Showing posts from November, 2011

Truthseeker - Weightless At Dawn

A truly massive sound is made by this young Bostonian band of, well I suppose post-rockers is as close a description as you'll get from me. Like Mogwai at their most animated but with more of a sense of melody, and coming from a more rock oriented direction, thunderous distorted bass and crashing Bonham style drums played by a guy who is apparently a death metal drummer playing slow beats accompany the life-affirming layered, fuzzed and densely reverbed guitars all of which are very loud but not noisy, if you get my drift.  A psychedelic swirl collides with heavy and post rock to create an uplifting tidal wave of pre-post-rock (heheh). It all comes to a joyous climax on the last song Through The Waves, and at 23 minutes this EP deserved to be longer.

Leader, bassist and songwriter Brendan James Hayter has come up with a simple but emotional and wide-angled vista for these five instrumentals on this their debut EP, originally released via Bandcamp on 25th September, and it bodes we…

Ranting Roger - Part Six

Somebody once said "Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one" and this critique is wholly subjective, and no attempt has been made to reasonable. So there!

Music comes in many forms, but essentially boils down to the Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent, and what one person considers "bad" might well rock another's boat, and thereby self-defeating arguments will disappear into the cosmos.

I will freely admit to being a music snob (and a beer snob, but that's another story) with an intense dislike of lowest common denominator X-Factor type shite, epitomised by any "singer" who has not paid his or her dues and expects fame and fortune to fall into their shopping-mall-clad laps as a result of a half-baked Karaoke performance on national TV, and who has had any vestige of individuality ironed out of his or her voice by that godawful voice cleaning software, said voice then applied to a generic inspiration-free R&B backing. Ah, I remember R…

Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow

An album to lose yourself in when the snow makes going outdoors a trial, sit at your window and gaze at the white blanket as it slowly covers everything and eerily muffles sound and thought while Kate relates tales of melting lovers, metaphysical Yeti hunts, angels and ghosts. Kate weaves a world that is personal, sensual and mystical, in a way that is instantly recognisable and you will find yourself lost is this otherworldly place. Instrumentally sparse, Kate's thoughtful and well played piano is mostly the main instrument with occasional electronica or orchestral backing for added effect.

Opener Snowflake sets the wintry scene as over its almost ten minutes it languidly describes the life and fall of a snowflake backed by Kate's minimal but deep ivory tinkling. Narrated by Kate's son Bertie, he intones "I was born in a cloud" which has a poignancy to it that blurs the role he is playing in the song. The ultra-sad and eerie Lake Tahoe is a ghost story about a …

Magazine - HMV Institute, Birmingham, 8th November 2011

After a crawl up the M6, where we spent an hour in a slow moving traffic jam, we arrive at the venue about halfway through the set of support act In Fear Of Olive. Playing a raucous rockabilly hybrid, these guys seemed an odd choice, and I have to be honest, made a horrendous racket which was at least partly due to a horrible over-loud booming mix that set one's teeth on edge.

Being a tremendous beer snob, it is a very rare occurrence these days to find anything approaching a decent drink at gig venues and this place has to be the worst I've been to this year for lack of choice. On offer were two godawful lagers, a cider, and Guinness Extra Cold, which for the uninitiated is the famous Irish brew served at a filling-shuddering freezing temperature so as to remove any semblance of its original taste. Someone tell me the point of that!

So, armed with a bottle of over-priced fruit juice each me and my esteemed fellow traveller await Magazine, now reformed for a couple of years an…

Radio For The Daydreamers - Mother Superior And Her Fields Of Migraines

In which Pittsburgh experimentalists Radio For Daydreamers take a leap forward from the sometimes irritating over-zealous minimalism of 2009's Clouds Of Smoke And Poison. This new album's title may lead you to expect an hour's worth of headache-inducing noise, but you'd be wrong. No, this album is a thing of melancholic melody, if of the strangely strange but oddly normal variety. Drawing on influences as far apart as modern electronica, jazz, classical, and good old pop, Mother Superior And Her Fields Of Migraines is a somewhat misleading title.

Video for Wasted Faces In Secret Places - electric mix

The first part in a triptych, alluringly titled "Praying For The Be(a)st" Mother Superior is sub-titled Act, relating the story of the protagonist and takes place in a single room where our hero is "..indulging in misery, self-realization, seclusion, developing phobias, anxieties and a need to break out to help his own mind. Accepting negativities, even tho…

Radio For The Daydreamers - Clouds Of Smoke And Poison

Pittsburgh's Radio For The Daydreamers have only been together for a couple of years and in that time have made two albums, this being the first, released independently in September 2009. Downbeat and strange, and drawing on influences from post-rock (whatever that means!) and modern ambient electronica, Clouds Of Smoke And Poison commences with Annunciation, a heavily reverbed  spoken-word treatise that may be setting out the philosophy for the band "..your job, as the radio, is to caress the people who are the poison, that works, like a Clockwork Orange, to make the dreamers believe they're smoking..." High ambition indeed, let's see what they're capable of..

Dark and gloomy, this is a murky record that for the uninitiated may at first listen seem impenetrable. Stoned mumblings mix with lo-fi minimalist and often distorted or over-recorded guitar, electronica, and synthesised as well as organic beats. Until we get to Rain on 24th Street that is,…

Steven Wilson - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 31st October 2011

Grace For Drowning was one of the most eagerly awaited albums this year, and certainly lived up to all expectations in my book, so my anticipation for this show had been building for some time, ever since my esteemed colleague PW managed to acquire the tickets some months ago.

Not knowing what time Steven was due on stage, and vaguely recalling a posting on his Facebook page asking the fans to get there early, we were seated to the right hand side of the upper tier by 7:20. The stage is shrouded by what my mate referred to jokingly as a "net curtain", and some ten minutes later the house lights dim and Lasse Hoile's trademark bleak images, changed every ten minutes or so, are projected onto the thin gauze accompanied by Bass Communion's ambient drones, which are an acquired taste at the best of times. This carried on for an hour, which was probably at least half an hour too long. One wonders why we were asked to arrive so early? Another of Steven's polite request…

Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning

I also write for The Dutch Progressive Rock Pages, and usually I treat my reviews for them as exclusive. However, as this is an important release in "The World Of Prog" I will make an exception. The original review can be found here and was published about a month ago.

It should have been a quiet year for The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz, aka The Man Who Never Sleeps, as his band Porcupine Tree took a well deserved break after finally cementing their rightful place amongst the rock elite with the triumphal Incident tour ending in 2010.

However, you didn’t really expect Steven Wilson to rest on his laurels, or on anything else for that matter did you? What to do for our hero? Well, let’s start with a new Blackfield album and tour, during which he had to cope with the sad loss of his father, to whom this album is dedicated, as well as remastering work for King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Caravan, and production credits on Memories Of Machines’ and Opeth’s new albums! I’ll bet h…