What Got Heard: White Hills, John Coltrane, Ghost + more...

As usual, I've been checking out some music recommended to me by friends, enemies, strangers on blogs... +, as usual, there's some good stuff out there, along with some that ain't really all that... Here's a rundown of what I heard this week (* ratings are out of a possible 5, btw):

Administration Shock Him - 39:03 (2011)    *****
Post-rock the right way: instrumental + great for roadtrippin'. I hadn't heard of this band before they showd up on a couple of blogs I follow, but I will be keeping them on my radar from now on. The production is nice, giving this a polish similar to God Is an Astronaut. Music's in that same vein, too, with the big epic swells + tender little passages that keep it interesting + a nod of the head to post-metal's huge walls of guitars alongside some drum programming that tips its own hat ever-so-politely to modern glitch'tronica. The third track ('III' - yeah, it also has the typical post-rock pretentious-ass songtitles...) features a long audio excerpt from the Apollo 11 mission broadcast that adds so very well to some already-beautiful music. Big high-quality sound, solid dynamics... HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!

Dias de Septiembre - s/t (2011)    ****
Firmly entrencht in the post-rock / post-metal styles, with lots of trilled single-note guitar lines, atmosphere to spare, bass parts that bounce from almost-static foundations to lovely + melodic lines + back, a wide dynamic range dominated in the huge-sounding sections by big guitars, tasty drumming (which synaethesia my wife really dislikes: "Drums are NOT tasty! And they're usually verrrrrry dirty!"). There are some vocals, but they're few + far-between + nicely coucht in the mix (mostly long, held notes with some harmonies, used almost like a synthpart for chordij behind the main musical parts). This band has an excellent capacity for smallifying itself during the more subtle + quiet moments in the music, + also builds back into the epic parts quite well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Eternal Tapestry - Palace of the Night Skies (2009)    ***1/2
There's a certain something lacking in the production here, like it's a live-offa-one-mic recording, but the music is just so damn'd hypnotic + trippy that I can get past it. There's a callback to classic raga-rock here, with a cyclic building on the basic riff of each song that's allowed by the songlengths (2 outta 3 are around 17 minits) to develop from something sorta simple, or at least unadorned, into something more grandiose + embellisht-upon, before winding back down. I've heard 3 different rekkids from this band + have liked every one of 'em. RECOMMENDED!

Ghost - Opus Eponymous (2010)    **
Extremely-overhypt Eurometal... The whole thing has excellent production, but it otherwise sounds like a lost metal record (maybe Cirith Ungol with a different + somehow worse singr + a Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman wannabe on keyboards...) from 1985. The guitars + bass sound great, but waaaay dated. The drums are really solid, + they're comfortably coucht in the metal playbook, as are the lyrics. But the singr (+ vocal harmonies) + the keyboards are anomalies to the music, sounding way too much like they came from some 1970s prog-rock sessions or an album by Europe ("It's the fiiiiinal countdown!" 'toot-too-toot-toot toot-toot-toot-too-toot)... When I first heard about these guys, vocal comparisons were made to King Diamond; thankfully, that wasn't quite the case, except that, just like with Mercyful Fate, the vocals totally ruint this band for me. I'd love a copy without any singing or keyboards, cuz the rest of the music is straight out of my high-school metal memories. But this is being hypt as some ground-breaking shit, + the only way I see this breaking ground is in a graveyard with a shovel, digging up + defiling some classic metal corpses + putting 'em on an album. Sorry, but just... no. (The album cover's good, though.)

Gnod - Ingnodwetrust (2011)    ***
Oh, good googly-moogly, just look at that fucking beautiful cover... Psychedelic-as-fuck, this two-track 30+minit rekkid has dangerously-throbbing bass + a hypnotic drone-thing going on that sucks you right in. First time that I heard these guys a while back, Gnod + I didn't mesh well. Then I checkt out the Gnod Drop Out with White Hills stuff + decided I should give em another shot (cuz if White Hills likes em, maybe there's something there). I'm glad I did, but I'd only recommend it to my weirdest music-friends (or is that weirdest-music friends?)... Over the throbby, repeated bass-figures surf a range of crazysounds: delay effects on guitars + synths + samples. a knob-twiddling heaven. Raga-licious stuff. If you dig White Hills (see a trend here...?), this one is much stranger, but might also tickle yer pickle.

Henryspenncer - To the Timeless Valley (2010)    ***
This is a strange one, with elements of Krautrock, Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western scores, prog rock + Bruce Licher's post-Savage Republic desert-instrumental band, Scenic, all bubbling to the top at times. It most sounds like the soundtrack to some non-existent obscuro-cinema-europa film, composed by somebody kickt out of, I dunno, Goblin, maybe? It's good, but it doesn't really grab me like it needs to (especially considering how little space remains here for more music now). Not memorable enough to really recommend, but I definitely suggest checking it out to any fellow deep-catalogue-delvers...

John Coltrane - Cosmic Music (1966)    ****
Some far-reaching + inspired free jazz from a true jazz pioneer here, but not for the faint-of-heart... Alice Coltrane + Pharoah Sanders are also featured players on this one, which will definitely help the already-familiar decide if it's at all up their alley. Trane + Pharoah are really flying free here, building huge walls of sax + then tearing 'em down, though there are some tender + more melodic moments that surface unexpectedly at times, + Alice's trademark modal piano style is on full display. There's even some vocals, an invocation reminiscent of the one that introduces 'Om' shows up on 'The Sun,' which closes the album on a nice piano riff of Alice's that fans of her Journey in Satchinanda album will dig. Recommended ONLY for fans of Trane's free jazz excursions + fans of Pharoah Sanders' + Alice Coltrane's rekkids as bandleaders. (Others will likely think it sounds like a gaggle of geese flying headlong into a woodchipper made of drums + pianos.) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! (but ya gotta read the stipulation above...)

Pyrior - Oceanus Procellarum (2010)    ***
This shit rocks! It's a nice representation of what the young people call stoner-metal nowadays, with some of the quieter moments sounding a bit more post-metal... instrumental + grooving, heavy-as-hell, with chugging basslines + monster drumming + big wah-driven guitars + an obvious love of Black Sabbath. Definitely something I'd recommend for fans of stoner-metal stuff like Karma to Burn, but after a bit, it loses my attention, sitting on some riffs a bit longer than I'd like.

Sigmoid Argonaut - s/t EP (2009)    ****
A very math-rock EP (under 25 minits), with the requisite excellent musicianship, + a particularly notable rhythm section - the drummr + bassist are tight + funky + in total control of dynamics. Guitars are tasty + prominent, along with some very prog-flavored synth parts. And the music is badass; points of reference for me include Blind Idiot God, Maps + Atlases, early Trans Am, + even some old Yes or ELP (cuz that synth is soooo damn'd retro sometimes!) + old krautrock... if any combination of those makes yer liver quiver, go hunt this down! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Voice of the Seven Thunders - s/t (2010)    ***1/2
This sounds like some late 1960s heavy psychedelia, with that characteristic-of-the-time fuzztone all over the guitar sound. Not that that's a bad thing... There's an acoustic folk-chedelia vibe here that screams 'Sandy Bull!' at times, along with a lot of sorta-meandering Bevis Frond-y jams with tons of guitarij. I'd think that the folks at the Ptolemaic Terrascope really dig this. RECOMMENDED!

White Hills - H-p1 (2011)    *****
I love this band! This is their newest (double) album, + it's a huge slab of blisst-out psych-rock with their typically-heavy spin + a raga-stylee patience-in-development that lets songs build + fall (over a decent span of time, a few of the tracks are 10+ minits), grow + diminish - all while still recalling or echoing the central riffs. Huge distorted guitars + trippy synth bits + kooky effects-noises ride upon a monster tide of big rock drums + fuzzy bass. The vocals also work well - not a lot of vocals, really... usually some harmonized he + she vox that're not too loud, not buried... just kinda floating inside the mix, intertwined. And don't get the wrong idea; the album is plenty dynamic, with some softer, introspective moments intersperst throughout, drafting a well-crafted ebb + flow to the music. If you like the recent (more Hawkwind-flavored) Mudhoney albums, this is right up yer alley! HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!!

And that, aside from two sucky recent EPs + an older ambient rekkid that blew chunks, all from artists who shall remain unnamed here, is what got heard here this weekend!

1 comment:

  1. I like my drums to have lots of synaethesia.