Ironically, it almost seems like 10,000 days since we saw the last Tool album. Well, 10,000 days is the equivalent to 27 and a bit years, so not quite that far yet, but it has at least been a decade since the previous album from the LA masters of progressive metal. And understandably, there’s a lot of hype growing towards it, as on and off progress continues to be made, and has been for at least three years, not owing part to the now resolved lawsuit that had hung heavy over their heads for a lengthy period of time. There’s also an awful lot of impatience. So far, the only trace of new material we’ve had is a two-minute long instrumental jam, tentatively titled Descending, which by the band’s own admission is only a fragment of a song in progress. Yet the memes, anger and remarks persist. So I thought I’d offer an alternative to those dismayed by the lack of answers or have grown tired of waiting, by rounding up eight excellent, lesser known bands to listen to in the mean time whilst the new Tool album materialises:
I have never claimed to be a journalist of any description, even if I am covering new and up-coming bands, or writing music-based reviews and such. But then again, I’ve never considered myself a detective, but I do a lot of research into subject matters I have a large interest in. Like you’re supposed to do for a degree, but you don’t get awarded a degree for being a detective in media studies. I think it’d be a better title personally. I bring this up because for a new and emerging band, I could gather all the necessary information I desire to write an informed piece by asking for a press release, like a journalist would. But instead, I am belaying that in favour of doing my own research and bringing you my findings via this piece I present to you right now, perhaps in the spirit of playing detective. It makes far more sense in the context of L’aléatoire, despite collaborating together for three years, have only starting making music together in the last year or so. Very little information about them is publicly available right now, so this is what I can tell you from research. L’aléatoire, French for random or uncertain depending on conversational use, are a two-man electro-metal project residing in London, whom appear to have an interest in occult imagery, judging by a hooded youth as a centaur I came across, but seem have taken their image in a new direction more towards that of 19th century illustrations of sharp objects and tools, which coupled with their technologically enhanced style of music, actually makes for a far more fearsome identity. Their debut single The Untreated has only been in the public domain over 24 hours at the time of writing, so it retains all the satisfaction of finding literal brand new music. And when I talk about satisfying, it certainly satisfies an itch or two. Our introduction to this song almost feels like it begins in a medical facility, the quickness and tension in those opening synth notes bringing an immediate sense of peril or threat, like being under the knife if it were. The programming brings rapid cymbal taps into the mix and a deep, warm, throbbing synth joins in underneath, starting to piece together a fuller atmosphere as unease starts to set in. Kicks and snares are next to enter, as does the occasional sample of a sitar, which actually fits into the jigsaw incredibly well, adding a slight unique, exotic twist to an otherwise cold overtone. Right up until that saw-sharp guitar tone cuts through the electronics like a… well, you know. The beat starts to form around this guitar interjection, as do the synths and ambience, morphing into a far more dangerous beast than you could have anticipated. The encounter is brief however, falling just under the three minute mark and even though the composition isn’t entirely complex, it remains absolutely gripping, purely through surgically precise production. It certainly sits as an intriguing teaser if anything, and judging by their prowess to produce live industrial mixes, there is a huge amount of promise and possibility to come soon. Illustrations aside, they have all the tools they need to make it happen.
The Untreated is available for a free download here, ahead of a debut EP release, scheduled for sometime in Spring. They’ve just released a video for the track which can be found right here on YouTube, but you can enjoy their industrial live mix right here in the mean time on their Soundcloud if this has tickled your fancy.
They’ve just started making moves with their social media, so go give them your support to get the machine up-and-running:
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I’ve often looked at band names and wondering if there is a market for bands whose names are questions. In a romantic sense, a fictional band in my favourite film ever is called Where’s Fluffy? A band I wish existed due to how obsessed I actually am with that film, so I could find out how awesome their music is/was. They wrote a song called Black Carnage. Do the math. On the other hand, and on a point I may expand upon at a later date, when you name your band something along the lines of Sarah Where Is My Tea or Did You Mean Australia?… yeah, those bands have broken up now. One of my favourite bands ever are Does It Offend You, Yeah?, responsible for one of my favourite albums ever, but sadly they too will be calling it a day this year. Maybe it’s just the irony of having their band name as a question that gets far too much for them. Pure speculation there. So just who exactly is Who Is Louis? And can people count on them to break this unfortunate curse? The answer seems more positive. Who Is Louis are a Danish electronic-pop troupe with a delicately sassy female vocalist and an ear for hypnotic rhythms and chilling, euphoric atmosphere. Singles of theirs currently float around on the internet if you go in pursuit of them, but they’re looking to the immediate future and to the imminent release of their debut album, which has seen more than its fair share of adversity to reach the surface. They have every right to be excited for the future. First single Fancy Me is a shape-shifting head phase of a track, skilfully blending pseudo-EDM hooks with the cool breeze of mellowed guitar ambience. I’m not intentionally writing a drinks commercial here, but it is like asking for a refreshing cocktail and piling on the ice. Synth with an analogue touch, backs the echoes of a femme fatale in the making, all paced by the gentle plucking of bass underneath to lead the track in. Icy, reverb-soaked synth stabs later replace the moderately warmer pads, like ghosts leaving the body of their hosts and give an air of tension and build-up to proceedings. The drums certainly imply as such too. But what happens as you expect the first club hit of 2016 to drop in, is something far more breathtaking. A wave of guitar brushes past, while its synth counterpart elevates the mood to being within a distant but fond, happy memory. Wandering through a realm of the serene if it were. It certainly livens up the track, as synths become far more grander and confident in their presentation in what follows and drums get rowdier, but just enough without becoming overpowering. Vocals are given more freedom and the stabs from before are allowed back into the mix as an extra hook into the skin, to ensure you don’t forget this track in a hurry. It all culminates in a luscious, surprisingly complex and layered, atmospheric pop showcase that displays the talent of three hungry and compelling musicians. So just who are Who Is Louis? A name you need to be paying attention to. The potential for a tantalising world woven together with an inventive twist on electronic pop music is only moments away.
Who Is Louis’ debut album is expected to be released sometime in January/February 2016, with Fancy Me being officially available at the end of this month. In the mean time, occupy yourself with their Alive EP which can be found on most respectable music retailers. It’s full of good music.
Tell them their music is wonderful by going here:
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Technology always finds a way to astound us as human beings. It seems that however our civilisation conducts ourselves, there is something beyond our imagination that we hadn’t considered or we didn’t believe was possible. That is whether a new mechanical marvel or edging nearer photo-realistic graphics in a video game, just to name two examples of possibilities, constant breakthroughs or refinements, or even building something entirely from the ground upwards keeps us on our toes, wondering what is next to come. I find my relationship with electronic music is very much a similar affair. Only you occasionally have to excavate producers or musicians who dare to innovate or engineer like no one before them. That certainly seemed the case with the one man electro-industrial project The .Invalid, a true beacon of hope in the bland landfill of harsh distorted vocals and overly intense synthesisers. The vision of Edinburgh resident Seamus Bradd, The .Invalid ties together dual vocals leaning on a metal sensibility of clean and screamed, but atop a mountain of utterly breathtaking ambience and jaw-dropping production values, especially for a debut LP. For something titled The Aesthetics Of Failure however, unless in reference to the vast soundscape of emotions and moods linked to such that is explored on the album, the end result is nothing short of triumphant. Ranging from four to the floor soul-charged EBM stompers to atmospheric marvels to downtempo tugs of the heart, even more synth-pop orientated numbers, there seems to be very little the undeniably talented producer can’t do. In an album full of stellar, stand-out tracks, wittling down to a personal favourite seems incredibly unfair for undoubtedly one of the best albums I’ve heard last year. The honour does go to, as also indicated by my favourite songs of last year, Blind Myself for balancing everything that this album accomplishes so well into just over four minutes of EBM magnificence. From the introduction of rhythmic static, it leads in a beat engineered to thump you hard right in the chest, while warm arpeggios bubble beneath it, but never overpoweringly so. If anything is overpowering, it’s the euphoria from the emotional intensity from both sets of vocals, especially against the melody of the bright, airier synth in the chorus, which in its own right, hands down one of the most beautiful moments on the entire album. While lyrics are hard set on settling the score on a heartbreak, they really strengthen the impact of every intricacy and nuance in the sound design, no matter which tone is in use. The entire track is just the total package of what an unforgettable floorfiller should be: a memorable hook, a beat that shakes you to the core, perfectly complimenting layers of instrumentation, an atmosphere that expands any venue tenfold and the added emotional depth of a familiar life situation. Make no bones about it, the talent that this man has is unreal, and for a first LP, the energy and due care shown in his production defies vocabulary. This album is by far the most exciting injection of lifeblood into electro-industrial, in a very, very long time and broadcasts the emergence of an extremely capable producer, destined for greatness down to his extraordinary ability.
Traces of The .Invalid and Seamus Bradd appear to have disappeared from social media (apart from his personal Twitter account which I’m not gonna link to for privacy’s sake), he currently is now providing sound design for a new Halo mod, but please please please go listen to and buy The Aesthetics Of Failure from Bandcamp, it is an investment you will not regret. Also available at most respectable music retailers too, but just go give the man money.
And if you think I’ve done this gentleman justice, maybe you’d like to show me some support too by giving me a digital thumbs up, like, follow or subscription to the blog, all entirely optional of course:
Biology time! So what is and where can you find the cloaca in the body, or in a body? I realise I’m essentially talking to myself here, but it’s a word that looks like it could mean something in Spanish to the uninformed. Like it’s some sort of species of mollusc in Latin or something. A cloaca is actually the cavity most commonly found in vertebrates and some invertebrates that serves as an exit for the digestive tract or for genitalia. Exactly what you needed to know at 10 in the morning. But Cloaca in this instance, setting aside some other acts with the same name, including an up-and-coming Pennsylvania group, are an Ipswich-born metal group, whose focus involves the creation of an awe-inspiring but undeniably crushing ambience and expanding that construct over extended intervals.The music is the equivalent of watching a candle in darkness, witnessing the wick slowly diminish whilst the flame breaks down the pillar it stands upon. Yet as you focus upon the fiery flicker, you start to see a world burning from it, a world of hatred, turmoil and devastation whilst the screams of a tormented and tortured soul narrate these visions, trying to rip his throat out in utter agony. As bleak as it sounds, the screams are few and far between, leaving the constant repetition and build-up of ambience an incredibly hypnotising affair to listen through. Though the album Lassitude only spans 5 songs, it is still over an hour of music, built as absolute escapism in absolute decimation. The Golden Path absorbs over a fifth of that running time, the titanic wall of sound leaving no pause for breath and no survivors, leaving enough humanity in the guitar to seep sorrow into the dense ambience, before it’s eviscerated. You may label it as depressing or even unlistenable at times, but this is very much an extreme form of music as performance art. Cloaca are among a special breed of metal musicians, ones that are capable of exploring soundscapes not conceivable by conventional means, but can infuse it with the harsh realities of life, either discomforting or rewarding if you can bare it.
Cloaca are most likely defunct as of right now, but Lassitude, their sole album is available from most respectable online music retailers in physical and digital format.
How do you imagine what your dreams sound like? Or even stop to consider what they could sound like? The sheer insanity of mine at times compliment the eclecticism of my whole diverse musical taste, ranging from wandering around car parks, to being chasing by giant talking fish, to free-running around a shipyard made entirely of Lego, to being haunted by a list of the 100 creepiest Japanese girls in horror films… You get the idea, it’s pretty bizarre. However the idea of sleeping or settling to sleep is supposedly one of the most calming moods known to mankind, and as such, pictures a feeling of relaxation and contentment in body and mind before rest. Supreme relaxation in sound courtesy of Greek post rock outfit Sleepstream however takes this initial sentiment and heightens it with grandiose delivery. Specialising in orchestral-blanketed guitar journeys that unravel gradually from softer lullabies with a pinch of sorrow, to extended tremolos against a huge backdrop of sound, that capture the idea of freefall or floating superbly. A lot of post rock may transport you to another dimension entirely, but none will be as moving as the addition of strings to the core formula, of which the results sound far more human than many bands that have tried. Opening track of 2011’s A Waltz With The Seventh Crane, the melancholy titled You Gave Me Butterflies, I Gave You Loss, plays on the joy emanating from a person in the five minute tale, characterised by acoustic strokes, then combining it with the downcast nature of the other, brought to life by the introduction of the electric guitar and the largely more prominent violin and cello. Listening in on this embrace between star-crossed lovers, grants a sense of audience privilege and could almost invoke guilt at knowing these personifications of sound, are not fated to be. An absolute stroke of genius. Many groups can tell a tale, with or without words, only some of them can muster your emotional investment, but Sleepstream are a selective few that can make you feel the story unfolding and the drama touch the inner fibres of your being. The soundtrack of your dreams? Perhaps, but most certainly it is a cinematic landscape with such radiant beauty, it will stun but enthral you every inch of the way.
A Waltz With The Seventh Crane and last year’s They Flew In Censored Skies can be purchased from Sleepstream’s Bandcamp page for a reasonable sum, via Fluttery Records or from most respectable music retailers.
There was a phrase that started to emerge in early to late nineties when electronic music was branching into unfound territories and transforming into something so game-changing and ahead of its time, critics had no name for it. Little were labellers to know that the consequences of the name were attract such rightful backlash. They called it ‘intelligent dance music’ or IDM, which supposedly suggested that the producers making such outstanding music were of a higher intellectual calibre, or its listeners were an elite group who understood the complexity of the marvels they created. The label is still used today as a hype word, but there is still resentment around it. Legiac are in a newer breed of producers, inspired by the later works of Aphex Twin, formed as a collaboration between the brothers of Dutch electronic outfit Funckarma and composer Cor Bolten. Minus one brother come 2015, and their second studio effort The Faex Has Decimated (which I had to Google admittedly, faex actually means faeces, draw your own conclusions) is another stellar addition to the realm of evocative electronic music. The beats and sequencing here are absolutely sublime and immaculately produced, thriving in a whirlwind of organically shifting atmosphere and landscapes, icy to the touch, but ultimately settling enough to zone out to. Synths gleam and shimmer throughout, whilst programming sends the percussion into spasms, in an understated manner that doesn’t detract from the colossal scope of texture and atmosphere unravelling in front of you. Jefre Treminth, the third track in, is a serene, prosperous forest that revolves and rotates around its spacy ecosystem, before nightfall descends and the atmosphere becomes a lot more animated with additional beats and destruction of time signatures. As much as a surefire label escapes some electronic artists, often the words do as such also. This is a phenomenal piece of art, painted with a mechanical brush but as vivid and beautifully mesmerising as a human counterpart is capable of producing, perhaps even better. Electronic music continues to climb to the stratosphere and rewrite the limits of musical creation once again. Gorgeous music.
The Faex Has Decimated can be purchsed through Tympanik Audio’s Bandcamp page, for a reasonable fee or from most respectable music retailers. There is also a crowdfunding campaign for a vinyl release of the album so go support that if you like this. Their first album Mings Feaner is available via Sending Orbs webstore and most respectable retailers too.
There isn’t actually a Facebook or social media page for Legiac, so the next best thing was to trace its collaborators social media pages instead. That only yielded one result as Cor Bolten is rather difficult to track down going under numerous aliases. So have Funckarma instead: https://www.facebook.com/Funckarma?fref=ts