Tag Archives: music

Sounds of the Underground #39

Let’s bring out some new sounds from the underground, with Rive, Book of Sand, Woman is the Earth and Illyria. Check these amazing records out please.

Rive – Sorg
Self released

source: bandcamp

Imagine being in one of the most desolate places on this earth, in a windswept, frozen mining colony on the island of Svalbard. What music would come out of that? Well, now we know with this release by Rive from Norway. I was not convinced that this depresssed black metal band was actually from Svalbard, but Danthor Wildcrow told me that this was the case. The songs were made there, in the far north where only ice and polar bears can be found.

‘Sorg’ is not a complex record, but it speaks of weariness and being alone. It’s an eerie, subtle recording, leaving room for streaks of beauty and sunlight in its otherwise hazy, white sound. The drums sound a bit electronic and they hold a lulling effect, which very well adds to the vast stretched out effect the music seems to evoke. Imagine the early polar travellers, stranded and hoping for the ice to melt. The hopelessness and vast emptiness they must have felt is embrased by the music. The vocals are howls, getting lost in the gale of distorted sound with minimal riff work. This is the soundtrack of the mining colony of Sveagruva, which is only part of the year inhabited. That makes the song melancholic, as must be the temporary residents of the town. It’s a record full of yearning. Perhaps sonically not laced with complexity, but definitely captivating in its raw beauty and picturesque beauty.

Book of Sand – Occult Anarchist Propaganda
Mouthbreather Records

source: Blackmetalandbrews.com

Let me start with the basics, Black metal usually is pretty right wing, but Book of Sand really is on the veganism, feminism, anarchism and other lefty-isms with their words. The band from Minneapolis has been around since 2009 and may be one of those bands you find hard to really say much about. They’ve been out there, splitting opinions in the black metal world for a long time now. The band has had a lot of unorthodox releases, which to the purists is an offence and an outrage. Sole band member dcrf must have an interesting sense of humor. Then there’s this release.

I sometimes find myself puzzled by what black metal can sound like, but this record is like the absolute essence of that sound. Stripped of any nuances, grooves or other luxurious elements, this is rip-roaring raw black metal. It’s that place where guitars are dissonant cuts and sweeps, blending together with the bass into a droning, static unity. The tortured screams are in the thicket of noise, where constant blast beats reign. It’s a bit like the olden days of black metal, so pure and direct. Here and there the instrumental side of Book of Sand can be heared though, how could it not be. This takes you back to the early days of Emperor and their ilk. Which is cool, no?

Woman Is The Earth – Torch of our Final Night
Init Records

source: bandcamp

Well, sometimes you just stumble on the most awesome things. One of those is the band Woman is the Earth form Black Hills in South Dakota, a remote location which apparently fosters a unique atmosphere in sound and words. The band draws their inspiration from  “inspired by the earth being a powerful creator and provider and man being the one who takes from it and returns to it” according to an interview. There is something very ‘gaia’ in their sound for sure, on this fourth full length of the Americans. I had a listen and couldn’t stop doing so for a while.

The tranquility you feel when the record starts is that evoked by gentle guitar play. It’s warming you untill the sound explodes out, like the sun finally climbing over a hill in the early morning and shooting its beams out. Though the fierce vocals are clearly linking this band to the black metal genre, the music is often warm and nearly jubilant during the lovely passages on a track like ‘Brother in Black Smoke’. There’s a lot of borrowed riffs from postrock in the music, which makes it easy comparing these guys to Wildernessking or Wolves in the Throne Room (for obvious, Cascadian reasons). Take also the melancholic guitar play on ‘Broken Hands’. There’s something truly unique about this sound,  every song has its unique embrace. I can not stop listening to this.

Illyria – Illyria
Self Released

source: bandcamp

Every now and then a band is for some reason unsigned. Thus it is with Illyria, the band released a debut that can’t be denied though.  The Australians aim to blend postrock and black metal, which obviously puts them somewhere out there with Alcest, Deafheaven and other post BM bands. The band name of the Perth group might be derived from ancient times, the name Illyria would refer to a region roughly encompassing a part of former Yugoslavia on its coast. Never fully a nation, the concept has intrigued artists through the ages from Shakespeare on to these guys.

The sound of this band therefor lacks a lot of the typical black metal attributes, embracing more that flowing postrock sound in a more upbeat and pleasant form. Listening to this record makes me realize that blackgaze is a thing now, its an undeniably new genre. Devoid of the traditional characteristics, only atmosphere, vocals and the rare passages offer an inkling of its roots. There’s no feeling of hype or trend to the sound of the group, it’s a mesmerizing completeness that their sound attains. The only dischord in the sometimes even classical sounding music may be the vocals, which never seem out of place at all though.

That crisp sound of Vinyl

I like records. That may be an understatement. I don have as many as I would like to though, but I only have vinyl these days. Many has been told about vinyl and its magical quality, I just want to tell you abou the moment my love affair with it started.

My parents got rid of a ton of their records after the CD-player was launched. The vinyl record was of the past, a relic of a bygone age apparently. At some point I started discovering those and listening to classics like Pink Floyd, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and a load of David Bowie.

There’s something about putting a bit of vinyl on the record player. It demands care, attention and you’ll be keeping an eye on things, because before you know the record is over. I loved listening to those old recors with their crispy start-up sounds. It was great.

I started buying cd’s when I was 14 I suppose, after I was confronted with the might that was Metallica. Man, I was instantly hooked. I went to the record show and bought myself the Ozzy Osbourne‘s ‘Ozzmosis’, De Heideroosjes‘ ‘Schizo’ and Iron Maiden‘s ‘Virtual XI’. So yeah, my first Maiden was not with Bruce Dickinson strangely, but Blaze Bailey. Weird… I was captivated by these bands and I would often return to this shop in Veghel to check out more.

A few weeks later I found ‘Out Of The Silent Planet’. It was some sort of limited edition digipack single, but there was also the Vinyl. Wow, Vinyl… and a picture disc at that. The imagery of Iron Maiden had immediately captured my attention, it looked futuristic, horrible and awesome. I took the CD home, thinking that was smart. I didn’t have a record player.

I couldn’t sleep that night, I needed to have the vinyl. It was torture, what if someone else bought this special edition? What would I do then? I went back as soon as I could and purchased that record. That was my first one.

Later followed more and ofcourse a record player. Now, It’s vinyl all the way baby. I can’t tell you why. Was it the bigger pictures, the captivating sound or the ritual of playing them? It’s a vinyl thing, you’ll probably never understand… It’s all about holding some actual music in your hands, physically with its analogue workings. It also explains my loyalty to Maiden I suppose…

Music is less/more than/not Art

Music should never start calling itself art. Why so you may wonder. Well, music is an artform quite seperate from others, rarely recognized as one, always considered less and lowly.

Schopenhauer liked to give music a specificly different position within the arts, because it enabled one to get closest to the world and reveals the ‘in itself’ of it. It does that only if the music is a pure music. It gives us a direct insight and tells something directly about the will of the universe and its unity. He does not condone getting down to it though, music is for comtemplation and Schopenhauer might not consider your favorite metal band music.

…when music suitable to any scene, action, event, or environment is played, it seems to disclose to us its most secret meaning, and appears to be the most accurate and distinct commentary on it.

But Schopenhauer is a rare case. others like Immanuel Kant considered music beautiful and intriguing but ultimately lacking in the meaning and force of communiction that other forms of arts have. Neither did Pound think of it much and by extention and regardles of his profound influence on pop music, neither did T.S. Eliot embrace it, in particular popular music. It’s what it is.

The arts have not been kind to music, and  it as an art form has been left on its own  with its very own appreciation.  Also when it comes to subsidizing of the arts, music is the last to get any dough to make it work. Rather the powers that be will try to keep the fledgling poets alive by funding weird poetry on walls, at bus stops or on benches, because the poet needs to be kept alive. The result of that is not a resurrection love of the word, but just crappy poetry pooped out by bad poets who found a way to make money doing something they apparently care so little for. If they did, they would know that their twitter-style poetry of putting words together in a way you can find on the infuriating ‘justgirlythings’ cards on tumblr is not really artistic. Enough about this topic…

So what can you find when you actually look for music and philosophy, specially pop music. I found this one blog which attempts to bring the two together, but really all it does is bring about connections between the sentences that might make sense, but really would make the artist in question just go ‘wa??’. Also, the whole Katy Perry analysis, comparing a her song to Plato’s cave metaphor is just cute, but ofcourse not adding any value or validation to the music of Katy Perry (which is as yet mostly still done by her other assets). They are great tunes though, that make you feel a bit better, but they’re not charged with meaning, subtext and so forth. That’s alright.

In my view art doesn’t need to explain itself apart from the aesthetic. It beats a shitty explanation you might get with a flowerpot filled with concrete and a broomstick stuck in it, that would read something like: “This art represents the apparent liberty of current day women, who are allowed to look at the top but never achieve it due to male dominated powerstructures that keep them achored to the lowly positions…” See, I knock that stuff up without a thought. Do you feel offended, because this was your art project? Well, that’s how artistic it feels.

Music does not get the validation from thinkers or the ‘art-industry’ of being art. Therefore, it should stop trying to be and define itself on its own terms. Music is music and art is whatever some pompous git somewhere thinks. Music is thanks to this also much more accesible and open, it’s less likely to create elitism (yeah, there’s the hipster thing, but you can pretty much ignore that compared to the sniggering ‘oh-look-at-me-being-provocative-with-a-cucumber-under-my-dress’ crowd in the art world. Art doesn’t want you to come enjoy it, it wants to be left alone and exist outside of society, in its ivory tower (meaning funded by the government). Music wants you to come in and embrace it. So let it be just that way.

True art doesn’t need a label or funding, it’ll just be. That’s what music is doing right now.

Ground control to Major Tom… About David Bowie

David Bowie passed away, it brought back a lot of memories when I watched that headline appear on google this morning. I’m not an expert, but I would like to offer some words.

Outsider
If you’d ask me to name the 10 best artists of the last 50 years or so, I’d probably name a bunch that worked with Bowie, but I wouldn’t mention Bowie.  For some reason he’s out there, all on his own, on a different level in the music universe. A place now vacant and I believe it’ll remain vacant for a long, long time. There is no artist like Bowie, no person who does music, art, films and making yourself such an immersed, integral part of your work.

My First Bowie
I’ve found that I hadn’t listened to Bowie for ages. I don’t know why, perhaps it just wasn’t time for that. I have been listening to and I suppose have been influenced by David Bowie for most of my life. It goes a little something like this…

When the CD was on the rise, my parents ditched their vinyl. Like many people they believed that time was over. What they kept was Bowie and Pink Floyd (and some miscalleanious stuff, like chart singles with Black Sabbath, but that was something I found much later). I enjoyed hearing the vinyls as a kid, so my mom probably told me Bowie was good and I believed her. I still bellieve most of the stuff my mom tells me. My dad never told me Pink Floyd was good, but years later I told him. He agreed.

Home
So my mom would spin them old Bowie records, like ‘Low’, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’, ‘Hunky Dory’, ‘Diamond Dogs’ and ‘Station To Station’. I still get the chills from that opening riff of ‘Ziggy Stardust’. This music stuck with me throughout my life. I think the music also stuck with my brothers and my mom still buys the Bowie albums now and then.

While we listened to those records we invented worlds with Lego’s, and rewrote history in board games. We passed our time together playing, thinking or reading.

I’m sad that Bowie is gone, but it also did make me think of those autumn holidays with my mom and my brothers, with Bowie singing in the background. I miss those terribly sometimes.

Music films that you should be watching

For a long time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching music documentaries on my free nights. If I’m not hitting the gym, seeing a show or enjoying some other form of entertainment, it’s pretty much what I’m looking for. I was hoping to highlight some cool stuff for you in this blog.

Ok, it’s not just documentaries, also the films they made about stuff. There are some really brilliant ones. So get them in (in any way you want, though I ofcourse have to condemn downloading here ofcourse).

Good Vibrations (2013)

“New York has the hair, London has the pants, but Belfast has the reason!” – Quote from the film.

This film is about Terri Hooley, the godfather of Belfast punkrock. A story of a war-torn country and the spark of hope from a guy who believes in the shared love for music. From opening a record shop on ‘bomb alley’ to signing some shitty punkbands on his own Good Vibrations records label. A great story, made into the funny surreal journey that these events actually were. The film has a lot of humor in it, but also a bit of the darkside that is often found in people that put music first. Enjoy tunes from The Undertones, The Outcasts, Rudi and ofcourse a bit of Belfasts very own Stiff Little Fingers.

Salad Days (2014)

Hardcore is a global thing these days, but its roots are on a few places in the USA. This documentary focusses on the scene in Washington DC. Going from the Teen Idles and State of Alert days to its glory of Void, Minor Threat and many other cool bands. Also the latter days are treated, with Fugazi and the decline of USA Hardcore. The best part is that they actually got the people interviewed who were at the centre of things, not the ones on the sides, particularly for the first part of the documentary. Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye give their views and ofcourse the Bad Brains drop in as well.
If you are not familiar with hardcore, this is as good as any documentary to get a feeling of what it is about and why it matters. Enjoy.

One Man Metal (2012)

Noisey is one of my favorite outlets for news on the music scene and they have a habit of exploring the unexplored fringes of music. This leads to amazing and in debt documentaries that are utterly fascinating. This docu about the famous one man metal bands is one of those. It’s often forgotten that this is not the natural shape music is formed in, so Noisey visits three of the more significant musicans to see what drives them.

This means LeviathanXasthur and Striborg are part of the series of three. It’s a harsh and confronting journey, showing some of the deep loneliness and darkness some individuals experience and transform into haunting art.

Heart Songs: King Dude – Lucifer’s The Light Of The World

There are these heart songs that resonate with me more than others, that I can listen to endlessly. Therefor I will discuss the song by King Dude, titled ‘Lucifer’s The Light Of The World’ here. I don’t intend it to be a review, but an expression of thoughts.

Why does the occult so intrigue me? I had this profound experience the first time I listened to heavy metal, again when I listened to martial folk and then when black metal came around it came back to me again. I think a similar feeling occured with punkrock. There’s something special, something unique happeneing when that comes around. I thought it was for finding new extremes, but then this song kinda destroyed that theory. The musician behind it used to be in a black metal band Book of Black Earth, but now changed his course.

King Dude is more a blues musician than anything else. Sure, his themes are on the dark side, but blues has always been a genre with a shady past. Think of Robert Johnson, who made a deal with Old Nick to play the blues the way he did. If that is how things work, then the deal that TJ Cowgill made with Lucifer must have been a good one, because that is some dark and haunting blues the man makes. His last album, titled ‘Songs of Flesh & Blood – In The Key of Light’, was one I got to review that gave me chills and got me puzzled what to name the thing. There’s some Johnny Cash, some Nick Cave and definitely something that is not of this earth.

It was not a song of that album that totally captured me but this one:

Why is this song so overwhelming? Is it the jangling repetition, is it the slightly unnerving set of tones? Is it the confidence and relaxed vibe that Cowgill has when singing this song in a gentle and comforting matter? I feel the latter is very strongly part of that. The lyrics name Lucifer the light of the world, the great comfort, illumination and wisdom. It’s a comfort to bask in this unholy light, to let Lucifer into your heart and warm your bones.

There’s something soothing and warming to the voice of Cowgill, the lyrics make it all feel ok. We all love the light, right? The light is a good thing that will make you feel better. We are part of this world and if Lucifer is the world, then isn’t that alright? I can hardly put to words how warm and pleasant this song feels, even though it has a dark edge to it. You feel like closing your eyes and just bask in the warmth of the sun, it’s like a sunny day where you stand in front of the window and really feel that warm your bones like nothing else really ever does. Lucifer is there for you, making this a song that touches the heart (hence heart songs).

source: Stottilien.com

All blaspheming aside, it is a beautiful tune and actually refers to medieval dualism of Christian Gnosticism of the 11th century practiced by groups such as the Cathars or Bogomils. You can read the proper explanation by the man himself in the interview hartzine did. The song is a response to another old blues track by Son House. Regardles, I was a bit scared by this music at first since it enthralled me so easily. I guess there is still some Christian angst inside me somewhere. Its time for me to pick up my book on Gnosticism I guess.

The occult is a refuge for those like me, who seem to be looking for some spirituality that doesn’t clash with certain life views. I do not look for a spirituality that tells me I do wrong, I need one that empowers me and tells me I am right sometimes. Might that be it? Perhaps Lucifer is in fact the light of this world…

 

Small man, big mouth: This is not hardcore

Compete, compete, do it for the boys
Empty barrels make the most noise
You’re always on the move
You’ve always got something to prove

– Minor Threat, ‘Small man, big mouth’

I’ve written a bit about music on my blog this far, mainly discussing metal and a bit of hiphop. For years my thing was hardcore though, and its a genre I love profoundly. I’m particularly into the old stuff, from the early days and the nineties, which was laden with ideas, philosophies and views. It’s all about making a difference.

I loved that stuff, because it opened my mind to so many other ways to live life. I think it sparked my interest in buddhism, my love for a healthy life and I even dabbled witht he straight edge idea. What I also loved, and you need to read books about this to find it out, is that hardcore has always been about opening doors, not closing them. Equality, freedom of opinions, anti-discrimination etc. Later this scene became a bit more stale and hermetic, but I guess that might get reinvigorated at some point.

What I’ve noticed over the last years is a change though, to the meaning of the word hardcore. For me it contains the PMA (positive mental attitude), respect and a certain decorum which you take through life. Don’t be that which is wrong in the world already, don’t be a racist, women degrading asshole. Show respect to others. That’s what I’ve tried to take from it. Now, I was never deep in the scene, just at the edges and taking my individual lessons from it. I got disillusioned by bands like Deez Nuts, Your Demise and the likes of Asking Alexandria. This was all pertaining to be hardcore, I don’t know if they were doing that themselves or the media. I liked Deez Nuts at first, they sounded crude and confronting, but seeing them live it also felt so hollow, so empty and devoid of meaning. Sure, Deez Nuts are staying true, but true to what? It seems to just be the music.

Don’t get it twisted its still fuckin hardcore,
stage dives, high 5s that’s what I’m in this for.
I ain’t in this for money or fame
but if I stack a little change fuck it I won’t complain.

– Deez Nuts, ‘Stay True’

I’m not trying to put these band in a bad light though. There’s always been room for bands that created the image for the scene and being a bit about the posturing and being tough guys. Tough guy hardcore was definitely a thing. What these bands seem to have opened the door for is a subgenre, which is just as much about the outside, the looks and the posing. That’s where the beef starts.

I tried some of the Deathcore bands as well, but found the same void there. It’s all about looks and not about the message. T-shirts got to shocking instead of inspirational and empowering, but have reached a point where it actually has nothing to do with the movement it claims to be part of. So do the lyrics and the off stage presentation fo certain bandmembers.  Apart from the switch from meaning and teaching the crowd to posure and gangster attitudes, some bands have taken a dive deeper into giving hardcore  a bad name….

source: metal injection

For girls, hardcore and metal is still a rather new place. Back in the late nineties, when I guess I started listening to music, it was still rare to find female musicians. I was well impressed with Brody Halle from The Distillers or Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy, but theyw ere still rarities. In hardcore even more so, maybe that’s why I always felt sympathy for bands that did have female vocalists. Not necessarily because they were good, but because they were necessary. Their acceptance would create more equality for guys and gals alike and you will get good girl fronted bands. At some point, it wont matter what gender the person fronting it has. Then we got to deathcore and bands like Emmure, Attila and  I Declare War take a whole leap backwards with their offensive as hell t-shirts.

This has nothing to do with hardcore anymore, this is everything the scene riled against from its inception. You have to imagine, what it does to the listeners of this music now. All the good vibes you may have gotten from hardcore, when you were that age, they just get this stuff. Gangster posing, calling girls bitches and being as rude as possible. Sure, that sounds old and boring, but ittouches upon that very thing that gives this music meaning.

Let me get to a close on my rant on this topic. I was not there, when hardcore was a thing. I only know the music and I’ve seen the bands. Let me mention an H2O, that band gave me more stuff to work with than all the deathcore crap combined. I’ve seen entire festival line-ups, with less heart than Terror, Boysetsfire, Madball or Ignite. This is what it ment, this is why its worth protecting. This is why these guys are douche bags and have no place in hardcore.

Source: City Rat Face

The reading of books #13

Another series of books read, this time Plutarch, Greg KeyesDayal Patterson and Richard A. Knaak. From Ancient Rome to the Elder Scrolls and Warcraft.

Plutarch – The Fall of the Roman Republic

source: Goodreads

Yes, another book by Plutarch. This time focussing on the transferral periode from the late republic to the empire, describing the lives of Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey the Great, Cesar and Cicero, who brought an end to the Republic. It’s a fascinating bit of storytelling, where Plutarch clearly shows he’s not in love with Cesar. In fact, he barely manages to keep it out of his words. Then again, none of the figures in this book appears to carry his favor, maybe Marius a little bit in most of his life. Sulla doesn’t get of lightly and Crassus looks like a buffoon. Pompey is the tragic figure in this version of events, together with Cicero I suppose.

The one life missing would be that of Cato, who opposed Cesar for as long as he could. It was a great read, that I enjoyed very much. Enough to order some more actually. What is lacking here, is the pairings with Greek lives. I’m also very curious about those and I must say I doubt the way the publishers dealt with that. All in all, it gives good insights in a highly confusing period of our ancient history.

Dayal Patterson – The Cult Never Dies: Volume 1

Source: Goodreads

Dayal Patterson started something big with his first book ‘Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult’. It was not enough, he had the desire to catalogue the entire black metal scene and its aspects, so here is the second book and first in a continuing series of looking at the blackest music genre you can find. Patterson takes a clean, journalistic approach to bands like SatyriconSilencer and Mgla and many, many more. It opens up the scene to new investigators, without disclosing all and keeping its edge of mystery in place.

The print looks minimal, which is good. The pictures are only in black and white, which is also rather enjoyabable and fitting. Patterson illuminates specific sections in this book, like the Polish black metal scene and the SDBM scene that emerged as a progenitor of post-blackmetal. He does this by taking out pivotal bands, but also interesting marginal acts to illustrate the broader whole. A well worth read for fans of the genre and intriguees.

Greg Keyes – The Infernal City

Source: Goodreads

This is the very first novel of the Elder Scrolls franchise by Bethesda (known for their game Fallout mostly, but also Skyrim). The book tells the story of a human character Annaïg and an Argonian called Glim (Lizard people) in the world of Tamriel. A strange floating city approaches and brings doom to the lands. Annaïg and Glim decide to assault this city and try to warn others of the coming doom. While being captured by the dark denizens of the city, they succeed in reaching prince Attrebus.

Another story there unfolds, with the Prince’s life being under threat and his carreer an apparent illusion to facilitate Empire propaganda. The central imperial city has little interest in helping those under attack by the floating city on the fringes of the empire (even just outside it). Attrebus sets out to carve his own destiny and to become the person he is supposed to be as a prince. The book is well written and the characters do get some background, though sometimes they are a bit foggy in personality. The work introduces the figures and peoples of the Elder Scrolls universe and thus makes for a nice read and introduction. Now I should get part two though.

Richard A. Knaak – Night of the Dragon

Source: Goodreads

I felt this urge to read the only Warcraft book that was still unread on my shelves. Probably I was not up for some literary masterpiece, but the writings of Knaak for Blizzard are always fun and catchy. So I started reading this follow up to Day Of The Dragon, the very first in the novel series of Blizzard. In this book we return to the doomed mountain where the first novel took place and the same key players converge, unwittingly of eachothers whereabouts on Grim Batol. Krasus, the dragon/mage, Vareesa Windrunner and a bunch of angry dwarves.

The plot deepens, when another of the black dragon flight emerges and plans to…dare I say? Take over the world. This time the book does not involve Deathwing, but some familiar elements of his evil will return in this story. It rekindles and connects other  storylines, which is always very pleasant for an afficionado of the game like myself. The series of near-death escapes is a bit too dense for my taste though, but you can’t win ’em all, can you now? Looking forward to maybe playing some more in that fabulous world of Azeroth.

 

Sounds of the Underground #17

I’m revamping and reinvigorating my sounds of the underground with cool releases in different genres. This time I’m presenting you Oake, Robyn Cage, L’Enfant De La Forêt and Nordic Giants

Oake – Auferstehung

source: deejay.de

I’ve been reading a new magazine and it is exposing me to a lot of new music, that I wasn’t familiar with before. I’ve started listening to Oake, a duo that just happened to stumble upon cold electronics and industrial through a shared passion for the sound. Clinging to their hardcore and metal roots, they created a sound that has an uncanny resemblance to early industrial bands, adding a clear cut clean sound to that vibe.

The result is bleak and atmospheric industrial, leaning towards the experimental with scraping, slow elements but also the vocals of Bathseba Zippora adding an eerie vibe to the songs. The music is made by Eric Goldstein, who’s been around the scene for years. The music is repetitive, but always foreboding, creating a tension that feels like the climax is never far away. Pounding and splashing beats give that cold industrial feel to it that reminds you of  Cocteau Twins and Coil, though the band claims to not have known about these groups. They evoka a mythic feel and organic vibe with their industrial sound, which is helped by the mysterious titles and vocals. A pleasure to listen to.

Robyn Cage – Tales of a Thief

source: robyncage.com

Robyn Cage is a singer-songwriter from Utah, with a  pleasant sound and nice voice. This EP has a thin layer of fantasy weaved in the lyrics, Generally the feeling of the music is mellow and folky. Then again carnavalesque and slightly haunting. This is not an album for singer-songwriter fans, but lovers of stories in song, because that is what Cage is doing on this record. Telling small stories in a theatric manner, showing of her voice at times.

Personally, songs like ‘Theatre Noire’ don’t appeal to me in that. For me ‘The Arsonist & The Thief’ is the nicest song, due to its wordplay. It’s very enjoyable. Somewhere this nice lady reminds me of the stuff I used to listen to, with the playful vibe of Regina Spektor and a dab of Florence and the Machine. Quirky yet never a joke, this is definitely a nice record to listen on your own when you need to relax to some Vaudevillean tunes.

L’enfant De La Forêt – Abraxas

Source: Bancamp

Dark ambient filled with plenty of other influence, Abraxas is a dark entity. I picked this up as a random bandcamp I hit on the search field and this new release seemed to embody a bit of the black metal exterior that I enjoy. Found at the crossroads between industrial, trip hop and noise, this is an interesting find indeed.  The man behind L’enfant Du Forêt is James Kent making this a one man project, which in a way even  surprised me regarding the variety on the record.

I feel the vibe of some old, darker dubstep stuff and mayb a bit of that first the xx record in the laid back, throbbing vibe of the tracks. Ok, I did expect for a moment during the song ‘Pessimist’ to hear Falco start his ‘Jeannie’. The play with the quality is quit interesting in that track, taking it back to a bare sound, before launching into a fuller atmospheric sound with. The atmosphere at time is like that on the Burzum prison albums. That sound of desolation and mystery is quite amazing and captivating. Surprising finisher is ‘The Rope’, a bleak, soundscape twisting doom track with a blackened taste to it.

Nordic Giants – A Séance Of Dark Delusions

Source: bandcamp

When a band can make you taste the Nordic wastelands, they are surely doing something right. It’s  a part of their total art product, combining, film, performance, sound, costumes and vibe to a complete experience and I had never heard of them before. The duo hails from England and has been slowly conquering souls and minds with their amazing postrock albums since 2010. This is the most recent accomplishment, to be streamed on the more popular stations.

Orchestral and big, illed with detail, atmosphere and rising patterns, the vocals are samples that usually convey messages. It adds a layer of intensity, due to the nature of these samples. If they wouldn’t be there, the music still would be beautiful though. When the band does use vocals, they offer a whole new spectrum to the organic sound. Like on ‘Rapture’, which can be considered the peak of the mountain that is this record. Think Sigur Rós, think Explosions in the Sky and add a bit of Sólstafir to that mix and you have this excellent band. So when are they playing nearby? The album is one long journey through wide and spacious lands, haunting, impressive and beautiful. Don’t miss out on it.

Just play! What happened to the Underground?

I’ve been puzzled by this question, what happened to the underground? Is the underground still there in music or how does that whole thing work nowadays?  Ofcourse theres something outside of the mainstream, but the old implication of the underground being what the mainstream should be is long gone.

I’m nothing, I should be everything
Yes, I did just quote Marx. The underground, it used to be the area of hard working bands, hoping to achieve mainstream succes with their unique sound. Perhaps some of them were a bit head strong or just weird, but they all had the same goal in common. That goal would be, becoming big and playing stadiums, you know… the rockstar life. Ofcourse, this still happens, bands playi in tiny, sweaty venues, hoping to be the next name in the charts. It doesn’t matter if you play hiphop or hardcore punk.

Scene
Not all bands have that goal in sight though. If you start playing death metal, the days of glory are long past. You are not hoping to achieve succes anywhere outside of your scene. The scene is a closed community, surrounding a genre. It’s become a thing like a niche, a rarity. Musicians realise that too, if they commit to a style, the mainstream is as far away as ever from them. Is that scene still underground? Perhaps, maybe the underground just has accepted it’s never going to become mainstream. The same thing as that a death metal band accepts they’ll probably never draw that punkrock crowd to their shows.

Hipster Girl!
That brings me to the next issue with this story, what is that thing with hipsters. Can something be hipster and still be underground? Not every band that is appreciated by what is considered the hipster crowd, ever really surfaces in the mainstream, but it starts to feel like whatever scene is involved with the hipster scene, ends up being in a transferral zone, between underground and mainstream. Neither accepts this music to the fullest. Look at a band like Deafheaven, from my black metal world. They have become a hipster band, meaning black metal has spat them out. Still, they are stuck in limbo, neither here nor there. When the scene spits you out, you can barely get back in.

A third way or any way
I’m not sure what state the world is in. Do we still do justice to the dense system, by using such generic terms like mainstream or underground? A middle way seems to not really resolve anything, but there’s a clear scene in between that is neither one nor the other. It’s peculiar enough to be called a third way, but it only shows the variety that actually exists and is going in all directions. The new music landscape seems to be one of pluralism, anything goes. It’s the postmodern condition in pop form.

Source: defendingcontending.com/

The mainstream is still, there, but it’s hardly something that plays a part in the deep, dense underground that shows itself in many guises, sometimes even that of mainstream. Maybe the underground never was  something that could be united by any general terms. It seems that nowadays it just happens to be confident where it is, whether its embraced in its scene, the general underground or just in its small, weird hipster niche.

There’s still plenty of sound from the underground.