NEW MUSIC: Paso Viejo – Kitsune

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We’re always on the hunt for great post-rock that settles in that sweet spot between textural exploration and epic sweep, without heading too far into metal territory or getting too technical at the expense of heart and soul.

Argentinian band Paso Viejo definitely caught our ear in that respect, with this track ‘Kitsune’. It sparkles and swells, painting details in the shadowy, mood corners and allowing movement and graceful patterns of sound to flourish and evolve in an unhurried fashion before the final adrenalised sprint to the finish.

The track comes from their second album Agua de Oro.

NEW MUSIC: Bensnburner – Meanwhile

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Deep rhythms, warm tones and hypnotic glitches collide with hypnotic synth mantras and smears of post-rock guitar on this track from German composer Bensnburner. It comes from his new album (late September release) which was recorded in an empty 400 square metre hangar with a 30 metre high ceiling that created a seven second reverb.

ALBUM REVIEW: Big Thief – U.F.O.F

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Big Thief
U.F.O.F.
4AD

What started with a debut album in 2016, that introduced a fragile and poetic songwriter and her band, has blossomed into a fascinating and quickly evolving career for Adrienne Lenker and the rest of Big Thief. They’ve been touring relentlessly, Lenker even having time to record a well received solo record last year. From Masterpiece to Capacity and now U.F.O.F, the quartet have gently worked away at the canvas of folk and knotty guitar music that draws on both conventional song structures and avant garde curiosity.

This album continues the mystery and beauty of their previous releases while adding even more depth and textural minutiae. There are drone-like textures,  found sounds – like the rolling effect at the start of ‘From’, and fascinating percussive elements that rise and fall in the mix. There’s a feeling of perpetual motion in many of the songs due to the looseness of the arrangements and the playing which makes the music sound both improvised and highly arranged. ‘Jenni’ imagines a Cat Power-fronted Tortoise in the way they use organic instrumentation and allow volume and tone to fluctuate as the song slowly unfurls.

The straightest moment comes right at the start of the album with opener ‘Betsy’ and its sparkling acoustic guitar, gently shuffling drums and Lenker singing in a lower-than-normal register. It’s intimate and affecting and pulls the listener right into the album from the get-go. ‘Contact’ is dreamy and meditative until, as if waking in terror, the guitars gain sharp edges and Lenker emits piercing screams.

If they didn’t already, now Big Thief unequivocally have your attention. Lovers of inventive music would be foolish not to join them on their post-folk journey.

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.

ALBUM REVIEW: Lambchop – This (is what I wanted to tell you)

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Lambchop
This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You)
Merge Records

The band Lambchop is a very different beast these days, compared to a decade ago when they numbered up to 12 members with more of a conventional country soul sound. Now Lambchop is essentially Kurt Wagner with a small coterie of collaborators – a much more intimate proposition yet still possessing the gorgeous and hypnotic Lambchop qualities that have always been at the heart of their deeply soulful, emotive and intellectual music.

With compadres Matt Swanson (bass), Tony Crow (bass) and Matthew McCaughan (of Bon Iver and Hiss Golden Messenger) who co-wrote and produced the album, the band further refine the sound that first took shape on Mr. M (2016) and then blossomed into new eclectic pastures on the synth and auto-tune affected FLOTUS in 2016. Those new explorations are still embedded in the music on this record but there’s a leanness and a barer framework to these songs. You can hear the trademark melancholy via Wagner’s voice and the generally downbeat tone of the music but the songs are filtered through jazz, hip hop, future soul and the kind of avant-pop sounds that people like Scritti Politti, David Sylvian and Mark Hollis of Talk Talk developed.

Wagner’s way with words still shines through these lush textures, his devastating way of making seemingly simple phrases carry additional weight. It’s in his somnambulant delivery, the heavy use of effects on his voice but most importantly it’s the words themselves that carry the greatest weight and air of curiosity. “I’m in a Mexican restaurant bar, watching surfing and it’s amazing” he sings on ‘The Air Is Heavy And I Should Be listening To You’ and on ‘The You Isn’t So New Anymore’ he simply states “Michael Jackson just informed me that Santa Claus is coming to town”.

Wagner is firmly in his post-country phase, maybe he’s really always been there. Regardless, he’s a relentlessly inventive songwriter who is as devoted to sound, texture and atmosphere as he is to the lyrical possibilities of his poetry.

Chris Familton

 

NEW MUSIC: Christopher Willits – Sunset

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Christopher Willits is an acclaimed ambient composer and musician who has opened for the late Jóhann Jóhannsson and released two albums with Ryuichi Sakamoto and productions with Tycho as part of his impressive back catalogue.

The five compositions on his new album Sunset move from warm to cool designed as a soundtrack to embrace the day’s end. ‘Coast’ rises and falls like the ocean currents, a tidal blend of synth and field recording that conjures up a sense of immense space and the calming zen-like hypnotic nature of the sea.

Written by Christopher Willits 
Recorded at SnowGhost in Whitefish, Montana
Produced by Christopher Willits
Mixed at The Dojo in San Francisco, California and Overlap Studio in Oakland, California

 

 

NEW MUSIC: τεφλόν – επίσκεψη

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New music this morning from the country of Greece, courtesy of gothic post-rock outfit τεφλόν (teflon) and their track ‘επίσκεψη’ (Episkepsi), the Greek word for visit.

This track snakes along with just the right balance of gloomy melody and agile, detailed playing, building with orchestral urgency to a briskly curtailed climax. You can pick up the track as part of the Athens band’s two song EP over on their Bandcamp page.

NEW MUSIC: John Beltran – Childhood Memories

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It’s the tension and mood of this piece that caught our ear when we came across it online. The way that John Beltran sonically suspends the mood before introducing the tentative snippets of piano that flutter and suggest, like a butterfly unfurling wet wings. The back half emerges with greater weight on the back of swells of synthetic drift that rise and fall with heavy emotion.

This piece comes from Pure Sounds of Michigan an ambient album that invites listeners to take a sunrise-to-sunset tour of Michigan, from coast to coast. The album is set for a May 22nd release on Detroit-based Assemble Sound, and was imagined, created, and released by Michigan’s tourism arm, Travel Michigan as a part of the Pure Michigan campaign, in conjunction with the label.

The music was executive produced and mixed by composer Blair French, mastered by Eddie Logix, and features songs composed by the likes of Michigan-based heavy hitters John Beltran, Waajeed, and Windy & Carl, along with up and coming names such as Greater Alexander, Dave Graw, Todd Modes, and more.