Dirty Scarab

Sometimes, some musicians are enigmatic, not because they don’t want to be found, but building a mystery behind the incredible skill and production that goes into making memorable music compositions, creates an allure that music fans flock to. One of the most high profile cases of this was the mystery surrounding electronic producer Burial, who for years was a myth, aside from his untouchable production abilities and stunning musical invocations because he kept himself hidden from the public. But the second he pulled back the curtain, the hype began to fade. Talents never die, but enigmas certainly can. Dirty Scarab is no exception. Prior to writing this piece, there is next to no social media presence nor a website for this under-the-radar producer, but details did eventually emerge with a little further digging. Dirty Scarab is the brainchild of Ben Youngs, a Leicester man who currently resides stateside, that specialises in remixes and soundtracks, accumulating a wealth of independent movie credits and more impressively, Trent Reznor-endorsed Nine Inch Nail remixes. Such as his talent for excelling in sheer breadth of production, his only album, 2009’s First Stint, contains a playroom of eclectronic sights, sounds and sensations, to sate whatever aural desires your state of mind decides. Naturally, a single song doesn’t speak for this brilliant artist’s entire creative repertoire, but it can showcase an aspect that they are capable of and nothing else says blackened mechanical wasteland like The Brooding. Setting forth on a high-impact hip-hop pace, booms of bass nestle under the encroaching menace and what sounds like robotic gurgling. The danger then engulfs you and a blasting of pained sirens and rusted robotic limbs edging closer, with the padding of a deep rumbling bass wall is incredibly unsettling. Everything screams foreboding, but there’s a delicate light of hope in a small riff of bright, graceful synth that in its two appearances, banishes that intense darkness and more than completes this track. No wonder Ben Youngs is proficient in soundtrack work, such well-realised and crafted atmosphere could cradle a compelling visual scenario with absolute ease. Though I have taken aback the cover over Dirty Scarab’s persona, ending an albeit brief puzzle, his versatility and adeptness behind the production desk heighten his credentials as a sterling young electronic producer, as much as a social media face figure equivalent.

Dirty Scarab’s work can’t be traced on the usual modes of music discovery such as Bandcamp, but First Stint is available completely for free, with the option to donate for his work on Jamendo or you can find him on CDBaby and support him that way. Of course, his music can be found be on most respectable music retailers too.

http://www.last.fm/music/Dirty+Scarab

P.S. Eclectronic is a term I’ve decided to use, to give to artists that can make or excel in producing more than one kind of electronic music.

Ice Cream Cathedral

It’s very rare that band names completely nail the sound of the music they make. After all, one of the best practices is to make a band name that entices a potential audience in, but still reflect in some respect the vision of the sounds they make, that will last their lifespan. Some bands do it spectacularly, some bands do it to create a sense of mystery around them, some bands do it mostly to catch your attention, while others… simply don’t try. I’m not going to go into semantics here, as there are plenty of cases for all of these camps, some which may form the basis of an article for the future even, but for now we turn our attention to the antics of Danish synthpop outfit Ice Cream Cathedral and what lurks beneath their exciting moniker. You can picture it. A pristine monument of textures and swirls, chilled and tranquil yet with a grandiose presence that takes your breath away. While this is merely a fantasy, the reality is none too different. Formed in Copenhagen in 2011, the dream state of luscious, sweet but not saccharine pop movements has taken hold of those willing to succumb to the sheer beauty of this music created.  Part of the charm lies in the timelessness of the instrumentation, the satisfying plonks, clicks, warm throbs and bass from analogue synthesisers, married with a simple but quietened drums and a soulful 60’s vocal delivery, all unite to form an abstract, space-travelling gem from yesteryear, yet taken from five minutes in the past. Amber Sail, taken from 2013’s The Drowsy Kingdom, taps into this golden formula, a sunshine glazed stroll of jaunty but bright keyboards and smoky ambience, with the echoes of female dulcet tones front and center, guiding a settling path through the near five minute journey. A moment of time is given to showcase each layer of synthesiser and programming, building up a carousel of colours, revolving before your very eyes before letting the vocals take reign once more. The marvel of the ice cream cathedral visual has taken a change recently as most recent album Sudden Anatomy from last year is a darker, icier endeavour, but The Drowsy Kingdom is undeniably the dawn to Sudden Anatomy’s dusk. The points still stands however, that this collective from Denmark are crystallising a blissful realm of pop music, and adorning it into a spectacle that remains cold to the touch, but utterly delicious to consume.

The back catalogue of Ice Cream Cathedral remains torn between their own Bandcamp page and Riot Factory Records’ Bandcamp page, all you should know is if you enjoyed this, it’s all available for a very reasonable fee.

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

Squid Lid

Ah the circus. The frequent realm of a child’s revelry or a child’s nightmare. No matter how you look at it, there’s always been an air of the sinister attached to the big top and its residents. Showmen even capitalise on it, turning their carnivals into horror shows, making the sanguine pantomime of the unconscious a living, breathing reality. It then begs the question: How have so few married the theatrics of the circus with the wealth of music the world has to offer? Beats me, but in the reaches of Toronto’s music underworld, lies a project that not only showcases a performance spectacle, but drags it into a watery grave to electro-industrial, sewn together with as many electronic-tainted genres as tentacles can ensnare. Once referred to by founder James Zirco Fisher as the electro-industrial glow circus, the ideals of Squid Lid created a playful submersion into an ocean of light displays and marine life mutations, sinking deeper and deeper into darkness with every evolution. Third album Tackle Box from May of this year, is the most accomplished genus so far, adding female vocals into the mix where previously unease and uncertainty dominated the instrumental albums before it. The switch feels more natural as the project gains ground in underground circles, and production values clamber higher with it. Every song of Squid Lid has always had its own identity, so it’s always difficult to get a full complete picture of the vast array of sounds that this outfit is capable of creating. Shark Club, from Tackle Box has been honed for dancefloors, percussion and bass exploding with every beat, designed with a tribe in mind and synths twisting and warping into snarling beasts, or into haunting stabs, hovering above the party below. For someone who has followed this group for a few years, the escalation of detail and devotion to realising this new album is jaw-dropping. Squid Lid are truly a cult sensation, an experience that has to be seen to be believed, contained within such a diverse, delectable, darker side of electronic music, that musicians and artists alike have no hope of replicating.

Tackle Box, and its older counterparts 2009’s Steam Powered Submarine and 2012’s Crypto Zoo are all available from Squid Lid’s Bandcamp page, all from a very respectable price.

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

Amusement Parks On Fire

To you, what does the sound of amusement parks on fire even sound like? I imagine some sort of combination of carousel or the music associated with such melting to the ground, backed by a choir of patrons screaming for their lives. If you’re from the UK, public opinion on this subject could be touchy, given the recent controversy surrounding Alton Towers safety practices. The band however, hailing from Nottingham, imagine that visage a whole lot differently. Straddling the ground between some beautiful yet tragic classical pieces and indie pop, often backed by an inescapable wall of distortion and sound, the 2005 self-titled debut was the triumph of a 20 year old Michael Ferrick, before evolving his solo vision into a buccaneering four-piece band. Venosa takes a more punk approach, upbeat yet razor sharp and impactful, not to mention loud as all hell, but laden with melodies that latch to your eardrums and don’t let go. As with most noise pop bands, they can transform endless drones and guitar feedback into incredible works of art, and with the added melancholy of keys between songs, Amusement Parks On Fire achieve the art they strive for, immortalised as a blissful moment of utter destruction.

Their self-titled debut and sophomore effort from a year later, Out Of The Angels, can both be purchased from most respectable music retailers.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amusement-Parks-on-Fire/104051302965425?fref=ts

Rose Kemp

Once upon a time, there were two folk musicians called Maddy and Rick, and they were in one of the most famous British folk bands of all time: Steeleye Span. Maddy and Rick married and conceived two children, one of which her name was Rose. Rose too initially was a folk musician, but she began to move in a different direction. She abandoned the traditional instruments and strove for a more electric based sound.You could view this as a fairy tale of corruption, but on behalf of the sheer talent and eclecticism that Rose Kemp shows in her songwriting, things turned out for the better. From embracing the more acoustic-focused, less-tempered roots of her parents to full-blown Sabbath-esque doom and drone dirges, her recorded output has sunk more and more into the shadows, but there has always remained a quirky, offbeat likeability to her work. Whether it’s the stirring emotional connection with the strings, or the sudden peril from stabs of organ, or even the various voice projections, from siren calls, to sultry tones, there is a large world of sounds just waiting to be explored. Saturday Night from 2008’s Unholy Majesty is a slow-burning ballad concerning the escapades of weekend living, that bursts into life near the climax, but is gorgeous only based on a few chords of the electric guitar and Rose’s sultry yet vengeful sounding tones. She’s since disappeared from a recording schedule, but her talent has given another shining hope to the already rich singer-songwriter pool, a darker hope, yet an excellent one.

Many of her recorded albums, as well as the odd collaboration such as Jeremy Smoking Jacket, can be found here and there floating around the internet and most respectable music retailers

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rose-Kemp/103984439637649?fref=ts.

Beast Make Bomb

Very few bands I’ve listened to make me ask the question: Are they an indie band, or a punk band? Or even a very loud pop band? Actually Beast Make Bomb are the only band that’ve made me ask those questions. Defunct as of three years ago, the two guys and two gals responsible for this dose of sugar-charged, punk-injected indie pop hailing from four different cities in the States, were an underground sensation. Much of their output revolved around a fuzz-saturated guitar freight train, that could compare with many of garage rock’s greats, but they could also pen killer pop melodies, and even sweet but never saccharine ballads to showcase their multi-faceted abilities. Rough It Out, from free-to-download EP Sourpuss, is an upbeat rocket about failing to confess your love that has pace, a contagious chorus and searing hot guitar work to boot in just three and a half minutes that will leaving you smiling ear-to-ear. Beast Make Bomb could turn the struggles of teen life into a wonderland of positivity, punctuated with unforgettable melodies and the world, for what they didn’t know about this band, is worse off without them.

Sourpuss, as well as numerous other EPs and songs can be found on their Bandcamp page, either for a small fee or for nothing at all.

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

American Wrestlers

Chances are that you’ll probably have never heard of Manchester’s Working For A Nuclear Free City. So the name Gary McClure will mean even less to you if you haven’t. The gentleman in question is half responsible for the former name, and entirely responsible for the latter. What was successful in WFANFC was its air of nostalgia, invoked in its many distinct song styles, leaving behind an eclectic catalogue of killer songwriting, atmosphere and endearing little oddities that sounded like they could’ve been from many different time periods of history. American Wrestlers has a spirit which is very similar. Recorded on an eight-track and on his wife’s guitar and keyboard, Gary McClure has distilled the essence of WFANFC into a stripped back indie-pop masterpiece, that sounds like its been around since the 60’s, rather than April of this year. The soulful, heartfelt There’s No One Crying Over Me Either, with its catchy keyboard hook, dated but fitting drum machine beat and soaring guitar solo is a sure fire contender to be one of my favourite songs released this year and the hype surrounding the self-titled album is rightful to propel its status as one of the best releases likely to be out this year. One of the best examples of timelessness currently going.

American Wrestlers’ debut album can be purchased through Fat Possum Records’ website, or via most respectable music retailers.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Wrestlers/708356615903007?fref=ts