We’ve always been partial to the music of The Notwist, the way they blend those beautiful sad-eyed vocal melodies with post-rock intricacy and krautrock rhythms. They exist in that sweet spot between song craft and experimental composition, always inventive and beguiling in their art-pop explorations.
‘Sans Soleil’ comes from the band’s first album in seven years, Vertigo Days, out January 29th on Morr Music.
There hasn’t been a lot of heavy music this year that has moved us and it was a refreshing surprise when we came across this track from instrumental Irish group A Burial At Sea. It’s post rock at the metallic end of the spectrum where changes happen in an instant amid the guitar crunch and clever drumming.
What makes these guys standout from many other exponents of the same kind of thing is that they have a two-piece horn section. When they enter for a defining mid-song interlude, the pummelling metropolitan chug is replaced with desert vistas under wide open skies, like Calexico jamming with Isis. It all collides in the final third where the sound billows and blossoms in an eruptive, cascading coterie of guitar notes.
The track comes from A Burial At Sea’s sea-titled album that came out last month. Check it out on Bandcamp.
‘Dear Liars’ is a new track from Melbourne post-rock duo Champion Motorist. Andrew McLaughlin (guitar & synths) and Paul Shea (drums) are clearly at the atmospheric post-metal end of the post-rock spectrum and this track, from their new EP Slight Return, travels a magnificent arc from the scene-setting tension and slow build dynamics through to the four minute mark, where that dissipates into the aether before returning with even more crunch and muscular intent.
McLaughlin spent a decade treading the boards with Melbourne group Radiant City after having played in band with Shea when they were younger. Reconnecting after twenty years, these songs apparently came quickly. You can hear it too, in the way they favour simplicity and a steady sense of order and control in their compositions.
Bands such as Smashing Pumpkins, Mogwai and Russian Circles come to mind when listening to Champion Motorist. Check out the full EP over on their Bandcamp page.
Pascal Schumacher is a Luxembourgan composer and vibraphone player who’s built up an impressive resume playing with quartets through to orchestras.
This new release comes from an EP Tropismes (The Mudam Session)where he performed at Mudam, the contemporary art museum in Luxembourg, and you get a real sense of how he operates at the nexus of classical and minimal electronic composition. The lightness and beauty of his playing is hypnotic, like a dreamstate transmission. Heavy-lidded yet full of life and verve, fragile yet full fully-formed. Beautiful stuff indeed.
Check out his full-length 2020 release SOL for a full and immersive deep dive into his work.
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.