Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

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I think Joe used to like this band (R.I.P., buddy).

All right, so this was one of those albums that got lost in the shuffle. And by lost in the shuffle, I mean they gave me the download for free, I lost it, and then proceeded to listen to it on loop on Spotify. Hopefully they got at least a little bit of money. Anyway, Battlestations is this super-cool post-rock band from Brussels, Belgium. Before you say, “Ben, you always say something’s super-cool and never back it up”, I’ll give you this: In A Cold Embrace gives me this incredible feeling that I hated, therefore I loved. What I mean is that I don’t think I’ve heard an album that’s made me feel this alone since the first time I listened to Boards of Canada (try Geogaddi). Granted, the album artwork and the song titles (“You Are Not Welcome Here”) didn’t help, but it was much more than that. The songs constantly feature sounds going in reverse, which ALWAYS freaks me out, and really deep voices saying things that I don’t even want to decipher.

Between being scared half to death and suppressing the urge to turn on the lights, there was really something to love about this album. Their inspirations are all over the place, and I swear, they have some of the most impressive and eclectic layering  their songs. On their first track, they go from this cLOUDDEAD trip-hop beat to featuring a flamenco-style Spanish guitar, all the while over this guttural SunnO))) drone. The combination seems out there, but it blew my mind with how awesome it sounded together.

Track 2, “Comrade/ The Way We Grieve”, gave me the chills. Again with the layering, the entire song was like one big, fantastic game of “We Love Katamari“. The bass line was outrageous, and the fact that build-up broke all of a sudden after 5 minutes was a little bit disappointing. However, that’s part of the reason why I love this band and this album: they constantly keep you on your toes. You never know what you’re getting next, and it’s beautiful.

Rating: I literally could rant and rave for a paragraph for almost every song, but that would take entirely too long for the point I’m trying to get across: buy this album. It’s for fans for those who enjoy off-the-beaten-path instrumental music. If you’re the kind of person who likes their music one part experimental, one part heavy, one part haunting, and one part beautiful, Battlestations is your band. 4/5 kegs. [P.S.- Totally wins the “Creepiest Album Art Ever” award. By far.]

4kegs

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B.

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It’s been a month and a day since The Night Wears A Sombrero, where B. and I had the good fortune to meet and watch a performance from Oculesics. I guess now would be a good time to get this review going.

Never Odd or Even is the Connecticut-based math rock outfit’s debut album, released in July 2011, and it has a ton to offer. The seven-track album is about thirty-four minutes long, and starts off with a one and a half minute-long track titled “There’s Only One ‘I’ In Selfish,” which is very telling of what the rest of the album has in store. In ninety-two seconds, it touches upon every section of the self-imposed “postexperimentalmathyjazzrock” label very nicely before it flows seamlessly into “Space Nails!.”

Seamless transition is a persistent theme throughout the album. Tracks like “So Strange A Noise. . .” and “Ed Booth’s A Scumbag. . .” break away from this theme, having very definitive ends, though as independent tracks, their dynamics necessitated these distinctions. They even served well, being placed in the middle of the album, to further establish the experimental theme of the album as a whole, allowing for a new form of variety. That said, I listened to this album a lot in circumstances in which I wouldn’t pay any mind to the track numbers, listings, or lengths, like while driving. As a result, I found myself frequently thinking “I wonder when this song is going to end.” Upon looking at my mp3 player, I would realize I was almost at the end of the next track more often than not. That is not to say the music at any point felt like it was dragging. On the contrary, I was so enveloped most of the time that I had no idea where I was temporally in the music. In writing Never Odd or Even, Oculesics was fully capable of seeing the forest for the trees, and what beautiful foliage they produced. It’s the type of forest whose landscape continually inspires you to keep walking, to pay no mind to how far you’ve walked or how late it’s getting, to take it in for all it has to offer. With the same sentiment, the album ends with a simple, unexpected (though not abrupt) release, leaving you content in knowing you’ve experienced the whole of it, though further content in knowing you can still go back and discover more. It’s a similar feeling to waking up after a long night of pleasant dreaming to the warm rays of a sunrise. It just happens, and it feels good.

So…? I wore my heart on my sleeve this entire review. They share characteristics of early Tera Melos (a cited influence of theirs) and late Flaming Tsunamis, which are my favorite stages of two of my favorite bands. They also fulfill one of my key factors in distinguishing good math rock bands from really good math rock bands, which is having at least one song that evokes memories of Metroid, which in this case is the transition from “Rotavator” to “Tulsa’s Mom’s a Slut.” Not to mention, the album title, as well as the last three track titles, are palindromes. AND the field of study from which they borrow their name could provide for conversation and contemplation for hours. Seriously, look into it. Everything about this band is cool. Four out of five kegs.

That's a lot of gunpowder.

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By the way, the album is available for free download from their Bandcamp profile, which I posted just above. I would strongly encourage getting your hands on it.

-A.

In music today, everyone is obsessed with genres. If a band doesn’t fit within the constraints of a predetermined classification, new subgenres are created to appease those that want to feel as if they’re on the cutting edge. Very rarely does a group come along that challenges the need for such categorization. Galaxies is a prime example of this phenomenon. With their first release, (Why) In Three Movements, this Philadelphia-based musical collective has created a piano-driven adventure that incorporates elements of musical theater and electronic programming.

Unlike the light messages that carry most musicals nowadays, the piece is about one’s frustration with feeling suffocated by religion and the eventual turn to atheism. Lead vocalist and pianist, Corey Regensburg, leads the listener through a broad spectrum of emotions, with every twist and turn bringing the unexpected. Kyle Stetz contributes a variety of intelligent (and often haunting) electronics while featured percussionist, Kat Casale, propels the piece’s climax with tasteful drumming. Clocking in at just over ten minutes, (Why) In Three Movements is an epic journey to remember.

Influenced by the likes of Radiohead, Shearwater, and M83, Galaxies are particularly successful at creating tension within their music, as well as knowing when to let their soundscapes breathe. The beautiful harmonies and foreboding transitions will undoubtedly connect with anyone familiar with life’s ups and downs. Although broken up into three sections, this release functions as a single piece of art that should be experienced as a whole. Give a thoughtful listen to the absolutely brilliant composition and you will certainly be captivated.

Please check out Galaxies at their official website here: http://www.galaxiesmusic.com where you can download this brilliant EP for free. Stay tuned for more music and shows from this innovative group… I personally cannot wait to see where they go next.

J.