Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chocolat - Tss Tss (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

The second album for French Canadian band Chocolat, cryptically or jokingly called "Tss Tss", was released end of October this year via Montreal-based record label Grosse Boîte, and it's an utterly enjoyable affair throughout. Chocolat has slowly disengaged itself from their unique garage punk sound (they toured with Ty Segall after all) to get closer to psych rock, and even flirting with prog here and there, while keeping their knack for direct melodies and powerful musicianship, this without pretentiousness or sterile virtuosity. Don't stop at their funny name and rather cheesy album cover, that record is a rock'n roll gem, and I might say this album counts as one of my most ecstatic discovery since "Elephants At The Door" by Italian duo Dumbo Gets Mad.

Don't hesitate to dig up their earlier album "Piano élégant" (2008), dirtier, more like some disjointed blues rock, with it's share of excellent hooks and melodies, as well as their first seven tracks ep, simply called "EP" (2007), even dirtier, in the face, closer to garage punk it is.

And you can even go further by looking for Chocolat's frontman solo albums. The guy's name is Jimmy Hunt, and despite his name, and just like in Chocolat's case, near all his songs are sung in French. I barely remember hearing French sounding as rock'n roll as this, somewhere between Jacques Dutronc at its wildest and a less mannered The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser. Jimmy Hunt's albums are released by Grosse Boîte as well. Check out his bandcamp page.

Oh, and you can already stream Chocolat's album down here, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jenny Hval & Susanna - I Have Walked This Body AUDIO

Two of Norway's, and anywhere else's, most unique voices, Jenny Hval and Susanna Wallumrød (aka Susanna, with or without The Magical Orchestra), composed the music and wrote the lyrics for a collaborative album, "Meshes of Voices", which will be issued mid-August 2014 on SusannaSonata.

The first extract from the upcoming album proposed here, "I Have Walked This Body", is surprisingly ethereal and even noisy at times. It starts with layers of harmonium drones, which take some tremendously roaring foreground as Jenny's and Susanna's voices literally mesh for a deep near spiritual and spooky experience. A fine introduction to a very promising album.

You can stream "I Have Walked This Body" below.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Liars <> FOCUS

Liars could pretty much be considered one of the most interesting, adventurous and consistent bands from the early 2000s until now, they also own one of the most recognizable sound around. Liars could somehow be described as Animal Collective's nemesis because just like those guys Liars changes musical direction for each new release, to the point that this band has always been very difficult to categorize and box into whatever musical genre. This could also be one of the main reasons why Liars don't get much beyond a cult status, only the most open-minded fans are able to follow up to the band ever-changing artistic choices and orientation. Besides, and just like Avey Tare and co, their untamed and playful studio performance during the recording of each of their album is palatable. But contrary to the joyous jamborees that characterize most of Animal Collective's outputs, Liars' unique aesthetic approach veers towards way darker corners and more violent territories.

Liars was founded in 2000. Its genesis can be traced in Los Angeles where Australian Cal Arts student Angus Andrew met microbiology student Aaron Hemphill in a record store. Both were collaborating on four-track recordings until Angus completed school and they relocated to New York. After responding to an ad, bassist Pat Noecker and drummer Ron Albertson joined and this was the first band's line-up, which later recorded the impressive debut "They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top" in 2001. Some different ideas on creative methods led to the departure of the rhythm section, Angus' old friend Julian Gross arrived, and Liars' new line-up never changed since then. They further signed to London record label Mute, and released their radically different second album "They Were Wrong, So We Drowned" in 2004.
The rest is history.

Let's explore Liars' discography.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

30,000 Pageviews

Thank you to all visitors, even the lost ones who were wondering "what the fuck is this shit all about?"
Now some more feedbacks and comments would be fine,
don't be shy.

Click on the pic and you can go like Spookrijder's facebook page.

Here's the Top Ten pageviews by Countries with a little map.

1. United States 8883
2. Denmark 2585
3. United Kingdom 2010
4. France 1857
5. Belgium 1775
6. Germany 1572
7. Canada 812
8. Australia 357
9. Russia 318
10. Netherlands 276

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

St. Vincent <> FOCUS

St. Vincent aka Annie Clark is pretty hip these days.
As a multi-instrumentalist, she began her career as a member of the psych/prog choral rock band The Polyphonic Spree and was also part of cult singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens' touring band before spreading out her wings as a solo artist with the one-woman band St. Vincent in 2006. Annie Clark took her mysteriously odd moniker from a Nick Cave song, which references the hospital where Dylan Thomas died.

One of the most original singer/songwriters, and one of the most inventive guitarists, of the last decade, Annie Clark is also blessed with a beautiful, bright, clear and articulate voice, without being flashy or utterly virtuosic. It remains tender and charming in its humility, even when the music reaches its rowdiest peaks. St. Vincent has been compared to many of her pairs, past or present, while her music and vocal performances are less mannered and dramatic than My Brightest Diamond, several light-years more original and idiosyncratic than Florence and The Machine and more talented than the already pretty gifted Bat For Lashes, to name a few of her contemporaries. Besides, there are more brilliant ideas in one of the best St. Vincent's song than in the near entire discography of Kate Bush and Tori Amos together, both names, mostly the former, being far too often namedropped when another female artist appears with an individualistic voice, singular song structures and colorfully textured arrangement. Artists as different as Julia Holter or Courtney Love, and even, hum, Lady Gaga, have been unimaginatively compared to la Bush. But let's not digress further, let's better discover St. Vincent's discography.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sunn O))) & Ulver - Terrestrials (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

The versatile emperor of doom metal drone Sunn O))) collaborated with the even more diversified Norwegian experimental black metal ambient neoclassical and so on combo Ulver on this three-track album "Terrestrials" that was released early 2014 by Southern Lord. It was initially conceived between 2008 and 2012, and one can wonder why this rather short full length (around 35 minutes) took so long to see the dark of night.

Strings, horns, drums, organs and even Fender Rhodes, on the magnificent, elegiac and surprisingly delightful "Eternal Return", have been added here and there to the now highly recognizable chthonian near impenetrable drones created by Sunn O)))'s guitars and bass of Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson. Nothing new for all the collaborators involved in this project but an interesting collective work and an ultimately gratifying sonic journey anyways.

Wovenhand - Refractory Obdurate (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

David Eugene Edwards is untameable. Since his tormented God-fearing incantations with the now legendary punkish alt-country-folk 16 Horsepower in the mid-90s until this last and seventh full length album by Wovenhand (also spelled as Woven Hand), "Refractory Obdurate", presented here, Edwards seems to get even fiercer with age. Through time, Wovenhand's music became heavier and heavier, a tendency which was very noticeable on their last album, "The Laughing Stalk", in 2012. That album was produced by Alexander Hacke, of Einstürzende Neubauten's fame, now in the re-formed, with Edwards in the line-up, Crime & The City Solution. In the meantime, Wovenhand left Glitterhouse Records to join the more hardcore punk oriented Deathwish, Inc., where Converge and Deafheaven are the most prestigious current artists, a move that confirms Wovenhand's musically more aggressive orientation.

On a side note, the song "Good Shepherd" sounds surprisingly like a denser and beefed up Echo &The Bunnymen's.

"Refractory Obdurate" is without the shadow of a doubt the heaviest record in Wovenhand's already consequent discography, it is full of blood and fury, a particularly intense and spooky listening experience. Dive head first into this powerful record below.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fennesz - Bécs (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

13 years after Austrian abstract electronic and guitarist Christian Fennesz delivered the lush and colorful little masterpiece "Endless Summer", the musician and composer is back to the Vienna-founded groundbreaking record label Editions Mego for its conceptual follow-up, mysteriously named "Bécs". Fennesz' sixth solo album was released in April 2014 and offers some surprisingly abrasive, moody but moving soundscapes. Fennesz proves with "Bécs" that he's still one of the main masters of the genre. He stands head and shoulders above younger lads like Tim Hecker or Ben Frost thanks to his compositional skills and his attention to details, those with the focus, the vision and the musical eloquence of a poet.

Stream the album below and be enthralled.

Friday, May 23, 2014


This quartet from Brisbane, Australia, came up with their sophomore effort April 2014 almost two years after their already brutal and punishing debut, "Farewell All Joy". This time, IDYLLS offers an extension on their smashing aesthetic with the addition of a screaming saxophone on most of those ten tracks. That band proposes a remarkably relentless and ferocious mix of mathcore, hardcore punk, sludge metal and powerviolence with blast beats, tribal drums, earsplitting guitars, massive bass and soaked-in-wrath vocals. It will be hard to find a more intense album this year, somewhere between The Jesus Lizard under amphetamine and an even rawer Converge. By the way, the latter mentioned band's guitarist, Kurt Ballou, is a.o. responsible for the bright, crisp, detailed although gigantic earth-shattering sound production.

The band focuses mostly on short but very rich and intricate songs, however the ambitious opener "Lied To" licks the seven-minute mark and it doesn't lose in intensity, fascination and, yeah, pleasure throughout.

For those who remember, this album sounds sometimes like John Zorn's Painkiller would be back from hell all covered in sulfur and hatred.

Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended.

Please stream this harrowing thing below at your own peril. And then download it for frack's sake!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Juana Molina <> FOCUS

Juana Molina is one of the reason I got back to this blog in the first place. It took her a little less than 5 years to come back with a new album, "Wed 21", and I wasn't willing to let it pass by me in any case. But still, here we are, seven months after its release, so I thought that while Juana is starting her European tour it is time for a focus on this very unique, close to genius, imaginative gentle-lady of a singer-songwriter and composer from Argentina.

First off, Juana Molina is near exclusively singing in her native Rioplatense Spanish, and if she pays attention to her lyrics, it doesn't really matter if one doesn't understand a word of Spanish. She doesn't mind neither as she was herself from a very young age immersed into any kind of music her parents were listening to, mostly in English : classical (Schubert, Ravel), bossanova (Gilberto Gil, Antonio Jobim), jazz (Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins), rock (The Beatles, Deep Purple, King Crimson), whatever they saw enjoyable, therefore she has a similar approach to near anyone non-English speakers towards songs sung in English, the lyrics are somehow secondary and it doesn't hinder the listening pleasure. As Juana Molina emphasized herself during a recent interview, not understanding or not paying too much attention to lyrics allows the listener to interpret the words the way he or she feels. Oddly enough, Juana's dad was some prominent tango singer, Horacio Molina, and even though he taught her guitar from the age of six, there is no tango influences in Juana Molina's music. On the other side, she spent many summers in a house her family shared with two major artists of Brazilian music, poet and composer Vinicius de Moraes and bossanova star Chico Buarque. These guys, added to what mom and dad were musically enjoying, had a far stronger impact on Juana Molina's art than anything Argentinian, except for native instruments, her dad included.

Juana Molina's biography would deserve a whole book. For example her command of French is pretty good. I had the advantage to witness it for myself, at one of her gigs here in Brussels where she was introducing and/or commenting on her songs or technical failures with much humor and in close to perfect French. Well, her family spent years in exile in Paris following a military coup in Argentina to start with. Should I mention her extremely successful and popular TV comedic acting career in Argentina in the late 80s/early 90s? I just did. From the start, her first call has always been music; a difficult pregnancy made her get back to her initial vocation. But if you're curious, just find out more for yourself. This blog is focused on music and music is what we'll talk about if you don't mind.

So let's dive into Juana Molina's fascinating discography :

Juana Molina - Wed 21 (2013) REVIEW

Five years has passed since the release of "Un Dia" in 2008 and Juana Molina confessed in a recent interview that she barely knows what she actually did in the meantime. What we do know however is that she toured with David Byrne and Feist, she worked with the likes of Vetiver and Vashti Bunyan and she was involved with the Belgian record label Crammed Discs collective project Congotronics vs Rockers. She also toured Europe and Japan within the framework of this project : 20 musicians on the scene including Konono N°1, Kasai Allstars, Deerhoof, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Skeletons and even Belgian funny band Hoquets for the Brussels gig (of which Juana Molina was the indisputable and charming MC). She also subsequently signed a record deal with Crammed Discs, which took over her last five records onto their catalogue from Domino.
Oh, and she bought an electric guitar : a Gibson SG.

Juana Molina - Un Dia (2008) REVIEW

Juana Molina's underground fame was growing exponentially by the time she released her fifth album, "Un Dia", via Domino Recordings. She saw her song "Salvese Quien Pueda" from "Tres Cosas" remixed by Four Tet in 2005 and she added vocals on The Chemical Brothers's track "Seal" in 2007. Maybe both collaborations somehow gave her the desire to experiment deeper into multi-layered electronics and explore further into her genetic knack for tribal percussion and grooves, in any case "Un Dia" represents Juana Molina's boldest creation to date, at the same time more abstract, more hypnotic, more extrovert and paradoxically more danceable than any of her previous stuff. The singer/songwriter appellation makes no sense anymore, Molina has decided to dive into sounds like some alchemist shaman and the result is one long trip into the realm of the sonically unknown, she keeps pushing musical boundaries.

Alejandro Franov is gone, Juana Molina is near completely on her own with this one; his influence remains audible but his physical absence seems to unleash Juana's huge imagination to the furthest. "Un Dia" is also her most intuitive, spontaneous yet most 'composed' and most adventurous album so far. There is that impression that while recording this work Juana felt as free as a kid left alone in a studio without any boring adult to refrain her to do whatever she likes : she is something like Animal Collective all by herself. Voice, keys, electronics, percussion, guitars are increasingly turning into each other to the point that it doesn't matter anymore who or what does what, each sound could come from any source to form a fantastic organic whole which I honestly haven't heard since Supersilent's masterpieces "5" (2001) and "6" (2003).

Juana Molina - Son (2006) REVIEW

We really barely listen to birds, just like the meandering prettiness of Juana Molina's music could leave us rather impassive as listeners while just as for birds, Molina's music deserves closer attention. Furthermore, there is something in her music which recalls bossanova while absolutely not sounding like it, but just like for bossanova, one tends to relegate such music for background purposes. Juana Molina seems to be more and more aware of this somewhat established fact. With her fourth album, simply called "Son", which can equally be translated by 'they are' and 'tune', Juana Molina has produced a recording which seems to summarize the more sonic experimentation of "Segundo" with the more melodic, singer/songwriting emphasis of "Tres Cosas" while extending significantly her sound palette. Besides, if most of the songs get closer to some pop format, almost danceable at times,  the arrangement become proportionally more disorienting, strange, unearthly, between a dream and a nightmare, hence more colorful, multi-layered and richer, the result being that the music proposed here wouldn't stand in the background very long. Juana Molina wishes to call the would-be listeners out.

Juana Molina & Alejandro Franov - AooB (2003) REVIEW

This peculiar album represents more of a side project for Juana Molina and Alejandro Franov, the man whose influence and impact on Juana Molina's near trilogy, which are "Segundo", "Tres Cosas" and "Son", can not be underestimated. (The sentence 'Some of my keyboard sounds were created by Franov' can be found on those mentioned records liner notes.) Alejandro Franov is one of the most important artists of the Argentinian musical underground, a total multi-instrumentalist whose huge curiosity led him to travel all over the world in search for sounds, from any ethnic instrument, let it be a mbira (African thumb-piano) or an Indian sitar or some rare corner of the world percussion device, but also from the very natural environment he would be part of : field recordings are used throughout Franov's already consequent discography, about a dozen albums since the end of the 90s. One of his album can be found on the German experimental label Staubgold, most of the others on the Japanese label Nature Bliss (a very apt name concerning Franov).

As a sound explorer, the very versatile Argentinian is also using electronics in a very idiosyncratic way, disorienting, atonal, dissonant, almost living a life on its own. A track like "Mantra Del Bicho Feo", on Molina's "Segundo", is a perfect example, Franov's soundwaves can be found all over the place, mainly on the bridge of the song. Alejandro Franov sometimes adds some particularly suave and melancholic vocals here and there, somewhere between Caetano Veloso and Robert Wyatt. Last but not least, he is also a pretty skilled pianist, his last album is simply called "Piano Solo" (There are four tracks to stream on the label bandcamp page); he proposes elegant, beautiful and dreamy vignettes inspired by a sacred Argentinian mountain called Piltriquitron.

Juana Molina - Tres Cosas (2002) REVIEW

Juana Molina's third album "Tres Cosas" focuses more on melodies and singer/songwriting than on abstract electronic soundscapes and polyrhythmic percussion. Molina's vocals are more upfront, she sounds more confident even though it remains closer to whispers than full-throat singing for the best part. The instrumentation is generally more sober, almost anemic at times, and the prominence is given to the acoustic guitar, which Molina plays with much skills and delicacy. Therefore "Tres Cosas" could be more aptly filed into folk music than its predecessor if it wasn't for the idiosyncratic take favored by the artist. Electronic oddities are still present throughout the album, but they are most of the time relegated to the background with some emergence here and there, most notably on songs like the unearthly "Yo Se Que" with its lightly mindnumbing electronic hum of an intro soon accompanied by a tiptoed percussive pulse and Juana's apathetic vocals. Despite its low key atmosphere, this song keeps fascinating all along. The surreal quasi instrumental "Filter Taps" is another electronically disturbed oddity on the album while the wordless "Uh!" with its whiplash sounding percussion and bumpy bass line represents one of the few rhythmic momentum here.

Juana Molina - Segundo (2000) REVIEW

Juana Molina relocated for a short while in Los Angeles and found her calling by the turn of the century with her second album, the aptly called "Segundo", issued by Bla Bla Discos in 2000 in Argentina, then Domino in the rest of the world, from the US to Europe, between 2002 and 2004. Gone are the electric guitars, bass and drums, Juana Molina delivered a very personal take on so-called folktronica for voice, acoustic guitar, electronics and percussion (mostly native instruments like the bombo legüero a.o.). The meeting with multi-instrumentalist and ethnic-ambient-electronic composer Alejandro Franov seems to be crucial to Juana's new aesthetics. Most of the somewhat alien and native percussion sounds found on the album have been created and/or sampled by Franov, this for the decor, the composition are almost completely Juana's creation, with some guests here and there.

Juana Molina - Rara (1996) REVIEW

Our Lady from Rio Plata started her musical career in 1996 with a modest collection of songs on "Rara", which was released in 1996 by MCA Argentina. This album could surprise anyone even slightly familiar with Juana Molina's later work as it contains mostly guitar-oriented 'rock' songs akin to some more muscular, tighter and funkier The Sundays without reverbs and rather more complex structures. A quite solid if not particularly original album full of fine melodies, clever hooks and some efficient riffs produced by one of the biggest names in Latin rock and pop music, Gustavo Santaolalla, the guy responsible for the film soundtracks of "Brokeback Mountain" and "Babel", among others. Juana Molina has already found her voice, hum, vocally, straight-forward, throaty, a bit detached and velvety, somewhere between Astrid Gilberto and Suzanne Vega. One song could show where Juana Molina is slowly heading, and that's "Busca Bien Y No Molestes", a beautiful, soft, melancholic thing with subtle percussion and tasteful violin and cello, the arrangement are pretty worked out and somewhat shows her further ambition. However, no one was prepared to what came next.

6 out of 10

Monday, May 5, 2014

Miasm - The Dark Roads (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

Utah-based musician and sound sculpture wizard Jeremiah Savage has created throughout the years a whole bunch of virtual sound libraries, which contain hundreds of materials shaped into new and playable instruments, the last one being KINETIC METAL.

Jeremiah is also a songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist and a poet. Miasm is his latest musical project, "The Dark Roads" being its debut full-length, where our sound artist indulges in his more personal musical tastes all along the nine rather long tracks which compose the album. The songs proposed in this collection defy categorization and definition. They can hardly be called 'songs' in its traditional meaning, they are more like exploration of emotions and thoughts, myths and melancholy, "through progressing music structures that evolve with ideas. Structures that are familiar, like a broken memory or a remembered dream." (Quoted from the album's liner notes) "The Dark Roads" is indeed a world inside, an eerie, atmospheric and, as the title suggests, a dark album whose sound palette is rather close to a very peculiar mix of gothic, post-metal, cold wave, shoegaze and even some industrial elements, maybe thanks to the above mentioned KINETIC METAL library. Despite Jeremiah Savage's sound sculpture works, all songs here give much place to soft and hazy vocals, they are sometimes almost whispered, as well as melodic, here dreamy, there more hard-rocking, guitars, accompanied by a low meandering bass and glacier-speed drumming. The whole thing made me sporadically think of some sleepy The Cure or apathetic The Church. A pretty interesting, immersive, emotional and indeed spooky musical experience which you can discover, listen and download on Miasm's bandcamp or down here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boyfrndz - Breeder (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

Austin, Texas, is not only Psych Fest (impressive line-up once again this year), it's also the birthplace of many essential psychedelic and post-hardcore bands from legendary 13th Floor Elevators to The Black Angels and White Denim through the crucial Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard without forgetting post-rockers Explosions in the Sky and many more. Boyfrndz could be added to this extensive list thanks to their sophomore album "Breeder", via Brutal Panda Records, which dropped this month almost two years after their debut "All Day Pass". If their first album offered some pretty dense and powerful tracks, somewhere between post-hardcore and math rock, the whole sounded quite monotonous, the uniform sound palette and the shy subdued vocals being its main drawbacks.

Boyfrndz's second effort represents a hell of a giant step, not only does the band improve on those mentioned downsides with a more colorful production and stronger vocals, they are further expanding their hypnotic and intricate sound with memorable hooks and some surprisingly emotional deliveries. Math rock doesn't have to be drowned by numbers. It would however be unfair to box Boyfrndz in one musical genre for sure, they are actually rather difficult to label, or let's imagine a more concise and near devoid of guitar solos Mars Volta or a less insanely neurotic Blood Brothers... or maybe let's not imagine anything at all and just listen to "Breeder".

Boyfrndz could very much become the next big thing, this album is epic and anthemic at times, open-eared Muse's fans could enjoy them, if they are not afraid to see their skirts lift up for awhile. Saying this, I'm a little afraid they could become emphatic-for-the-sake-of-being-emphatic, there are some hints here and there on "Breeder", like their fellow city folks ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead or, yes, Muse, or even, no, Yes (the shadow of Jon Anderson has been spotted in some corners), so let's discover them right now : spooking stream this thing below.

Elysian Fields - For House Cats And Sea Fans (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

The enigmatic Elysian Fields hit it hard in 1996 with their moody late-night atmospheric album "Bleed Your Ceddar", which was signed on the now defunct Universal Music Group's parent Radioactive Records. Since then, Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow, the couple behind the band, fell into some kind of general oblivion while recording more albums mostly released by European labels. The band's mysterious discretion is all the more puzzling considering the general high quality of their now seven full length LPs and excellent live shows (Their March 31st Brussels concert at Le Botanique was sold out).

The oddly titled "For House Cats and Sea Fans" has been issued by French label Vicious Circle last February and it contains first an impressive list of guests. Besides mainstays like jazz pianist Ed Pastorini and drummer Mike Johnson (Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Beth Orton), one can find cats like jazz bassist James Genus (Dave Douglas, Michael Brecker, Chick Corea, a.o.), jazz drummer Ben Perowsky (from Dizzy Gillespie to Chris Speed), famous jazz keyboards player John Medeski, experimental artist J.G. Thirlwell of Foetus fame or even cult musician James Chance playing saxophone on "She Gets Down". Elysian Fields' Oren Bloedow is himself a pretty busy guitarist with several solo albums and multiple collaborations while Jennifer Charles appeared on "Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By" Lovage, some John Zorn's records and even guest appearances on two French singer/songwriter Jean-Louis Murat's albums. The cover painting of "For House Cats and Sea Fans" has been created by John Lurie, mostly known as composer and jazz maverick sax player for The Lounge Lizards. Namedropping is hard to avoid with such well surrounded chaps.

Now the music proposed by Elysian Fields remains rather unchanged throughout the years. On this last album they are indeed still delivering dark smoke-filled sometimes eerie but always stylish slightly jazzy dream rock, the focal point being the sensual almost lascivious voice of Jennifer Charles for sure but also the often original musical  arrangements which offer much variation in textures and colors from song to song while keeping the whole album homogeneous. This seventh opus could pretty much be one of their best albums with "Queen of the Meadow" in 2000 and "Bum Raps and Love Taps" in 2005. But enough blahblah, please stream "For House Cats and Sea Fans" below.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Eric Holm - Andøya (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

The debut full length LP for London-based American Eric Holm released by Bristol's Subtext this month is a mind shattering exploration of sounds created by fixing contact microphones to telegraph poles that connect the islands of Andøya, a northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago, situated about 300 kilometers inside the Arctic Circle. Eric Holm then mixed, edited and tailored his sound materials into a six-piece soundscape of desolation, solitude, coldness and total remoteness. The result is at times bordering on industrial music with unfathomable syncopated tribal beats as well as the darkest of ambient music with guts-shuddering low end frequencies. The magnificent album cover is a perfect illustration of this challenging and breathtaking album which reveals more and more details at each listen. A strangely natural yet unnatural experience.
Spook it for yourself below (The track "Åse" appears twice, sorry for this).

Source : FACT magazine

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

White Suns - Totem (2014) ALBUM STREAMING

New York trio White Suns' third album "Totem" was out March 14th on The Flenser, and the least I could say about it can be summarized in one word : relentless. Two guitars, drums and electronics for a successful yet earaching but ultimately galvanizing fusion of post-hardcore and noise. Still this music can't really be labelled noise rock, the structure of each tracks composing this cataclysmic album is closer to the wildest free improv, only it is indeed structured. However the guitars sonic palette remains close to no wave bands like early Sonic Youth, Pussy galore or later noise combos like Harry Pussy or Trumans Water, the vocals ferocity reminds me of Big Black or Scratch Acid, while the disjointed shattering metallic rattlings joined to various electronic tremors and hellish percussive stomps gather impressions left by bands like Wolf Eyes or Prurient. Despite those references, which are ultimately mine, not theirs, in a manner to situate this album, White Suns produced a more than interesting yet quite terrifying sonic journey. Not for the faint of heart though.
Stream this spooking thing below and tell me what you think of it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Julia Holter <> FOCUS

Once in awhile a musical miracle occurs and Julia Holter, a Los Angeles-based composer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, is one of them. August 2013 saw the release of her last album "Loud City Music" on Domino. She had already two full length albums under her belt, "Tragedy" (2011) and "Ekstasis" (2012) as well as a double tape EP, "Eating The Stars + Live on KDVS" (2006/2011) (click the links, sometimes it streams!) and a couple of CD-R where Julia is flirting with John Cage's music, "Cookbook" (2009), she's basically reading recipes on top of background noises and crackling  jazz music on vinyls, and with musique concrete/field recordings, "Celebration" (2010). Both incursions into so-called avant-garde music and modern composition shouldn't scare the common mortal, they show more where Julia Holter is coming from than where she's getting at. She also counts numerous collaborations with other musical artists, most notably bedroom pop one woman band Nite Jewel's Ramona Gonzalez and underground psychedelic folk icon Linda Perhacs, which second and last album, "The Soul of All Natural Things", was issued just a month ago, about 44 years after her first and brilliant "Parallelograms". One could say that Julia Holter's music is mixing and/or gathering all the above mentioned elements, John Cage, field recordings, modern composition, songwriting, pop and to a certain extend psychedelic music, a bit of free jazz even, for some very idiosyncratic, pretty unique and surprisingly accessible if not blissful results. Despite the ambition of her music, maybe one of the most striking side of it lies in its playfulness. Julia's music can be considered conceptual or cerebral, but it near never falls into pretentiousness, sterile intellectualism and self-seriousness, it remains spontaneous and, yes, pleasant, even in its most mind-shattering moments.

Let's explore those three pieces of work :

Julia Holter - Tragedy (2011) REVIEW

"Tragedy", Julia Holter's first album, is loosely inspired by one Euripides' play, and tragedy, "Hippolytus". If she interspersed portions of the original text into her lyrics - they were “positioned by an aural logic rather than in the chronological order”, informs the album booklet*, musically this record follows nothing but itself, and it goes in a variety of directions that defies the imagination. Still, the album contains an introduction, an interlude and a finale, just like in a tragedy, and Julia Holter shows this way and on the outside her undeniable respect for structures, which are also intrinsic to each song, yes song, on this near "mystical revelation" (Piero Scaruffi) of an album. Well, the structures on those songs ain't conventional for sure. But maybe one of the first most striking thing about this record is the variety of styles touched upon, each song being its own dimension and each song exploring several soundscapes, while still succeeding to create incredibly homogeneous songs and a miraculously consistent whole.

Julia Holter - Ekstasis (2012) REVIEW

After the groundbreaking first album "Tragedy" a small year earlier, Julia Holter released her second one "Ekstasis" on RVNG Intl. in 2012,  re-issued by Domino in 2013. Both full lengths have been recorded during the same period span of three years after the playful and minimalist (sonically close to Dominique A's "La Fossette") CD-R "Eating The Stars", but if "Tragedy" was loosely based on a concept (Euripides' Hippolytus), "Ekstasis" doesn't follows much else than the definition of its title, the ancient Greek word for ecstasy, which means to be or stand outside oneself. This second opus contains a collection of ten more personal songs, which covers different subjects and moods, while remaining once again rather consistent. And indeed, ekstasis there is, to a certain extend, throughout almost the entirety of this thing, and surely while listening to some of the most compelling songs in Julia Holter's as well as in anyone else's catalogue. This album benefits also from the addition of ex-Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti guitarist Cole M. Greif-Neill who mixed the whole thing and gave a brighter and cleaner sound to it than its predecessor. Julia's voice is way more prominent and we can really enjoy the extend of its beauty, even through different echoes and always tasty electronic effects. Furthermore, Julia Holter chose for more immediate song structures and quite conventional singing but if her compositions get closer to a pop format, with memorable melodies and even some further extended reoccurring rhythm patterns, at times reminding more adventurous chillwave stuff, they stay far from being called pop songs, i.e. intuitive experimentations, unorthodox instrumentation and unexpected developments still prevail and keep them thrilling (thrillwave?).

Julia Holter - Loud City Song (2013) REVIEW

With her third album, "Loud City Song", issued by Domino in August 2013, Julia Holter clearly shows one of her intentions in its very title with the word 'Song', in the singular : she is indeed focusing on songs more than ever before. The singular could give the idea that this record is to be apprehended as one long song made of nine segments or movements; the conceptual artist rears its head again after the less interrelated approach on the previous "Ekstasis". "Loud City Song" also exhibits some further aesthetic improvements compared to Julia's earlier, and brilliant, efforts. First, Julia Holter strongly improved on the album cover, both "Tragedy" (2011), that pale grey collage thing, and surely "Ekstasis" (2012), with its bleak, blurry, amateurish pic, like some carbon copy of a lost Cocteau Twins b-sides collection, were pretty lame and generic layout-wise, in my humble opinion. Second, she improved on the production and recording process, she eventually went out of her bedroom and entered a studio with a bunch of musicians and a co-producer (ex-Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti guitarist Cole M. Greif-Neill), it gives "Loud City Song" a warmer, more organic and expansive touch (even though both home-recorded "Tragedy" and "Ekstasis" already sounded remarkably refined).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Agnes Obel - Aventine (2013) REVIEW

Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel released her second album "Aventine" in September 2013 via Belgian label Play It Again Sam. Belgian blogger/procrastinator Spook releases his first review after more than two years near total silence, except a post here and there. The link between both is Belgium, but it doesn't matter.

Agnes Obel's first album "Philharmonics", also issued by Play It Again Sam, was issued in 2010 and it showed a pretty talented new face on the European scene, if there is anything close to a European scene. This debut album gained a wide popular recognition mostly thanks to its excellent, stylish but also catchy single "Riverside". I liked the song, but I was a little underwhelmed by her cover of John Cale's "Close Watch", and my interest for the lady stopped there. It was obviously a mistake. "Philharmonics" contains its share of some of the most exquisite chamber pop pearls I've heard in a long time, because pop music it is, despite the instrumentation, violin, cello and piano for the main part, the spare arrangements and the obvious influences of French composers like Erik Satie and Claude Debussy, for instance. Agnes Obel is writing melodic songs with hooks and memorable refrains, the song "Riverside" being a perfect example. One of the main artistic successes of "Philharmonics" lies in the brilliant balance between both music worlds. Now my main reserve concerning this album remains after dozens of listens its near dry, if not stern (just like Obel's face on the album cover), certainly polite sound production. Agnes Obel frigid, though adequate, vocal deliveries, still leaves me sometimes on the fence, uninvolved, and rather cold. Something especially felt on the above mentioned "Close Watch".
"Aventine" is a close but relatively different affair.