Let’s kick off the new week with some really nice post-rock sounds out of Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) in New Zealand. If you dig the type of music created by Mogwai and Jakob then this will be your kind of thing. ‘Ultraviolet’ is moody, dark and ominous even when it’s not heavy. It’s cinematic too, but still operates in a compositional rock format.
Empasse is the work of Nick Johnston, a local government bureaucrat by day and musician by night. Some of Nick’s previous bands include post-rock band Sora Shima, and indie pop bands The Changing Same and Dynamo Go.
Nick describes the Ultraviolet EP as a “soundtrack to a story that is not well known in New Zealand outside the Waikato Region where I live” – the story of the town of Rotowaro, a former mining village that was entirely removed in the 1980s to make way for an opencast coal mine. The mine fuelled the Huntly Power Station, the largest thermal power station in New Zealand which has been identified as responsible for over half of New Zealand’s carbon emissions from electricity generation.
“Ultraviolet is about the damage and wounds that we cannot see – in this case, it is the rural communities that have battered over many generations to grow and power our larger cities, as well as the carbon emissions damaging the health of our planet.”
Melbourne band Sunny Disposition have that certain Australian indie rock of the 00s sound in their veins. That mix of jangly guitars, angular shapes on the fretboard, jerky, curious rhythm section explorations and a fine balance between raw emotion and intellectual musings in the lyrics and vocal delivery. ‘Rain On Your Parade‘ twists and sonically wrestles with itself quite wonderfully and brings to mind Antipodean bands such as Purplene, Jebediah and elements of Something For Kate.
Sunny Disposition formed in the early-2000s and actively played regular live shows in Melbourne and Sydney. They released their debut EP ‘Drifting by a Scene” in 2005 and have now reconvened to release their new EP Full Of Reasons, recorded over a decade ago.
There’s a wonderfully warm and rolling feel to this new track from The Finch Cycle. It’s post -rock at its core but it also dials into that beautifully emotive 90s/early 00s indie rock sound of Australian bands such as Bluebottle Kiss – when it was as important for the guitars to lull and serenade as much as they needed to swerve and coruscate. The trombone gives the track an additional depth and melancholic tone and is a key ingredient to why the track works so well for us.
‘Forty Minus Zero‘, and it’s single partner ‘Ale Of Steam (live)’, are the debut release from The Finch Cycle (Melbourne VIC), an instrumental project for Bradley Murray (ex owner of Wireless Records and member of the band Sunny Disposition) who recorded it in a single day, in a converted barn, on a cattle farm estate, Rochford, Victoria, Australia.
Bradley Murray – guitar Daniel Zugna – guitar Kirsty Letts – guitar Andrew McLaughlin – guitar Brendan Bartlett – trombone Joe Magee – bass Michael Evans-Barket – drums
Premiered on UK website Backseat Mafia, ‘The Dirty Game Of Art’, a dark dive into temptation and sin, is the first taste of a full-length album that Meares and Dymke are currently writing and recording.
“‘The Dirty Art of Game’ is epic, cinematic musical prose that has a satisfying air of a life steeped in indulgence, pain and joy. Utterly cathartic. An album is in the cards, which I, for one, cannot wait to hear.” – Backseat Mafia (Arun Kendall)
Meares’ evocative and poetic songwriting, combined with Dymke’s musicianship and production have resulted in an immersive sound that blends elements of post rock and psychedelia with a widescreen cinematic quality. One can hear the ghost of Leonard Cohen and the artistry of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in Meares and Dymke’s compositions.
“Anth Dymke is, to my mind, one of Australia’s greatest bass players,” says Meares. “He does not simply play the bass but create a whole mood and atmosphere with his playing. It was a great honour in 2019 when he put his hand up to play bass with my band. There was an immediately musical connection and the whole performance of the band was lifted by his playing and energy,” recalls Meares.
“What I did not realise is that Anth is also a brilliant producer. I started to send him files of songs I was working on and he would turn those fairly simple recordings into something quite brilliant, but always preserving and expanding the aesthetic I had presented to him,” Meares explains.
Likewise for Dymke, the process of applying his compositional abilities to Meares’ songs has been a particularly rewarding experience. “The first time I heard Joe’s music I immediately felt a cinematic presence in it. Joe tells stories in his music and I was keen to start shaping some ideas around those stories of love and loss. Joe had always used very talented players in his previous recordings, and I was keen to slightly move away from that to a more synthesised, bleak, but glorious terrain. Landscapes created by an array of different textures feels like a good palette in which to ground Joe’s evocative storytelling skills.”
The visual component of Meares’ music is always an important part of his artistic vision and he has paired the song with a video that was filmed between the Spanish cities of Bilbao and Gernika as he returned from a gig. The evocative cover art for the single is a photo of Meares’ face superimposed on a 3-D printed sculptural bust of himself, creating an otherworldly, Lynchian quality.
‘In CD’ is a collaborative release from UK duo Stuart Harrison and Peter Dunkley who have played in post-punk bands together in the past but more recently reconvened to explore intstrumental minimalism in the vein of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich.
‘In CD’ is a piece in two parts. The first section is built around keys and guitar circling, looping and overlapping as they build up a hypnotic pulsing post-rock sound. At the track’s mid-point the mood changes, while some of the central repeating motifs still drive the piece along, albeit with a more subdued and reflective tone.
Says Stuart Harrison: “We don’t think that In CD sounds anything like In C – but we took some of the compositional elements, and in particular how Riley instructs ensembles to play his piece, as ‘inspiration’ as we constructed our music. We compose through a process of continual improvisation without necessarily having a defined outcome or even a structure, which tends to take us into unexpected. We’re constantly surprised at what we produce! With this piece, however, we took certain motifs and played them in slightly different ways on different instruments, particularly in the second section.”
Says Peter Dunkley: “Actually, it should have been ‘In DC’ as the first part is in D and the second C. We thought In CD was funnier, though!”
Check out their profile on Spotify for a bunch of other new compositions.
Liquid bass, stuttering heartbeat rhythms and melodies that fold in and out of the mix, overlapping dancing with free-spirited interplay. These are the hallmarks of Tallinn’s track ‘At The Freeport’, an art-pop song that inhabits a beautiful sonic space.
The song comes from Varieties Of Exile II, the second in a series of EPs from the New York-based experimental pop project of Scott Whittaker.
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.
US composer Chris Child & sound artist Micah Frankhave recently released their second collection of songs – Tape Pieces Vol. 2, featuring this fine track, ‘Static Wheels’. Experimental post-rock and ambient drone are at the core of it, generated by the heavy use of filtering with effects so the loops blur together and bear just an echo of resemblance to its original. The ebb and flow of the track makes for a wonderfully immersive listening experience with David Lynch/Den Hurley elements in its atmospheric mood.
Tape Pieces Vol. 2 was created with TASCAM 4-Tracks, the two recorded layers of short tape loops using a few vintage synths and a Rhodes. The loops were further disseminated into drones though an array of guitar pedals. Field recordings from Portland’s coasts were subtly woven in, providing a tactile sense of place which inspired the moods of these pieces.