ALBUM REVIEW: Darren Cross – Keeping Up?

Darren Cross returns with a new album called Keeping Up? In recent years he’s explored folk noir with Jep and Dep, his own eclectic solo albums and a pair of instrumental acoustic folk albums under the moniker D.C Cross.

Here he orbits planet Gerling closer than he has since the band split back in in the late 00s. It’s still a totally different musical creature but the synthetic/humanistic/subtly anarchic blend that band explored at times is still rippling through Cross’ DNA.

There’s a cosmic nostalgia at play. Dreamy, fragmentary and hypnagogic in the feelings it portrays and the visage it conjures up, this is Kraftwerk disconnected from their machines and cast into an interstellar dream state. Hi-brow, lo-fi – allowing the machines to wonder and reflect. There’s a sense of suspended reality, a remove from the chaos of reality, pressing pause on the VCR, cleaning the hard drive, looking for a way to process and cope with the avalanche of data we consume and are unwittingly fed with each day.

Drum machines are treated like arhythmic heartbeats, lazily loping along with a melancholic funk in their step. Synths wash and cascade like ultra slo-mo and woozy waterfalls. There’s an overwhelmingly immersive quality to the music. Drug-like, womb-like – that intrinsic memory of holding your breath underwater as a child and feeling at peace in the aquatic cocoon.

Keeping Up? is a battle for optimism in the face of decreasing digital odds. It’s a non-smoking area for mental health and a dystopian glance back at the malaise of the industrial age.

NEW MUSIC: Dave Cherub – Chalk and Glitter

There’s some clever stuff going on with this glorious new single from Dave Cherub. Sweet soul music meets 60s psych pop, country-folk and the kind of skewed indie guitar rock that bands like Built To Spill and Flaming Lips mastered.

‘Chalk and Glitter’ comes from Dave Cherub, the self-titled debut album from the Vancouver country-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of the same name.

Thirteen songs, written in 30 days, recorded in a single year; this record finds Vancouver music veteran Dave Cherub writing, performing, producing and mixing every note of the record he’s always wanted to make. The result is a single piece of country-folk hewn from the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, arranged in a mosaic that straddles the line between heartbreak and happy place.

NEW MUSIC: Montecore – Ott Sauce

Straight out of the gates into a krautrock, psych sprint from Chicago group Montecore. The song comes from their One Night album that came out in May and they’ve already followed it up with a new album, House Fire Themes, which hits the same frantic, hyper-melodic hypnotic sweet-spot, Those kinds of songs that could (and should) go on endlessly as guitar solos fire off into the stratosphere, drums hit like a metronome and bass-lines tie it all together like Peter Hook on a bender.

NEWS: Boris Announce New Album ‘NO’ and Release Single ‘Loveless’

Japanese genre-destroyers Boris return with a new album, NO, due out July 3rd, self-released on Bandcamp. Check out the searing, careening distortion punk-fest that is ‘Loveless’.

A message from BORIS: 

“International borders are ‘closed’ now. 

All kinds of anxieties, fear, sadness, anger, and hatred have arisen to drive the world apart.Everyone is in a process of trial and error, doing what they can to live.The critical state of the world has placed culture, art, and other means of expressing ourselves into a dilemma as well.We decided to start managing our band ourselves again a few years ago, so we even more keenly aware of the current situation. 

It was our actions up to this point and our methodology, various cultural influences, as well the connections and support we received from people around the world that led us to create this latest album. 

Culture is lore that is not bound by blood, in other words ‘Non Blood Lore.’ 

We have put all of our influences and connections into this album so that they may be passed on circulated.That is our current stance now as Boris, our role and mode of action. 

The title of this album is NO. People have a system whereby they unconsciously grow accustomed to things and adapt to them.But, this same system is also cursed in the way it allows inconvenient or troubling things to be disregarded as if they were never there to begin with and goes by other names such as ‘resignation,’ ‘subordination,’ and ‘forgetfulness.’We renounce this system.‘Is this something I felt on my own? Is this idea something I came up with on my own? Is this something I chose to act upon myself?’Everything begins with questioning and denying oneself.That is the proper stance for people to adopt. 

Music and culture possess incredible power.The anger and discontent we had no outlet for in our youth shone through in our music, helping us to channel negative energy channeled towards creative ends and leading us to new means of expression and artistry.We hope this latest album can be a mirror that gathers and reflects people’s negative energy at a different angle, one that is positive.That is the power and potential of the dark, extreme, and brutal noise music that we have experienced up to this point.Today’s society is littered with words that may or may not be true, making it easy to want to just not listen to what anyone has to say.But, that’s all the more reason why we hope that you will at least open your ears to these songs sung in the language of another land.These shouts that have no proper meaning as words will help release the raw, unshaped emotions within you.This is ‘extreme healing music.’ 

International borders are ‘closed’ now.When we’re able to travel again, it will be proof that the world has moved forward.We pray for the day when we can share the same time and place again. 

Boris

NEW MUSIC: Past Present & Tortusa – Black Mist

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Out of Norway comes this fascinating piece of experimental dubbed and smeared atmospheric jazz fusion from Past Present & Tortusa. The trio of trumpet, upright bass and live sampling is composed and performed by Simen Kiil Halvorsen, Alexander Hoholm and Tortusa respectively. Space is the key to what makes ‘Black Mist’ so compelling as the digital details flicker and dance around the edge of the music, creating texture and nuance quite wonderfully while the trumpet and bass deftly interweave ghostly melodies and rhythmic pulses.

‘Black Mist’ comes from the album Eternal Return:

“Eternal Return is a dystopian tale told in three chapters. It starts with the track ‘Nowhere’ representing a beautiful utopian dream, followed by ‘Black Mist’, where conflict and despair have become a norm, and the final chapter, ‘Dawn of Hope’, brings light and hope for a new and better future.”

NEW MUSIC: Velvet Starlings – Kids In Droves

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Here’s a great slice of authentic garage psych rock from Los Angeles band Velvet Starlings, fronted by Christian Gisborne. ‘Kids In Droves’ cuts a fine balance between 60s UK mods sounds, a tough Britpop angle and US garage rock circa Nuggets. The single follows their self-titled EP of last year which has seen them generate some major radio attention and a US and UK tour dates.

ALBUM REVIEW: Beastwars – IV

Beastwars

Beastwars
IV
Destroy Records

Sometimes it takes monumental life events to galvanise a band, or any creative endeavour for that matter. In the case of New Zealand band Beastwars it was the diagnosis singer Matt Hyde received, confirming Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In the weeks following his chemotherapy treatment the band hit the studio and recorded their fourth album – a blistering, pummelling, cathartic battle cry of a record.

“You can never get away from your mortal decay,” Hyde howls on ‘Mortal Decay’. This is an album that addresses mortality and the brutal reality of our time on this earth and the fragility of life. Out of that there is a sense of immense strength and resolution from both singer and band. There are winding, ruminative passages in some songs that add a reflective quality to the heavier, more visceral sound that dominates the album, but don’t start thinking this is a metal band going soft, their essence of heavy swinging and paint-peeling riffage is still firmly intact, made even more powerful with the quality of the songwriting and ideas on IV. 

As musicians, the band sound freer and more inventive than they ever have before. There is colour and shade on a song such as ‘Omens’ which combines the moodiness of Tool with lumbering doom metal density, while on ‘Mortal Decay’ the song straightens into pure metal chug and gallop at the three quarter mark to brilliant effect. On ‘The Traveller’, Hyde stands exposed, delivering an affecting primal scream  before the band join him and carry the song forward on a comforting melodic bed of heavy bass and avant garde guitar squalls. ‘Wolves And Prey’ tumbles and churns like a spinning vortex and ‘Like Dried Blood’ combines a piano and Hyde’s ghoulish vocal to great effect as the thunder grows and the riffs thicken and fill the air like heavy smoke.

“Out of adversity comes opportunity” said Benjamin Franklin and Beastwars have taken that mantra and bled a visceral, life-affirming album into existence. You’d be hard pressed to find many better metal albums than this in 2019. 

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