Tiny Giant

So the saying goes that you’re never supposed to meet your heroes. Why that is the actual case or anyone presumes they will only disappoint you, seems rather far-fetched if you ask me. Then again, I’ve done a pretty good job of not really meeting any of my heroes thus far. Probably because half of them are dead. The other half I think I’d require some of sort fate-like chance encounter to even get near. Perhaps somewhat because I can come across as shy and undeniably awkward.┬áMusicians certainly seem to have that effect on me. Due to the sheer number of bands and musicians I actually like, I could say that I have a lot of heroes I haven’t met. I only ended up meeting The Qemists because I can jump high in crowded spaces and James Rushent from Does It Offend You Yeah? because my friends pushed me over towards where he was standing. Just to give you an indicator. But what about the opposite effect? What about when your heroes accidentally end up meeting you? I can safely say overwhelming happiness and the odd inhuman sounding noise were protocol on that day. So goes how the tale of this Tiny Giant piece came into being.

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The brainchild of former Pure Reason Revolution vocalist and current touring guitarist for Charlie XCX, Chloe Alper, and drummer, sound engineer, producer and all-round musical maestro Mat Collis, Tiny Giant’s call-to-arms is a clash between often soothing hypnotic ambience and ground-pounding instrumental punches. In short, like those floating dreams you have, only with the gods themselves hurling boulders in your direction at the same time. Most recent single Seeing Everything As Though It Is Real certainly implies as such, building momentum with a minute and a half’s worth of ethereal string-tinged cloud-gazing. Through out, glimmers and teases of an angelic refrain, invoking the spirit of Seventh Tree-era Goldfrapp, call out in the distance, showcasing one such area of the impressive vocal dexterity of Chloe if unfamiliar with her previous work. Ambience is left to form its own spellbinding drone, a little on the Eno side of affairs, leading into a moment’s cold chill of guitar right before a gigantic shift in tone. That cold chill remains a constant presence but ends up near muted, as the size and volume of cannon-force bass overlays and overpowers the previous serene setting, leaving drums that can match the ferocity and brute strength of the sound, and the soulful sirenesque demeanour of Chloe’s vocals for company. Whether the vocals sit in hushed climates, or revel in the carnage between guitar and drums, there’s no denying they are an object of versatile beauty and a phenomenal centrepiece to a truly involving composition. One titanic Tom Morello-inspired groove and final chorus later, and you’re left with a lot to digest. Tiny Giant are offering a unique take on a quiet-loud dynamic shift, forcibly smashing together dream-pop and progressive rock into an intriguing and strangely alluring sonic sculpture. The sheer potential and unpredictability of this combination, let alone the incredible talents of both musicians involved, can only ensure that Tiny Giant sit firmly on the horizon as one of the most creative and exciting projects to watch out for this year.

There is yet to be a release date for either of the two tracks, Seeing Everything As Though It Is Real and Heavy Love, which can be found on Chloe’s Soundcloud page, but there is a full-length album believed to be in progress, with a presumed 2016 release date pencilled in. Keep an eye on it. Only good can come of this.

In the mean time, you can give them a virtual hug right here:

https://www.facebook.com/TinyGiantmusic/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/chloealper
https://twitter.com/deadlydrummer

And if you feel like giving me a virtual hug too, be it via a like, a follow, subscribing or some nice words, you can do so here:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

 

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High-Functioning Flesh

It seems a complete mystery to me over how the phrase high-functioning is always perceived, or used in negative connotations. You would think that you were able to describe so many more items or activities in society as high-functioning in the way they are able to perform or fulfil that purpose to an exceptional degree. That tends not to be the case. While you could say that autism and Asperger’s could be fulfilling their role as a disability with flying colours, in making people’s considerably harder for them in a social and personal capacity, understandably we take that as an unfortunate and often horrific set of circumstances. Sadly, it is still often stigmatised, purely by those who don’t understand or are afraid of things not of the norm. But they are all human beings at the end of the day. They all have the same right to life as you, me or anyone else. They simply have to live life in a different or more difficult manner. Genetics is a strange thing. Which maybe makes the task of decoding what High-Functioning Flesh means all the more trickier. Is it labelling people who are capable of extraordinary prowess? Or is it that our own skin or being within ourselves, is a social disability or disease we all struggle with without realising? This is all speculative of course, but judging by their title of Human Remains, forthcoming from their second album, there’s an inkling or two you can take from it. Amongst the wave of troupes reinstating the old blood of industrial’s heyday, this duo from Los Angeles melds a warm, squelchy sequence of keys against the cold mechanical precision of programmed beats, whilst they dictate through the discourse of harmonised aggression. Defiantly old-school in practice, they take the scathing disenchantment of punk’s youth, piece it together with sheet metal from industrial’s proposed collapse of society, and drop a tab of techno to bring it to life, but not overclocking the construct. Human Remains sounds slightly more refined from a production standpoint compared to their previous works, smoother-sounding audio flowing from the keys at the inset, as a bouncy bass hookline interspersed with brighter stabs of synth create an optimistic tone in the track. The continual looping and manipulation of a voice recording and eventual introduction of tightly compressed percussion through out the first minute carry on this ideal, right up until the vocals break through. Then all projected optimism is stripped clean away, given the ghoulish subject matter of the lyrics. It feels like a battle between the expanding vibrant glow, characteristic to the building layers of analogue synths, and the harsh monotone truth of the spoken word, acting as the shroud of darkness, effectively warped by the phasing and pitch-shifting placed upon it. How this transforms the mood from a beautifully blended, 80’s nuanced discotheque floorfiller into a greyed cold wave manifestation of dread and sociopathy, is astonishing and more than a little uncomfortable. But my presumption is that what makes High-Functioning Flesh all the more of a spectacle. Their music is more than just a renaissance period for electronic musicians. It’s a wake-up call. Rather than seamlessly weaving the timeless ambience of three decades past with a fierce beat, they’re taking paranoia, fear and loathing and turning them into a occasionally understated, brutal sensory attack to shatter the illusion of day-by-day modern life. From what I’ve seen and heard, these guys are one of the most cleverly calculated punk bands in the business right now.

Human Remains will be released as a single on 26th February (also my birthday) and is taken from their yet to be titled second album forthcoming on Dais Records. Whilst you keep a look out for that, you’ll be pleased to know they are prolific, with their previous EP and demo available from their own Bandcamp┬ápage and first album Definite Structures is available from Dais Records own store. Most respectable music retailers still apply.

Go tell them how their music makes you feel:

https://www.facebook.com/HxFxFx/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/VideoMadeFlesh

And if you wish to tell me how this article made you feel, via a like, a follow, a subscription or some nice words, you can do so here:

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Iron Jawed Guru

 

I don’t know how often boxing or boxing terminology crosses over into music, or at least has a hand in naming bands, but it seems kinda few and far between. To my knowledge anyway. Perhaps most famously an example being the outstanding Glassjaw, whose output helped define the landscape for post-hardcore and its endless ilk today. I’m sure there’s half a dozen bands or so that are called Southpaw too, one of which I know are pretty good. Any more for any more? I got the Prize Fighter Inferno, The Boxer Rebellion and Title Fight (well, can be applied to boxing), but I think that’s all I came up with after some serious thought. I’ve never heard of an iron jawed guru though, unless that refers specifically to one of the greatest of all time, like a Floyd Mayweather or a Muhammed Ali or something. Part of me wishes it was something to do with having a mechanically reconstructed deity, but that’s my imagination going walkabouts. Onto the topic at hand though, Iron Jawed Guru is actually the namesake of a West Virginia based instrumental hard rock duo, whose primary objective is to conceive the most electrifying musical stampedes imaginable, solely based on just a guitar and drums. Last year saw the birth of the Caldera EP, a six-song sledgehammer that introduced those who tuned in to a cavalcade of white-hot riffs and a gallant drum performance, with enough speed and force to blast your stomach out through your spinal column. Their first full-length album Mata Hari continues that trend, remaining as unrelenting, never taking its foot off the accelerator for a second. While only seven songs in length, the rapid fire bursts of stellar hard rock action are an absolutely storming affair, with undeniably the most fun reaching the album’s climax Vesuvius. It seems they left the longest track until last to illustrate the best of their impressive toolset. Vesuvius opens like walking calmly into a saloon, seeing through the viewpoint of vigilante justice, sizing up every antagonist in the vicinity while keeping hands close to guns. The guitar and drums are an excitingly tense interplay, keeping a fine balance of riffs and groove in an almost Western blues-inspired tone, if such a thing exists. Confidence and charisma simply oozes out of their musicianship, two men possessed and intent on making all hell break loose and having the balls to butt heads with the Devil as he emerges. But much like the volcano itself, the pressure builds up too much and it begins to trickle over with the pace increase, before spurting white hot magma in every conceivable direction. If this was that Western saloon shoot out, justice by the bullet load would be unfolding as the lone gunslinger lets the occupants taste three inches of lead, from each furious guitar lick and snare bash. And there’s a lot of them in the space of the final minute. All in all, it’s a terrific thrill ride that showcases the talents of two incredible musicians, who are aiming for that lucrative title fight and have all the credentials and necessary ability to be a dominant force, and hoist that belt high above their heads.

Mata Hari is out now on Grimoire Records, which can be obtained on a digital and physical capacity from their Bandcamp page, and I highly recommend doing so. Otherwise, Caldera can be bought from their own Bandcamp page and also well worth your investment. You can find their music in most respectable music retailers too if you wish to do so that way.

Go buy them the equivalent of a social media drink:

https://www.facebook.com/IJGrock/?fref=ts

And you’re more than welcome to do the same for me if you so wish, be it a like, follow or subscription:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark