NEW MUSIC: Rhian Sheehan – Still

New Zealand composer Rhian Sheehan has recently released a new album, Recollections, Vol. 1, which features a number of new tracks, and a number of tracks performed as part of his 2018 A Quiet Divide Album Release Tour.

Still‘ is a beautifully percussive and textured track that peppers an undulating piano line with clickety-clack rhythms that conjures everything from a ticking clock to a typewriter, or even metronomic footsteps. There’s a gentle lulling quality to the track for the first few minutes before tension is added using the same shapes but with greater push and a deeper synthetic swell.

Elsewhere on the album there are deeper electronic synth excursions, ambient and drone compositions and grand post-rock soundscapes.

Recollections, Vol. 1 is out now on Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa.

NEW MUSIC: Daniel McCagh – Altered States

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Australian composer and sound designer Daniel McCagh has just released his debut album Altered States, an immersive and sonically detailed collection of compositions that range from visceral sheets of digital rain to delicate filigrees and textures. He manipulates acoustic instruments to place them in evocative settings where the organic and synthetic sounds become one. It sounds futuristic yet connected to human spirit, blood flow and creativity.

The title track buzzes and shudders like a scene from a sc-fi film, all tension and a gradual gradient of intensity and right across the album there’s a sense of graceful wounded beauty.

Altered States is out now via n5MD

 

NEW MUSIC: JARV IS… – House Music All Night Long

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Jarvis Cocker returns with his first album since Further Complications in 2009.

JARV IS… is a band and the album is called Beyond the Pale, out on Rough Trade Records on May 1, 2020.

JARV IS… features Jarvis Cocker (vocals, guitar, percussion), Serafina Steer (harp, keyboards, vocals), Emma Smith (violin, guitar vocals), Andrew McKinney (bass, vocals), Jason Buckle(synthesiser & electronic treatments) & Adam Betts (drums, percussion, vocals).

JARV IS… formed to play a show at the Sigur Ros “Norður og Niður” festival in Iceland at the very end of 2017.

JARV IS… was conceived as a way of writing songs in collaboration with an audience. As the material they were playing was in a state of flux the band decided to record their live shows so that they could monitor how the songs were developing. After an appearance at the Desert Daze festival in California, Geoff Barrow (Portishead, Beak) suggested that these recordings could be used as the basis for an album.

Overdubs & vocals were added at Narcissus Studios in Neasden, London. Post-production work took place at Jason Buckle’s Place du Big Boss studio in Raynes Park, London. The album was mixed by Craig Silvey at Toast Studios in West London.

JARV IS… – Beyond The Pale
SIDE 1
1: Save the Whale
2: Must I Evolve?
3: Am I Missing Something?

SIDE 2
1: House Music All Night Long
2: Sometimes I am Pharaoh
3: Swanky Modes
4: Children of the Echo

ALBUM REVIEW: Chastity Belt – Chastity Belt

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Music is about mood and the way it sonically hits the ears, heart and mind just as much as it’s about the stories and ideas conveyed by the lyrics. The appeal of Chastity Belt’s new self-titled album lies in both elements but it’s the overall sound and the warm dreaminess that billows out of the speakers that provides the strongest appeal and connection point.

All four band members share lead vocal duties and they’ve spoken of adding more dynamic harmonies and violin on this record. Those changes are key to the overlapping, drifting and lightly psychedelic sound across the ten songs. Structural experimentation, such as the drums taking a minute and a half to enter the fray on Elena, take the song structures away from standard rock shapes and closer to post-rock or a dream-pop version of Sonic Youth, bereft of their sharper edges. In a way the album sounds like lo-fi jangly guitar songs recorded in high fidelity, given the rich and lush treatment given to the recordings. The result is immersive and, once the listener lets go, quite immersive.

Many of the songs unfurl slowly, gently revealing their melodies on repeat listens as they seep in. A distant descending guitar riff on Rav-4, the counter playing on Half-Hearted that works like a beautifully disembodied version of Verlaine and Lloyd duelling in Television. Split is another gem, bathed in reverb and a tumbling verse that breaks through the clouds into a skyward chorus, it again shows the band quietly pulling at the threads of guitar pop – like The Smiths and some of the bands that emerged from the underground scene in ‘80s New Zealand.

The album never reaches the peak and immediacy of the single Different Now from 2017 but taken as a whole and listened to accordingly, there’s a beauty in the textural nuance and overall gentle hypnosis of the album.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Rhian Sheehan – Last Time We Spoke

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New Zealand musician and ambient/electronic composer Rhian Sheehan has built a name for himself with nearly a dozen releases plus a wealth of soundtrack work and appearances on numerous compilations.

Fans of Nils Frahm will appreciate the nuance and blending of organic and synthetic elements in this piece. The way it pushes and pulls with it’s drifting piano melodies and mechanically-inclined rhythmic pulse.

‘Last Time We Spoke’ comes from Sheehan’s most recent album A Quiet Divide. He’s also composed the original score for the just-released Capcom Go!: The Apollo Story, an immersive 3D Planetarium Dome show documentary that showcases the historical achievements of the Apollo program and what it took to put the first human on the Moon.

NEW MUSIC: The Laurels – Sound System

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The Laurels are back with a new single/video, ‘Sound System’, their first with new member Kat Harley (Mezko) on bass and vocals.

As usual they’re working that hazy and fascinating space between genres that they’ve always navigated so well. Indie rock with art-pop melodies filtered through shoegaze and psych. This time round the song has a distinctly futuristic sheen to it, in keeping with its subject matter.

“High rise apartments and rent prices loom large over this paean to a future dystopian city, the inhabitants of which are doomed to a lifetime of evenings spent in queues waiting to eat at fine dining restaurants after a round of putt putt golf.” He continues “Sound System finds this group of part-time disc jockeys loading up their van with generators and loud speakers as they seek to reignite the street party.”
– Luke O’Farrell

The Laurels have Sydney and Melbourne shows happening soon:

The Lansdowne, Sydney
Saturday, July 20th
TICKETS

The Gasometer, Melbourne
Saturday, July 27th
TICKETS

NEW MUSIC: Blain Cunneen – Feelin’ Kinda Fragile

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Here’s the debut single from Sydney singer-songwriter (and guitarist for Julia Jacklin), Blain Cunneen. ‘Feelin’ Kinda Fragile’ comes from his four track EP The Prizes We Demand which is due out later this year and finds him crafting a fine line in art-pop that reminds us of Beck, Sparklehorse and dEUS .

The song’s melodic hooks are draped over some wonderful angular and interwoven instrumentation, where a light psychedelia is built on simplicity and strong musical ideas rather than being oversaturated in effects or weirdness for weird’s sake. We’re looking forward to hearing the rest of the EP later in 2019.

ALBUM REVIEW: Cass McCombs – Tip Of The Sphere

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Cass McCombs
Tip Of The Sphere
Anti- / Cooking Vinyl Australia

For a number of years, across seven albums, Cass McCombs flew under the radar for the most part. He was recognised for his work but it wasn’t until the critical acclaim and success of Mangy Love in 2016 that he went overground and found himself the talk of the indie world. That album was a fairly direct affair with a smooth veneer and darker themes lurking beneath the surface. Now, on Tip Of The Sphere, McCombs has taken a more circuitous route with a more cohesive, hypnotic and searching sound.

There’s a bucolic feel to much of the album, ‘Estrella’ being a typical example of the way McCombs weaves a 70s folk aesthetic into dreamy indie rock. There’s a fair amount of repeated phrases and insistent bass rhythms that add to the heady, aqueous and meditative vibe. ‘Real Life’ is like Tim Buckley jamming with Porno For Pyros with its percussion, strummed guitars and new age mysticism. The album centrepiece ‘Sleeping Volcanoes’ is a real highlight with cascading guitars, primitive yet pulsating bass and McCombs’ way with constantly renegotiated vocal melodies forging a gentle path through the song. ‘Prayer For Another Day’ is a more intellectually astute cousin to Kurt Vile, heading closer to the newer work of Steve Gunn. 

Perhaps sensing a need to inject some aural unease into proceedings, ‘American Canyon Sutra’ is a queasy trip through spoken word over a minimal drum machine that distracts rather than provide an engaging contrast. It’s only a momentarily blip before the cosmic psych folk resumes and the album closes out with the ten minute countrified jazz-fusion noodling of ‘Rounder’, a glowing reverie of sun kissed guitars that embarks, mid-song, on a psychedelic journey that sounds like it could wind on endlessly into the cosmos.

All in all this feels like an intimate set of creative and explorative musical expositions. Eloquent, contemplative and for the most part intriguing and absorbing.  

Chris Familton