to guess or wonder about, just mildly enjoy.

Promo Photo: Bao Ngho
Outro manages to keep this wonder up right up to the final song, 'Seeking', which is the most straightforward song on this collection, so an appropriate finishing touch. Without ever trying anything that sounds like any song on 'The Kick Inside' of 'Lionheart', Emilie Kahn manages to impress me in the same way these two album did circa 40 years ago. The woman-girl voice does a part of the work. It is the mystery surrounding the songs on Outro that do most of the work. Another name popping up is Patrick Watson and his fantastic album from 2015 'Love Songs For Robots'. (A record I haven't played for too long.)

Although I do file Outro more under pop than under folk, Emilie Kahn manages to play with her pop music in a way that makes it extremely interesting. In each song something happens that makes me want to hear more. Curious for the next small or big change and pleased by the quality. Outro is a fascinating album in more than one way and these are the better ones.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Outro here:

https://emiliekahn.bandcamp.com/album/outro


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

zondag 24 februari 2019

Double Coda. The Glands

Vergeten band komt met een verzameling restmateriaal dat beter is dan het meeste dat ik de laatste tijd gehoord heb.

Ik had nog nooit van The Glands gehoord, terwijl het toch een tijdje een cultband was in de Verenigde Staten. Dankzij een verzameling restmateriaal ben ik echter volledig bij de les, want wat is (was) dit een leuke band en wat is dat ‘restmateriaal’ verschrikkelijk goed. Meer dan 20 volstrekt tijdloze en nagenoeg perfecte popliedjes komen voorbij. Na één keer horen wil je ze nooit meer vergeten, maar The Glands maken ook nog eens popliedjes vol verrassing, waardoor Double Coda leuker en leuker wordt. The Glands herschrijft voor mij de geschiedenis van de popmuziek en wordt alsnog toegevoegd aan de smaakmakers uit de periode 1995-2000.

Recentelijk verscheen een verzameling restmateriaal van de Amerikaanse band The Glands. De naam van de band deed bij mij eerlijk gezegd geen belletje rinkelen, maar omdat Allmusic.com hoog opgaf over deze verzamelaar ben ik toch maar eens gaan luisteren. Vervolgens was ik snel om, want wat een leuke band is, of beter gezegd was, The Glands.

The Glands is een band uit Athens, Georgia, die in 1997 debuteerde met Double Thriller, in 2000 een titelloze tweede plaat uitbracht en vervolgens in de vergetelheid raakte, tot voorman Ross Shapiro in 2016 overleed en flink wat tapes naliet aan zijn voormalige bandleden en producer.

Van deze tapes zijn nu 23 songs terecht gekomen op Double Coda dat bijna vijf kwartier muziek bevat. Het is misschien 'maar' een verzameling restmateriaal, maar het is ook een verzameling songs waarmee The Glands nog twee geweldige platen uit hadden kunnen brengen.

The Glands maakte tijdens haar bestaan indie-rock in de breedste zin van het woord. Double Coda bevat songs die alle kanten op schieten, die met zevenmijlslaarzen door de geschiedenis van de popmuziek stappen en vrijwel zonder uitzondering zijn te typeren als volstrekt tijdloos.

Het is muziek die bij mij associaties oproept met uiteenlopende bands als Pavement, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Neutral Milk Hotel en Yo La Tengo, maar met het noemen van namen doe je de muziek van The Glands eigenlijk tekort. Ik hoor trouwens ook heel veel van The Kinks in de muziek van de Amerikaanse band, maar dit terzijde.

Double Coda staat vol met songs die op één of andere manier onmiddellijk bekend klinken en die zich makkelijk voorgoed in het geheugen nestelen. Het zijn songs die je humeur een flinke positieve boost geven, maar het zijn ook songs die steeds net wat anders doen dan je verwacht. The Glands beschikken hiermee over het vermogen om tijdloze, aanstekelijke en nagenoeg perfecte popliedjes te combineren met het nodige avontuur, wat in de popmuziek een zeldzame combinatie is.

Ik noemde het hierboven indie-rock in de breedste zin van het woord, maar Double Coda van The Glands past ook met enige regelmaat in de hokjes psychedelica, new wave, powerpop of in het hokje waarin platen die het goed doen op de Amerikaanse radiostations passen.

The Glands strooien op Double Coda met geweldige melodieën, ijzersterke refreinen, prachtige gitaarloopjes, bedwelmende zang en grootse arrangementen, maar de muziek van de band uit Athens, Georgia, mag ook aangenaam rammelen of toch weer andere wegen in slaan. Double Coda is zoals gezegd een verzameling restmateriaal, maar het is restmateriaal van een hele grote band, die helaas nooit groot is geworden.

Gelijk met Double Coda zijn ook de twee reguliere platen van de band opnieuw uitgebracht, maar op een of andere manier bevalt de verzameling restmateriaal me het best. The Glands bestaan al heel lang niet meer en gaan door het overlijden van hun voorman ook nooit meer een plaat maken, maar ik koester Double Coda als een van mijn grootste ontdekkingen van de laatste tijd. Wat een lekkere plaat is dit. En hij wordt alleen maar beter.

Erwin Zijleman



Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g
 

zaterdag 23 februari 2019

Solid Brass. Ten Years Of Northern Funk. Smoove & Turrell

How long do I know Spencer Davies Group's hitsingle 'I'm A Man'? I have no way of telling, but chances are as long as it is old, as songs came by when I was a small kid and some I remember vividly no matter how young I was and others were sort of there along the way. 'I'm A Man' certainly is in the latter category. Of course a few years later Chicago Transit Authority added to the fun with it's version late in 1969.

What does it say when an album released in 2019 opens with a funked and danced up version of that song from 1966/1969? For certain that the strength of the song has not abated in over 50 years. The way Stevie Winwood and the guy from CTA sang is emulated without any trouble by John Turrell. He has that rasp in his voice R&B, the classic version and soul need to sound anything near authentic. John Turrell has it in his voice realtime. I'm even reminded a little of Theo van Es of The Shoes. And if anyone had a rasp in his voice it was The Shoes' singer.

'I'm A Man' is one of two new tracks on this compilation of the past 10 years. Smoove and Turrell met in 2008 by accident, in the form of making music next door to each other. The combination managed to come up with a form of Northern Soul for the 21st century. Music that is extremely swinging, so infectiously danceable. The modern sounds in the rhythm blend with more traditional R&B and soul. The speed allows for modern dance. I hear some of Gnarles Barkley and Cee Lo Green's hits in this music. Above all I hear music from my early youth. The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, Tamla/Motown. This music has that groove.

It is quite a compliment to give. The singing is more one dimensional as it is mostly Turrell's voice I hear, the effect is the same. Songs for living, loving and dancing Solid Brass presents to the world. Songs that warm a heart and can make people extremely happy. Need I say more? I thought not.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Solid Brass here:

https://smooveturrell.bandcamp.com/album/solid-brass-ten-years-of-northern-funk


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

vrijdag 22 februari 2019

Untethered. Willard Grant Conspiracy

Untethered lag sinds de trieste dood van Robert Fisher op de plank, maar is nu toch nog het fraaie slotakkoord dat Willard Grant Conspiracy zo verdient.

Platen waarop muzikanten het naderende einde bezingen duiken de afgelopen jaren met enige regelmaat op en ook op Untethered van Willard Grant Conspiracy speelt de naderende dood een grote rol. Zijn terminale ziekte heeft voorman Robert Fisher geinspireerd tot een aantal intense en zeer indringende songs vol weemoed en melancholie. Het zeer stemmig ingekleurde Untethered, met strijkers die door de ziel snijden, opent nog rauw en hard maar dompelt je uiteindelijk onder in aardedonkere maar ook wonderschone klanken en nog één keer die fascinerende stem van Robert Fisher.

Willard Grant Conspiracy werd in 1995 opgericht door Robert Fisher en Paul Austin en debuteerde een jaar later. Zelf ontdekte ik de band pas toen in 1999 het prachtige Mojave verscheen. Ik vind het nog steeds een van de betere platen van de band, die met Regard The End uit 2003 echter haar onbetwiste meesterwerk afleverde.

Wanneer ik luister naar de platen van Willard Grant Conspiracy heb ik een voorkeur voor het donkere en vaak zeer melancholische werk, dat je gelukkig in ruime mate tegen komt binnen het oeuvre van de Amerikaanse band.

Ook het deze week verschenen Untethered loopt over van melancholie en dat is natuurlijk ook niet zo gek. Voorman Robert Fisher wist dat hij terminaal ziek was toen de plaat werd opgenomen en overleed uiteindelijk in februari 2017.

Dat er nu toch nog een laatste plaat van Willard Grant Conspiracy is verschenen is een klein wonder. Als sinds de eerste jaren van de band trok Robert Fisher aan alle touwtjes van Willard Grant Conspiracy en omringde hij zich met steeds andere gastmuzikanten. Na de dood van Robert Fisher verdwenen de nog ruwe Untethered tapes dan ook op de plank en leek Ghost Republic uit 2013 de zwanenzang van Willard Grant Conspiracy te worden. Frequent gastmuzikant en vriend David Michael Curry zorgde er uiteindelijk voor dat Untethered van de plank kwam, werd opgepoetst en tot leven werd gewekt.

De muziek van Robert Fisher was altijd al intens, maar op Untethered doet de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter er nog een schepje bovenop. In de openingstrack Hideous Beast schreeuwt Robert Fisher het naderende onheil van zich af en klinkt hij als Nick Cave in zijn jaren vol demonen. Het is een rauwe en indrukwekkende track die gelukkig niet de toon zet voor de rest van de plaat, want ik hoor Robert Fisher nog altijd het liefst donker en ingetogen.

Untethered bevat een groot aantal van de donkere en ingetogen songs waarop Willard Grant Conspiracy al een tijdje het patent heeft. Omgeven door donkere klanken en weemoedige strijkers imponeert Robert Fisher zoals altijd met zijn intense voordracht, die in de loop der jaren dichter naar Nick Cave is toe gekropen, maar ook nog steeds met enige regelmaat herinnert aan Johnny Cash.

De wetenschap dat het einde nabij was heeft Robert Fisher geinspireerd tot een aantal prachtige en uiteraard ook zeer indringende songs. Het zijn songs die het goed doen bij de herfststorm die over raast, maar Untethered is ook een plaat die hoort bij een stille en donkere nacht.

Ik ga Untethered niet direct vergelijken met de andere platen van de band rond Robert Fisher, maar het is absoluut een slotakkoord en een zwanenzang die recht doet aan het bijzondere talent van de Amerikaanse muzikant. David Michael Curry verdient alle respect voor de fraaie wijze waarop de plaat is vervolmaakt, maar het is uiteraard Robert Fisher die je nog eenmaal bij de strot grijpt met zijn intense voordracht en met zijn bijzondere songs. Untethered is hiermee een fraai eerbetoon aan een groot muzikant.

Erwin Zijleman

Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

 

donderdag 21 februari 2019

Garden Of Earthly Delights. Susanna & The Brotherhood of Our Lady

There are albums that are easy to endear to and albums that I instantly dislike with no change at repair. And then there is a third category, an album that makes you work for your money. That is where Garden Of Earthly Delights can be found. The kind of album worthy of finding itself on the tracklist of a Kairos show on Concertzender.

On her 13th album, and this is my first, Susanna lays down a mysterious world where her voice is central to all else. And that else easily might mean hardly anything else. If the sounds had not been as modern in sound this record could have been centuries old. The chant of a primitive people in the backwoods of Norway fighting off the winter cold, hardships, angry gods and darkness with their singing.

It is all but. This is the modern world alright where sounds are manipulated, nothing is what it seems, except the voice of Susanna. She purports to live near a magical place, Jheronimus Bosch's garden of earthly delights. She looks over the fence at night. What she sees is determined strongly by the answer to the question on which side of the garden she lives. Light or darkness, joy or peril? I can imagine her standing there for hours on end, watching in awe of all that passes in front of her, safe behind her fence. This masterpiece of Medieval painting by one of the most mysterious painters of all in reality hangs in Madrid's Prado museum where I looked for minutes on end, loosing all sense of time and place, just looking at this marvel with its hundreds of small details.

Promo photo: Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard
For her new album Susanna took her inspiration from Bosch's paintings. This leads to a musical mystery wonder land. Strange electronic noises fill my ears, while in others angelic voices sing together. Although the basis of the song may be just a simple sounding riff or a few chords, they are only the starting point for the electronic treatment the atmosphere of the song undergoes, the work of Helge Sten, who is a regular musical partner of Susanna and herself.

The Brotherhood of Our Lady is a new band accompanying Susanna. Named after the society in St. Jan's cathedral in Den Bosch that supported Jheronimus Bosch, this band supports Susanna. Although it totally unclear to me who plays what on this record, the contributions are listed.

To me it is inconsequential. All in all Garden Of Earthly Delights is as mysterious as the painting is. Nothing is what it seems. Some songs are more straightforward than others. Somewhere there is a folk element like in 'Wilderness'. The song is nothing but a reference point to the more experimental elements constituting the album. There may be a Gothic element in the singing. Above all Garden Of Earthly Delights is an adventure. In listening and in the making, I presume. As soon as conventional song structures are abandoned by Susanna and collaborators, anything is possible. And that goes wide and far. It makes for hard but extremely interesting listening, including quality. And that is not a given where music and experiment goes.

Wo.

You can buy Garden Of Earthly Delights here:

http://susannasonata.com/product/garden-of-earthly-delights-susanna-the-brotherhood-of-our-lady-cd-vinyl/


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

woensdag 20 februari 2019

ShapeShiftingAliens. ShapeShiftingAliens

Now where have I seen this picture before? I remember being slightly shocked by the hideously stuffed and dressed little monkeys. And here one is on the cover of ShapeShiftingAliens' first album.

ShapeShiftingAliens is a Swedish duo that works in a familiar format started by duos like Yazoo, Soft Cell, Erasure and Pet Shop Boys. There's a singer and a digital musician very adept at working with all sorts of keyboards, synthesizers and beats. Singer Johan Cléve and musician/producer Niklas Rundquist (also known as Brainshadow) lay down a digital pop atmosphere that in part could have been made in the 80s like the examples mentioned, were it not they provide an extra layer over their music. And that is where it becomes more interesting for the likes of me.

Unmistakingly ShapeShiftingAliens plays out a Bowie card. The 'Heroes' guitarsound can be found on this album in different places. Cléve is not afraid of going in search of a Bowie diction in his singing. If this were a competition David Bowie would win it without even a second thought. It isn't a competition, so it is possible to notice how these influences are woven into the 80s synth sounds and more modern (sounding) beats. In a successful way to.

Promo photo: Niklas Rundquist
Like some of the 80s examples I mentioned above ShapeShiftingAliens manages to join cold, distancing electronics with warm melodies and emotions. Although never a real fan of any of these bands, they all have some superb singles, where the blend they present is of utmost quality. On 'ShapeShiftingAliens' the duo manages the same feat. There is always a melody and warmth while the coldness tries to win in favour of the warmth. Listen to 'Showing My Face'. All coldness in the beats and synths that keep pulsing. Even Cléve sings with a voice near dead. And then come in all these little oohs and aahs, like little rays of light reaching the dark side of the moon by some sort of detour.

Another strong feature of this album is found in the diversity of the songs. Like a real Bowie album from the 70s anything can come by. With hints to music from 20s and early 30s Berlin of the previous century ('Stay') back to back with the already mentioned utterly cold 'Showing My Face'. While 'Stay' is replaced by a ballad, including a real piano and those Robert Fripp/Earl Slick guitar sounds, called 'Just A Boy'. ShapeShiftingAliens is not afraid of surprising its listeners.

This album may be a homage of some sort to the artistry of David Bowie. His quality, as in his best work, is never reached here. This duo has managed to blend some of his sounds and influences into its own version of electronic music. This part worked really well. There is melodic strength galore and a sense of adventure that allows for an interesting listen trip. More than worthwhile to check out.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy ShapeShiftingAliens here:

https://shapeshiftingaliens.sublunarsociety.net/


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

dinsdag 19 februari 2019

Negative Capability. Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull maakt op haar oude dag een van haar beste en meest indrukwekkende platen

The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan was ooit mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van Marianne Faithfull. De Britse zangeres was pas 32, maar haar stembanden piepten en kraakten, wat haar muziek een bijzondere lading gaf. De stembanden van Marianne Faithfull kraken inmiddels nog wat meer en haar stem is nog wat donkerder geworden, maar het maakt haar muziek alleen maar stemmiger en indringender. Negative Capability is een donkere maar zeer sfeervolle plaat, waarop Marianne Faithfull de zware thema’s niet schuwt. De instrumentatie is prachtig en past perfect bij het unieke en ontroerende stemgeluid van deze unieke zangeres.

Van Marianne Faithfull verscheen in november vorig jaar een nieuwe plaat, maar  werden we ook al getrakteerd op de mooie verzamelaar Come And Stay With Me: The UK 45s 1964-1969.

Deze verzamelaar met alle singles die ze in de eerste vijf jaar van haar carrière uitbracht, opent met Marianne Faithfull’s allereerste single As Tears Go By (geschreven door Mick Jagger en Keith Richards). Het is een single die opvalt door een rijke instrumentatie, maar vooral door de heldere, meisjesachtige en wat plechtig klinkende vocalen van een piepjonge Marianne Faithfull.

Mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van de Britse zangeres stamt uit 1979, toen ze het fantastische Broken English uitbracht. In mijn beleving was Marianne Faithfull destijds al aardig op leeftijd, want er zat destijds al meer gruis op haar stembanden dan bij de gemiddelde mijnwerker. Marianne Faithfull was op het moment van de release van Broken English echter pas 32 en was gesloopt door vijftien jaar drank en drugs in de entourage van The Rolling Stones.

Inmiddels zijn we bijna 40 jaar verder. Marianne Faithfull vierde in de laatste dagen van 2018 haar 72e verjaardag en kwam op haar 71e met een nieuwe plaat. De Britse zangeres heeft flink wat dalen gekend tijdens haar lange carrière, maar Before The Poison uit 2005, Easy Come Easy Go uit 2008 en met name Give My Love To London uit 2014 vond ik geweldige platen.

Op haar nieuwe plaat, Negative Capability, poseert Marianne Faithfull met een wandelstok. De jaren tellen inmiddels voor de Britse zangeres, en dat hoor je in haar zang en lees je in haar teksten. Haar stembanden kraken inmiddels nog wat meer en haar stem is inmiddels bijna net zo donker als die van Nico, maar met name de manier van zingen verraadt de leeftijd van Marianne Faithfull. Het is zang die vaak de kant van voordragen op gaat, net als Leonard Cohen dat op zijn laatste platen deed. Het zit mij nergens in de weg, integendeel zelfs.

De nieuwe songs van Marianne Faithfull, die in de meeste gevallen gaan over vergankelijkheid, eenzaamheid, de dood en het leed in de wereld (met een indrukwekkende song over de terroristische aanslagen in Parijs), kunnen wat mij betreft de concurrentie aan met haar beste songs. Ze vallen ook niet uit de toon bij haar debuut single As Tears Go By en het prachtige Witches’ Song van Broken English, waarvan fraaie nieuwe versies zijn gemaakt of bij Dylan’s prachtsong It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, dat op Negative Capability een Marianne Faithfull song wordt.

Op haar nieuwe plaat werkt de Britse zangeres wederom samen met producer Rob Ellis en hiernaast zijn er bijdragen van onder andere Nick Cave (die de meeste songs op de plaat prachtig zou kunnen vertolken), Ed Harcourt, Mark Lanegan en The Bad Seeds muzikant Warren Ellis, die met zijn viool zorgt voor prachtige en weemoedige klanken. De instrumentatie is sober maar prachtig en vult de ruimte met herfstachtige klanken, die met name later op de avond uitstekend tot zijn recht komen, maar soms ook een wat spooky karakter hebben.

Het past prachtig bij de wat krakende vocalen, die mij steeds intenser weten te raken dankzij alle emotie en doorleving die Marianne Faithfull in haar stem legt. Diep onder de indruk was ik na de eerste beluistering van Negative Capability en de plaat wordt echt alleen maar mooier en indrukwekkender. De muzikale erfenis van de Britse zangeres was al zeer indrukwekkend, maar wordt met deze nieuwe plaat nog wat imposanter.

Erwin Zijleman

Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g
 

zondag 17 februari 2019

Foxhole Prayers. Vanessa Peters

Vanessa Peters maakt inmiddels al een aantal jaren jaarlijstjesplaten en ook Foxhole Prayers is er weer een.

Ik was altijd al wel gecharmeerd van de platen van de Texaanse singer-songwriter Vanessa Peters, maar de laatste twee vond ik goed genoeg voor mijn jaarlijstje. Daar kan Foxhole Prayers ook zomaar opduiken, want wat heeft Vanessa Peters weer een geweldige serie songs afgeleverd. Het zijn songs op het snijvlak van pop, rock en roots en het zijn songs die de zon uitbundig laten schijnen en genadeloos verleiden. Het budget voor Foxhole Prayers was ongetwijfeld beperkt, maar dat hoor je geen moment. De instrumentatie is mooi en doeltreffend en Vanessa Peters heeft een stem om van te houden. Prachtplaat als je het mij vraagt.

Vanessa Peters is een Amerikaanse singer-songwriter, die inmiddels al een jaar of vijftien platen maakt en minstens even lang met enige regelmaat te vinden is op de Amerikaanse en Europese podia. Ze opereerde een tijd vanuit Denemarken en een tijd vanuit Italië, maar lijkt nu weer teruggekeerd naar haar thuisbasis in Dallas, Texas.
 
Heel bekend is Vanessa Peters nog niet geworden met haar muziek en dat is jammer. Heel jammer zelfs. De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter maakt immers muziek van een zeer hoog niveau en het is volgens mij muziek die een breed publiek aan moet kunnen spreken.
 
Ik vind de platen van de Texaanse singer-songwriter al vanaf het prille begin interessant, maar de afgelopen jaren heeft Vanessa Peters een enorme sprong gemaakt. With The Sentimentals schaarde ik onder de beste platen van 2015 en een jaar later deed ik hetzelfde met The Burden Of Unshakeable Proof, dat ik nog altijd met grote regelmaat uit de kast trek. Het zijn twee prachtplaten die nu serieuze concurrentie krijgen van Foxhole Prayers, dat vorige maand al in de Verenigde Staten werd uitgebracht en nu dan ook eindelijk in Nederland te beluisteren is via de streaming media diensten.
 
Vanessa Peters is met haar platen de afgelopen jaren wat opgeschoven van roots naar pop en rock en trekt deze lijn door op Foxhole Prayers. The Burden Of Unshakeable Proof vergeleek ik twee jaar geleden met de muziek van Aimee Mann en dat is ook een naam die opduikt bij beluistering van de nieuwe plaat van Vanessa Peters. Nu is Aimee Mann een van mijn favoriete vrouwelijke singer-songwriter, maar Vanessa Peters is zo langzamerhand even goed.
 
Ook Foxhole Prayers staat weer vol met songs waar je vrijwel onmiddellijk van gaat houden en die na één keer horen zijn opgeslagen in het geheugen. Het zijn songs met invloeden uit de pop en de rock met hier en daar een vleugje roots en het zijn volstrekt tijdloze songs, die je al jaren lijkt te kennen.
 
Alleen hiermee is Vanessa Peters al aardig op weg richting een goede plaat, maar de muzikante uit Texas heeft nog veel meer te bieden. Ook Foxhole Prayers is weer een plaat die de zon fel laat schijnen, maar het is ook een plaat die veel interessanter is dan bij vluchtige beluistering het geval lijkt. Vanessa Peters heeft slechts bescheiden middelen tot haar beschikking, maar ook Foxhole Prayers is weer een verzorgd klinkende plaat met een even doeltreffende als fraaie instrumentatie, waarin vooral het geweldige en veelkleurige gitaarwerk opvalt.
 
Vanessa Peters varieert op haar nieuwe plaat flink met invloeden en stijlen, waardoor alle songs net wat anders klinken. Soms schuift ze nadrukkelijk op richting roots, maar ook de uithoeken van pop en rock worden verkend op Foxhole Prayers. De nieuwe plaat van Vanessa Peters is een plaat die indruk maakt met de songs, die ook nog ergens over gaan, en met de instrumentatie en productie, maar ook de stem van de Amerikaanse muzikante spreekt mij zeer aan en tilt de plaat nog een flink stuk verder omhoog.
 
Het komt voor mij allemaal niet als een verrassing, want Vanessa Peters maakt al jaren prachtplaten. Ook Foxhole Prayers is er weer een en het is er een die me minstens net zo dierbaar gaat zijn als de twee jaarlijstjesplaten die er aan vooraf gingen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Foxhole Prayers hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://vanessapeters.bandcamp.com/album/foxhole-prayers

or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

zaterdag 16 februari 2019

Skeleton House. Crooked Ghosts

Crooked Ghost is a four piece band from North Carolina. Had I been allowed to take a guess, my take would have been British. This band certainly found its musical mustard in the U.K. of the 80s. As anyone could and can listen to this music, it can pop up anywhere in the world. And it does.

On Skeleton House Crooked Ghost plays with the darker 80s. That unhappy times for youngsters, who only later found out what a glorious youth they (could've) had. The dark sounds, despondent vocals, even Joe Strummer's tribal call from 'London Calling' is in here, twice. It is all not unlike the album cover. An unmade bed, dirty sheets and windows. Like any youth, looking after the back end of life not to forget appearances is not a main priority. Some stick in there, most become regular citizens with responsibilities, etc.

Crooked Ghost manages to present a consistent atmosphere on Skeleton House that moves between a few central elements. The music holds the heavy handedness Simple Minds had, the singing holds elements of Marc Almond and Morrissey in the meandering singing of Ray Clark. Traces of new wave from the early 80s can be found as well.

Promo photo: Rome Widenhouse
An important question is, do I like the music on this album? Well, it started so intriguing. 'Body In Stars' is this slow moving song. The guitar playing a pattern in two chords over and over. The voice sort of hovers over the music. As if an incantation, spell-binding the listener to hang on for the remaining seven songs. With eight songs Skeleton House is a short album, following 2017's 'Strange Burial Rituals'.

When Crooked Ghosts kicks up the tempo with 'Sleepwalker' the spell works. A fierce rhythm is kept up over which a guitar totally comes alive. The singing is meandering. Long held notes and words, yes, like Morrissey used to sing in The Smiths. I will stop using references here. There are so many more. The question what Crooked Ghosts actually wants to achieve or who it wants to be is a justified one. In fact during the album the spell wears rather thin in the end because of it.

That does not mean Skeleton House is a bad album, far from. The band manages to lay down the 80s atmosphere in a very convincing way, while the songs all have their moments of interest. Melodically there are no complaints, really. You will find that diversity is taken care of and in a positive way to. Even within songs the band can kick up a storm from nothing really. 'Catch Fire' just goes up and up, from the light-hearted dab-da-da, the band slowly works itself into a state, twice.

Promo photo: Rome Widenhouse
I find that I can listen to this album effortlessly. There's one thing missing: a real winning song. Like Simple Minds had 'Alive And Kicking', R.E.M. 'The One I Love' or The Smiths 'Bigmouth Strikes Again' and The Cure 'A Forest'. O.k., we are talking the absolute top of the 80s here, but it is a song like that Crooked Ghosts needs to stick out, in front of everybody else. For the rest, Skeleton House is an album every lover of 80s music should acquaint him or herself with. Fun is the wrong word where the early 80s were concerned, but yes, Skeleton House does offer it in its own way.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Skeleton House here:

https://crookedghost.bandcamp.com/album/skeleton-house-2


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

vrijdag 15 februari 2019

The Afterlife. Noctorum

Having never heard of Noctorum before my guess was to brace myself for a whole lot of heavy metal or worse. What I received instead was perfect pop/rock music, including music floating ever so lightly as if eternal.

The Afterlife is an enormously varied album. Almost as if each song was a loose project without any rules attached up front. Not that the band goes over my acceptance limits, so not that wild, yet so diverse. Nearly each song deserves its own words. As that would take up too much time, yours and mine, I will pick out a few examples, but first let me introduce this band, as it it totally new for me (to?).

Noctorum is a duo, perhaps a project would be a better description. Marty Willson-Piper and producer Dare Mason. Willson-Piper has played in 80s band The Church and collaborated with many other artists. Mason produced The Church among others. They teamed up in 2002 and released four albums to date. After an hiatus of seven years the fourth album, The Afterlife, is released.

On the album Noctorum explores music from West Coast singer-songwriting to progrock invested songs. The common denominator is that all are true pop songs, no matter what happens in the way they are played and arranged. The songs just come and flow ever forward. The kind of popsongs that are a true joy to listen to.

Promo photo: Olivia Willson-Piper
The Afterlife starts after a few seconds of ghostlike psychedelic sounds with slow mariachi rhythms and trumpets (or for 50% more likely synths). TMGS, Calexico territory. The slow pace gives the listener the chance to settle into The Afterlife. Within minutes the sense for details is divulged by Noctorum in the keyboards, the backing vocals, the trumpets. 'The Moon Drips' is a beautiful beginning of the album, but what to make of it, in the light from what follows?

'High Tide Low Tide' starts with a guitar intro and evolves into an indie guitar song. It is closer to a 70s rocker combined with 80s The Smiths than mariachi. You are starting to get the drift. The singing reminds me of Nat Freedberg's on his first solo album, 'Better Late Than Never', also released on 15 February. Both are not natural singers, yet the job gets done extremely effective and befitting the music.

Next up is 'Picadilly Circus In The Rain'. The music is as melancholy as the situation asks for. "Getting tired getting old" is part of the lyrics. In a way Willson-Piper sounds the part when he sings. Everything around him belies the tiredness as things sound light and spritely albeit in an old-fashioned way. That may be the paradox of The Afterlife. There are lots of bright silver linings to the clouds hovering over the whole album.

Some symphonic rock elements enter the album in a song called 'A Resurrected Man' but even more in 'Trick' and 'Head On'. Here the influences from Dutch symphonic bands like Focus and Earth & Fire come forward. Especially in the guitar sound and way of playing. Chris Koerts and Jan Akkerman's style found a place here.

Olivia & Marty by Charly Wulff
And then in 'A Girl With No Love' it really starts to rock. A fiery intro and a huge guitar riff drive the song onwards. The contrast with the opening (and what follows) is huge and more or less sets The Afterlife on fire. In the meantime Noctorum takes care of the option to sing along to 'A Girl With No Love'. Finally 'Head On' presents a flute like it is 1969 all over again. The slightly haunted sound presents a 60s flute sound, 70s keyboard as like 'The Persuaders'' soundtrack and modern sounds, while Olivia Willson-Piper does an approximation of Marianne Faithfull. Together they deliver one of the highlights of The Afterlife.

It is only the final song, 'In A Field Full Of Sheep' I could have done without. The lyrics are a bit like The Mamas & the Papas' 'Creeque Alley', a day in the life of The Afterlife in this case, it is the music, almost like The Afterlife had become bored with it all. It is not exactly inspiring.

On The Afterlife Noctorum explore past and present in a fully satisfying way. Two ageing musicians show inspiration has nothing to do with age. Noctorum delivers a very diverse yet solid album with The Afterlife. Many faces, yet consistent. Even a The Who style riff and organ come by in the intro to the title track after which the song takes its own turn. Just another small aspect of the band and proof how a band can surprise with each turn.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy The Afterlife here:

https://martywillsonpiper.bandcamp.com/album/the-afterlife


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g


donderdag 14 februari 2019

The Crucible. Motorpsycho

Looking at the cover art, it is clear that Motorpsycho sees a link between its previous album 'The Tower' and its new album The Crucible. The art has some resemblance as latter day Hieronymus Bosch paintings.

'The Tower' held several long, part experimental, part song structured compositions. The Crucible holds three long compositions in the same vein. Melodic, vocal passages alternate with long jams where a theme is explored on guitar, bass or keyboard while the drums pound away in the "background".

My very first impression is Motorpsycho presents itself as a powerhouse on its latest song collection. Another word is simply, wow. The high level of musicianship the Trondheim based band displayed on its previous album is easily maintained here. The combination of song and exploration again is presented so strong that its easy to conclude that the dip I noticed say around 2010 is totally gone.

Motorpsycho is releasing records for nearly 30 years. The band came into my life with 'Let Them Eat Cake', that I did not buy first time around. It was 'Phanerothyme' I bought a year later and came back to 'Let Them Eat Cake' any way. Since then I followed the band for most of the years up to circa 2010, to return with 'Heavy Monsters', albeit reluctantly. 'The Tower' really brought me back, including the fantastic show in Alkmaar last year. Full of enormous power and energy.

That is exactly what The Crucible offers to Motorpsycho fans. The album offers it in abundance. Of course there are no surprises. The trio does what it is good at. Think up a basic melody and hunt it down in the studio until it holds no more surprises; at least until they reincarnate live. There totally new vantage points could be discovered any way.

In a way the metal sounding opening of The Crucible is a surprise. 'Psychotzar' opens extremely loud. A huge guitar riff opens the album, a mellotron softens it just a little, but not a lot. Motorpsycho explores classic rock in its own style. There's no other word for it. 'Psychotzar' is no Deep Purple nor Led Zeppelin. This is what comes out though after this kind of music has gone through the Motorpsycho blender. Loud, fierce, solid, with always a melody around that only Motorpsycho can come up with. There're so many guitars flying about. Hans Magnus Ryan must have taken out his whole collection and stuck them in here one by one. The bass amp almost explodes under all the effects put on it by Bent Saether. After six minutes into the song there's even an interlude. Soft and ever getting louder, until the riffing starts all over again. Solid like a rock formation 'Psychotzar' is.

In 'Lux Aeterna' something surprising happens. The twists in the song sound just like Soup played on its latest studio album, 'Remedies'. Something not too strange as both bands come from the same city in Norway. It provides 'Lux Aeterna' with a little air as this composition has some extreme sides. It starts off ever so softly though. The CSN side to Motorpsycho gets aired here. Just an acoustic guitar and a voice. Slowly the song gets bigger, smaller, while the Mellotron gets a high place, especially in the 'Soup' section. Then the extreme and fast side breaks loose. Drummer Tomas Järmyr can really go full out in this almost jazz rock like interlude. There's devils and hellhounds on the tail of the whole band here. After the narrow escape all crash to the floor panting and puffing in what is one of the highlights of The Crucible. Not just because of the contrast between the two instrumental sequences, no, because it is so powerful, so melodic and extremely strong. The switch back to the acoustic CSN side is almost impossible and can only happen by letting all the noise die out, "to take the pain away", as the band sings. The Soup like sequence ends it all in grand fashion. 'Lux Aeterna' is another highlight in Motorpsycho's career and should be a great addition live. From darkness to eternal light indeed.

The third song is nearly 21 minutes long. 'The Crucible' shoots out of the grooves instantly. Follow it and again you will be surprised by all the twists and turns the band lays into the long composition. The only thing against it and this is extremely relative, is that it holds no surprises. This is a 100% Motorpsycho song, like they ought to be.

Recently I have started listening to the early albums of Dutch symphonic rockers Earth & Fire and Focus. Several parts of the music on The Crucible remind me of what I've heard on albums like 'Focus II' and 'Songs Of The Marching Children' and 'Atlantis'. Motorpsycho is able and willing to be far more extreme in its choices, but also to tap on nearly 50 years of experience in sympho and prog. Knowledge it obviously uses to its great advantage and turn it into a unique beast of its own. Motorpsycho is not the inventor, but the magician's pupil that regularly outshines its master effortlessly. The Crucible is another highlight in Motorpsycho's vast oeuvre.

Wo.

You can buy The Crucible here:

https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/motorpsycho-the-crucible/


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

woensdag 13 februari 2019

Soliloquy. Lou Doillon

Lou Doillon is present on this blog for the third time. Her first solo album 'Places' was reviewed by Erwin Zijleman. At the time I could only agree with his points of view and still do. 'Lay Low', her second reviewed album I took care of my self. 'Soliloquy' is mine all the way as well.

(For 'Places: https://wonomagazine.blogspot.com/2013/09/places-lou-doillon.html

For 'Lay Low': http://wonomagazine.blogspot.com/2015/12/lay-low-lou-doillon.html)

On her new album Lou Doillon blends past and present even more than before. The album has on the one hand something totally unique, totally of itself. On the other there are these little references to things long past.

Take 'The Joke', the second song on the album. The main sounds are very modern. Dark, brooding sounds, without exactly being beats, in the centre create a modern atmosphere. On the fringes there's something straight out of 60s movies. Doillon mixes these atmosphere to perfection in 'The Joke'. It proves to be a selling point for Soliloquy.

Her new album is more electronic than 'Lay Low'. Electronics, smooth, soft beats and atmospherics are the bedding from which Soliloquy is fleshed out. It is in the strong accents the album starts to come alive. There are simply so many details that I can not rule out to still be discovering some new ones a year from now. A sound I simply never recognised or never focused enough on.

Even in the fairly straight forward 'Too Much' so many little things are happening. The song is an instant favourite I notice. The driving beat propels the song forward, even when the rhythm is mainly provided by Lou Doillon's voice, it goes ever forward. Yes, I already love this song. Even after only a few listening sessions it is already a favourite.

Another part of the attraction of Soliloquy and her other records is Lou Doillon's voice. It has a rough edge, like a light version of Marianne Faithfull, so unbroken. She gives all the songs a roughness, even when the music does not. There's a hint of danger in this voice, an edge I would not like to encounter at the wrong moment. As I only have to listen to the songs, the attraction is irresistible and extremely rewarding.

Soliloquy is a very diverse, rich album. More so than it's predecessor, that by the way made it easily to my favourites of 2015 (and is among the best read posts on this blog). 'Too Much' e.g. is followed by 'It's You', a totally stripped song. An acoustic guitar, several vocals by Lou Doillon herself, showing off her different voices. The rest is just atmosphere and another winner is scored. So different, the same result.

The album has a total of four producers. This may well explain the very different approaches to several songs. The consistency of quality can only be attributed to Lou Doillon's songwriting skills. It makes Soliloquy a far more diverse album than 'Lay Low' that she made with Timber Timbre's Taylor Kirk, who is one of the four producers here. Soliloquy is the far more modern album with a extremely well-functioning rearview mirror. Even the typical rolling piano sound of the 'The Persuaders' soundtrack comes by.

Soliloquy is extremely rich in sound(s) and genres. This makes that each song comes as a true surprise playing the album the first few times. These changes are something the listener has to stomach. Well, I have and I can only say that my impression this early into February is that the first true masterpiece of 2019 has revealed itself to me. Lou Doillon really reigns. After the certainly nice 2017 album 'Rest' by her half sister Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lou Doillon takes back the crown in the Birkin dynasty.

Wo.

Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

dinsdag 12 februari 2019

Kairos 102, 3 January 2019 on Concertzender

Another year gone by and here is the first Kairos of 2019. Wo. takes up his task once again to listen to the choices .No presents the world with by way of his radioprogram Kairos on Concertzender. Although it seems that through the past four years plus something he is amusing himself somewhat more, probably through getting used to the sort of music he hears, pleasant and unpleasant surprises always lay in wait. So where does .No venture in this Kairos and will Wo. follow? Undoubtedly.

The familiar, yet unknown music sounds out, the slightly whiskey tainted voice does his voice over. A few seconds later the fun starts. A by now familiar name follows, Ólafur Arnalds. Behold, I am even running into this name in my newspaper. Lo, in a two page interview with Nils Frahm no less. Names that would have been meaningless to me were it not for Kairos. The soundscape is over before I've finished typing my introduction.

Already I'm listening to KJ Rothweiler. No barking dogs allowed though. 'You', is a rather removed composition. I wonder whether I would be pleased if it was about or composed for 'me'. All sounds are mixed in a way as if they all come from a distance in a very large hall or church. Somewhat blurry as if windswept or through a wall where part of the sounds goes missing. Like hearing people speak but being unable to pick up any words (that are not meant for me any way, yet so distracting). I have a hard time attaching to what I'm hearing, as in not.

A new soundscape takes over. A digital choir moves in and out over a soft drone in the background. It is Michael Price's 'Sandham' from his album 'Tender Symmetry'. The choir becomes more real. Wordless singing. As .No has not mentioned the title of this composition, I asked Shazam. No, no recognition, but the electrical sawing next door might have aided here. The tranquillity of this composition and the sawing is a bizarre mix, but one I'm dealing with right now. (A poem about groceries is told near the end.) (And, the title misunderstanding stems from a missing dot between Price and Sandham.)

The piano of Annelie also finds a place again on Kairos. Softly she tinkers away, while ever larger pieces of whatever are cut in two in the room on the other side of my wall. 'Quiet' it ought to be but alas is not. At least the radio with the Dutch 'songs of life' is silent now. Annelie plays her extremely slow notes slowly taking me over. I notice that this sort of music is released more and more it seems. The ultimate reaction to modern life? It may well be. Anyone who surrenders to compositions like 'Quiet' surrenders to the music and leaves all else out. No messages, apps, emails, no whatevers, just pling, pling, pling on a piano. And it is enough. There is a place for Led Zeppelin's 'Rock And Roll', to name just an example, though a very good one, and 'Quiet'.

I'm am pulled out of my reverie by voices like a siren's wail. After 'Quiet' it sounds like the equivalent of scratching of nails on the blackboard. A sound from the past, I guess. Trondheim Voices sings its wordless melodies. Some like witches, others like angels from cathedrals. Weird is the word here. Why create beauty to distort it with ugliness? It is an effect of course, but the right one? It made it into Kairos, so perhaps I'm wrong here.

Rothweiler comes by again twice. 'Sile' as only a fragment, 'Caro' for nearly six minutes. Although I would not be surprised if the two songs are somehow mixed. The loop underneath continues for a while and is joined by a beautiful piano motive that is answered by a darker one. The same answer over and over, the basis of 'Caro'. It is quite possible to get under the spell of 'Caro', a simple matter of letting go and go with the flow of the piano part or let yourself be caressed by the undercurrent waves. A few times I have the impression 'Caro' is over, yet returns again and again.

When it is really over, there is no doubt left. A high singing lady takes over and the quiet lapping of the undercurrent is truly gone. A holy song by Johan Duijck sung by the Flemish Radio Choir comes by next mixed into 'Sile', KJ Rothweiler's undercurrent. The singing is too high for my taste, the undercurrent quite impressive. Truly like waves upon the beach.

'Zilverspa' is a song from Broeder Dieleman's first album 'Alles Is IJdelheid'. At his show in The Hague, .No and I attended last November we, i.e. the audience, were allowed to sing along with the band. The community singing was so impressive. A man, a guitar, it is all 'Zilverspa' needs. Yes, more comes in later. Soft, delicate, fragile. This is a song that can break if not handled with care. Broeder Dieleman is a unique person in Dutch popular music, a tower of strength all by himself. A song to bring tears to your eyes.

'Selene''s piano notes come next. Ben Lucas Boysen is a familiar name by now. His album 'Spells' must have been heard fully on Kairos. Dark piano notes, a dark mood is 'Selene''s. Boysen is playing without much light. At best a faint dusk on the horizon before dark descends again. Luckily there's beauty in darkness and it is easy to spot in 'Selene'.

O.k., folks. Tie up, as the next contribution takes almost all of the rest of Kairos. Nearly 20 minutes are reserved for 'Glacier Looming' by Rocókon. Glacier Looming? That suggests music for eternity. Music in which nothing much happens, except the slow drip of water melting from the eternal snow. A droning sound, a sparse note here and there. Tucking into the atmospheric music I am reminded by the beginning of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', one of Pink Floyd's absolute master pieces. Yes, this could be the beginning of a progrock adventure, except that I doubt it will be. Birds' song is heard, most likely the mash up with Sytze Pruiksma's 'The Sounds And Science of Bird Migration'. (The workforce next door packed up for the day, now somewhere in the house dance beats have come awake, mixing with the deep sounds of 'Glacier Looming'.) Nothing much happens in this composition, yet within that time and space encapsulating nothingness a lot goes on. Small melodies are developing, a beatlike sound moves in, totally isolated from all around it, and out. There's always a drone or two involved. Harrold Roeland is not packed for time. He takes it and expands on it. The birds assist to enliven the glacier, like they might do in real life as well, soaring over the peaks in migration. Well, what to make of 20 minutes of this slow, meandering music? Not my cup of tea. I notice I'm too restless to truly surrender to it today. In another mindframe it might well work as there is nothing against what Roeland presents here. Just not for me today. When it becomes more exciting, it is .No mixing elements of the final song into this one.

Luckily it all ends with a track from Sophie Hunger's latest album, 'Molecules'. It took a long time before the LP entered my home as the first copy had a scratch. Coincidentally I played it with a headphone on yesterday evening and decided I was listening to a superb album. The switch to Berlin and electronics worked very well for Ms. Hunger. 'She Makes President' is the first song on the album. Totally un-Kairos perhaps, yet the sound is so nice after 20 minutes of 'Glacier Looming'. This song is direct in a totally dreamy way. Beats driven, yet totally melodic. A grand opener to the album, a fantastic way to close this Kairos. Sophie Hunger is one of the most important European artists in the 2010s with a lot of promise for the 20s, says

Wo.

This is Kairos 102's playlist:
00:04      Ólafur Arnalds. Frá upphafi. Album ‘Dyad 1909’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP 019CD.
01:20      KJ Rothweiler. You. Album ‘Ex’. DRONARIVM RD-54.
06:37      Michael Price Sandham. Album ‘Tender Symmetry’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP112CD.
11:39      Annelie. Quiet. Album ‘After Midnight’. Sony Music Entertainment/DGR.
17:11      Trondheim Voices + Asle Karstad. Sardin cluster. Album ‘Rooms & Rituals’. Grappa LC49093.
20:00      KJ Rothweiler. Sile. Album ‘Ex’. DRONARIVM RD-54.
20:37      KJ Rothweiler. Caro. Album ‘Ex’. DRONARIVM RD-54.
26:24      Johan Duijck. O Salutaris Hostia (from Cantiones Sacrae in honorem Thomas Tallis op.26). The Flemish Radio choir / Johan Duijck. Album ‘Johan Duijck Cantiones Sacrae’. PHAEDRA DDD 92058.
28:55      KJ Rothweiler. Sile. Album ‘Ex’. DRONARIVM RD-54.
30:56      Broeder Dieleman. Zilverspa. Album ‘Alles is IJdelheid’. BEEP 020-2012.
35:39      Ben Lukas Boysen. Selene. Album ‘Spells’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP085CD.
37:53      Rocókon / Harrold Roeland. Glacier Looming. Album ‘Generative Landscapes 1’. Self-released (see: https://harroldroeland.bandcamp.com/album/generative-landscapes-1-3).
Combined with fragments from Sophie Hunger (She Makes President from the album ‘Molecules’) and from Sytze Pruiksma (Red Knot from the album ‘The Sound and Science of Bird Migration’).
56:22      Sophie Hunger. She Makes President. Album ‘Molecules’. Two Gentlemen

You can listen to Kairos 102 here:

https://www.concertzender.nl/programma/kairos_479989/


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g