The Soundbergs of 2015

So, by and large, I’m excluding albums I only discovered the last couple of weeks. But not consistently. Also, I’m going to go on about older stuff that thoroughly rocked me this year, so the aforementioned stuff has a chance for next year. Also, confining stuff into years is arbitrary, because years themselves are a bit arbitrary the way we count them nowadays, although they do represent a real cycle. Also, there is no ‘order’ to this list except for the fact that I ordered it into existence because I am a ruthless bastard like that. Also, this paragraph just gained an extra sentence that added nothing to it except extra letters and words.

So: Stuff released in 2015.

Hey Colossus – In Black and Gold : Having just written that this is in no order, this is most definitely the album that brought me the most joy in 2015. I played it incessantly. My subsequent time with their back catalogue brought me just as much joy. And they played a brilliant gig in September. For such a heavy band, they have an incredible way of making their music swing.

Laughing Eye Weeping Eye – Once Was You : This is an album that is utterly unique. It sounds like nothing else, ever. Unless it does, in which case it behooves someone to tell me what that something is. Eerie, droney, a world of its own.

The Myrrors – Arena Negra : Meditative, spacious, at times ecstatic, and they were just as good live.

Les Sorciers Du Theil – Polyte Deshaies : This album came out of nowhere. I think that I may have to give a hat tip to the person who does the psych round up at The Quietus as to where I discovered it. Four heavy and at times insane songs, all bliss.

Follakzoid – III : Kosmiche meets techno, although very heavily in favour of the former. Pulsating, driving, relentless, and very high quality.

Black Bombain – Live at Casazul : Heavy-psych improvisation at its best, with added saxophone. Nuff said.

Alif – Aynama-Rtama : Middle eastern music with an ear for rock-style arrangements. Some of the riffs, the rhythms and arrangements are just mindbendingly good.

Rob Mazurek : Alternate Moon Cycles : Pure, meditative drone. Insanely relaxing.

Big Blood – Double Days II : They actually released two albums simultaneously. Double Days I is a very rare beast – a Big Blood album I’m not overkeen on. But Double Days II is as good as ever, and they finish it off with one of their very best songs. Apparently they’ve got another album ready to go but I see no evidence of it out yet.

People of the North – An Era of Manifestations / Oneida – Positions : Two albums in one entry? I must be having a larf. Essentially the same masterminds though, which is how I justify it. The POTN album has a more jazzy feel, whereas the O album is closer to their classic sound. Both are essential in my life.

Pharoah Overlord – Circle / Circle – Pharoah Overlord : Wot, again? Well, when masterminds use different monikers, it would just be indulgent of me to give them separate entries in a year end list, n’est-ce pas? Repetition, repetition, repetition. It’s what they do best, and it’s what I like best.

Pridjevi – Pridjevi : I never got around to posting about these, and I should have done. So I may still do. This is sunny psych-pop from Croatia, nearest reference point I can think of is Jefferson Airplane, but sunny psych-pop isn’t usually my thing so you may think of more appropriate references.

Anna Von Hausswolff – The Miraculous : Another album I didn’t post on, only bought it in December. She’s brought a band with her this time, as well as an epic church organ. Droney and heavy, and I do like her voice.

Favourite non-2015 music:

Big Blood – The Wicked Hex : Still processing their mighty back catalogue. This is most similar in style to the incredible Unlikely Mothers, and probably as good although Unlikey Mothers contains ‘A Watery Down part 2’ which, if pushed, I’d probably name as my favourite ever piece of music.

Selim Lemouchi & his Enemies – Earth Air Spirit Water : A very varied album featuring probably one of my favourite ever songs in ‘Chiarascuro’ which is probably best described as ecstatic darkness, especially given subsequent events.

Dahga Bloom – No Curtains : There was a time in late Feb and much of March when I barely listened to music due to bad-sinus induced discomfort. This album was one of the few I did, which is odd because it isn’t exactly mellow…

Hey Colossus – Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo / Happy Birthday / RRR : This has been their year as far as I’m concerned. All three of these albums got some very heavy rotation, heavy being the operative word.

Verma – entire discography : I went through a phase in the summer of playing a Verma album every night, without an obvious favourite emerging, so I simply kept rotating them because it is all THAT good.

Follakzoid – II : I now consider this superior to the successor. This is very high quality up-tempo driving kosmiche.

Espers – II : for years I only thought their debut album was really all that good. in 2014 I finally got the follow up, and continued getting it in 2015. I still haven’t quite got the third one; maybe that will come yet.

Puffy Areolas – In the Army / Dishonorable Discharge : although I’ve known the albums for a few years, it was actually this year that they really grabbed my throat, possibly an echo of my discovery and love of Narcosatanicos.

Malayeen : Middle eastern psychedelia at its very best, ecstatic, trance-inducing.

The Wharves – At Bay : this album completely ruled January 2015 for me. Outrageous harmonies supporting great songwriting.

I haven’t included every single thing I’ve posted about, because this is quite long enough as it is. 2015 was an odd year for me in many respects, but absolutely brilliant for music – why else would there be an album from Thee Oh Sees that is as good as ever but doesn’t make the year end? I absolutely luxuriate in the sheer amount of high quality stuff there is out there, and in that respect 2016 has already got off to a superb start.

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Laughing Eye Weeping Eye

a2331277226_16I really don’t know where to begin with this.

And that is a good thing.

This is where drone, folk, what is probably a harmonium, and tarot cards meet. This is particularly good for me, as these are all some of my favourite things, although by way of a disclaimer, I should point out that I have many, many favourite things. It’s one of the very best things about getting older.

I mean, I’ve labelled it ethereal, and in many respects it is, but it is also an amazingly material sound. There’s a density which complements the obviously etheric inspirations. If I was a ‘proper’ music critic, I’d be trying to think of a new genre name now.

And it sounds like absolutely nobody else I’ve ever heard. Again, in a good way.

The website of the main player, Rebecca Schoenecker, is here. She’s about a lot more than the music. Have a look at this video for a tune that isn’t on the album I’ve embedded:

Probably the best thing I can do is stop typing. Probably the best thing you can do is listen.

Rob Mazurek – Alternate Moon Cycles

Ha! This’ll sort out the psychonauts from the stylites.

I have discovered this concurrently with Les Sorciers du Theil and the two albums complement each other superbly well, although they do stand alone equally well, too. This is proper meditation music. Total drone. Any of you who are attached to the idea of a second note entering a piece of music may want to move along, nothing to see here.

The man seems to have quite a list of works to his credit although this is my first exposure to him, hence why I specified the album. I feel I’m going to be checking out his catalogue though, and I have a feeling that will be a pleasure.

Les Sorciers du Theil

I can’t remember where I heard or read about these. Apparently they convene annually and improvise some music. Maybe they should convene more frequently.

They put me in mind of: Parson Sound, Master Musicians of Bukkake, a little bit Electric Moon, a twist of Selim Lemouchi, and the whispered vocals on the final track of Polyte Deshaies make me think of Current 93.

I really haven’t got anything to write! Marvellous music, though. I am listening to it often.

Hey Colossus

There is a theory that has some currency within the occult blogosphere that suggests that such things as divination, and indeed, successful enchantment, stem from an ability to make contact with your future self. There is no one definitive link that I’m aware of, but here is a good place to start.

I have a longstanding very dear friend, who I, not often enough, have long chats about music with. Of late, he has recommended this very group of noisemakers and indeed it was after a chat/email with him that I went and listened to their new album on Bandcamp (this is why I love that platform so much, and find myself bemused by people who don’t use it to its potential, artists only allowing you to hear two tracks for example. Selling albums by one or two tracks only is a dead business model! Dead! Make your whole fucking album awesome!). The name Hey Colossus was not unknown to me; I have a copy somewhere of Hey Colossus and the Van Halen Time Capsule which I do like, but have to be in the mood for.

hcThe first time I listened to In Black and Gold, I was at work but I nonetheless enjoyed it. But what really stuck in my mind was a sensation of just how much I was going to enjoy this in listens to come. I felt a marvellous, yes marvellous, anticipation. So I bought the download, and then forgot about it, which was a bit silly.

I then had a dose of man-flu with bonus sinus-migraines which I’m still shaking off a month later but at its worst I barely listened to any music at all, with the exceptions of Dahga Bloom and Big Blood. Recently starting to feel a bit better, and treating myself to a computer game that I can get completely lost in, I queued up a load of music last Friday night for a bit of a sesh. At about midnight, music comes on that I don’t recognise. Song after song, each better than the last, hypnotic, pulsating, loud, heavy, riffmungous: eventually, I have to turn off my game to see who it is, and hey presto, ’tis Hey Colossus. I had even forgotten that I’d queued it up.

It’s since had a nightly play, me and In Black and Gold can be said to be having a most torrid affair (sorry if you thought you were the only one, but we’re in love!)

But I also find myself wondering if I somehow, in that marvellously weird anticipation, tuned in to just how much that half an hour before I gave in and looked at the artist was going to blow my mind. Also, would it have had the same effect if I’d just played the album whilst surfing tinterwebs and therefore not in the dark about the artist? ‘What if’ questions are, of course, pointless. You only have what actually happened.

And what actually happened blew my mind.