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.

Advertisements

Malayeen

I don’t find much about these on tinternet, though I can tell you that Malayeen are “the Lebanese trio of Raed Yassin (Keyboards, Turntables & Electronics),Charbel Haber (Electric Guitar & Electronics) and Khaled Yassine (Darbouka, Percussion).” I believe I actually first read about them over at Dusted in Exile, but can’t be bothered to trawl their archives (I am not a fan of the tumblr sites, no, not at all).

Given my general abhorrence to labelling musics these days, it probably comes as no surprise to start stumbling across music that my limited western mindset wouldn’t even know where to start in terms of classification (although I believe I may have had a rant about the notion of classification…) All I’m going to tell you is that this puts me in a trance, particularly the longer songs on the album (one of which I have linked up top), and by my definitions, that makes this music psychedelic. It also reminds me somewhat of some of the ecstatic Sufi music I’ve heard. Boy, would I love to be around that in real time.

Because I can’t find any ways of playing you the album, here’s another tune:

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.

Crow Tongue

I promised loud, and actually this is… intense.

crowtinguethumbMuch like the album from Valerio Cosi that I bigged up some posts back, Ghost : Eye : Seeker doesn’t seem to be fully listenable online anywhere so you’re going to have to take my word for it, although you can listen to a couple of the tracks here and here.

For those of us who have some experiences amongst altered states of consciousness (although technically watching TV is an alteration of your consciousness, albeit reducing its scope; I mean in the way our culture currently understands the term) this album is a route into a different way of seeing that requires no extra inputs. Playing this album in the background is a waste of electricity; you have to engage and listen to it. It will put you in a trance-like state every time. Well, it does me.

Other people have used words like raga, drone, avant-garde, free noise, improvisation in trying to describe this. Certainly those words make sense once you’ve heard it, but they are not complete descriptors (can any words be? This attempt by Julian Cope, much as I respect him and his music, represents exactly why I don’t want to try too hard to describe music myself… although I am fully on board with the sentiment). All I can say is thank the lord for random fans putting up songs on Youtube so that you can listen to at least some of it, although the second clip I linked has to have pretty much the least relevant image to accompany a song I’ve ever seen.

As for why I’ve categorised this as experimental psychedelia, I personally ‘define’ music as psychedelic due to the effect it may have on my consciousness rather than whatever stylistic conventions it may follow. I shall get more into this on part 3 of my ‘passion or pastiche‘ series.

Puffy Areolas

It wasn’t until I started looking into doing this post that I found out what the non-band version of puffy areolas actually are…

PuffyAreolaspicCA22956629

I first mentioned these as a reference point for the wonderfully hectic Narcosatanicos (who have another release out! Guess what I’ll be checking later…). I read somewhere that Puffy Areolas date back to the beginning of the 1980’s and were apparently contemporary with Black Flag, but I cannot find where I first read that so my memory may be playing up – I have a feeling it was in one of the ‘listed’ features that dusted magazine do. They seem to have been active fairly recently according to their Facebook page (ugh! I feel dirty linking to that site), but I’m buggered if I can find any history of the band anywhere on t’web. And if you look at when their wonderful records were released then it may just be a back story, or I may just have a shit memory. Although I can see no logical reason why their two albums would have 1981 and 1982 specifically mentioned, unless they did date from that time.

Does anybody out there have enough info to put me out of my only-just-noticed misery?

Regardless of the above, I just love love love this music, so I don’t really care when it was made. However, the best description I’ve seen of it is here so I shall not try and compete with that. Just take what he says as the gospel truth.

The above pics are from their Hozac records page and their LastFM page.

Electric Moon

So, now 2014 is out the way and I got my year end list up, now I can travel back in time to previous musics. Now, it seems that this makes it harder for me to link directly to an album for you to listen to, although with this band it probably isn’t a huge thing, on account of how almost everything they’ve done is frankly marvellous.

Part of me assumes everybody in the world knows about Electric Moon. How can they not? If ever there was a band who represented the psych-rock zeitgeist so compellingly, it’s them. And we’re all into psych-rock aren’t we? That’s why there’s so many bloody chancers getting in on it again…

But it seems that my little world isn’t exactly the same as the ‘objective’ one out there, so it behooves me to tell all of you objective people that Electric Moon exist and are probably better than your favourite psych-rock band. If you look at their discography page, there is an awful lot of releases, many of which are live sets. And me, I’m an album dude, so I largely listen to albums. And there are three albums I really think should be listened to muchly:

 

(I can’t find an equivalent for the ‘Lunatics’ album)

I can tell you about them all by telling you about any one of them, really, and that really is no disrespect or faint praise. This is the sort of music made by a band who know each other inside out, can anticipate where each other is going and can play off each other with immense skill. It feels like jam music that has purpose without having a pre-defined end-point (i.e. pretty much unlike most of the other jam-music out there). I think I’ve now invented a new genre – teleological jamming!

On top of that, there’s a couple of honest-to-goodness songs mixed in too.

I think what really separates them from the rest of the ‘jam-bands’ who are their nearest peers in terms of sonic description is their judicious use of Komet Lulu’s vocals, particularly when she uses the husky whisper that she does on the awesome ‘Moon Love’ (23 minutes of sonic perfection).

In a roundabout way, I would never have discovered Big Blood if it wasn’t for Electric Moon. For years I’ve checked in every now and again over at Ran Prieur‘s website because of his ability to chuck interesting articles and viewpoints out at the world, but I’d never paid much attention to his taste in music, because his recommendations had always seemed a bit too US-indie for my taste, the sort of music that uses the word ‘sophomore.’ (I’m English, and that word means nothing to me, I tell you, nothing!) And then one day he recommended Electric Moon and used the word ‘ineffable’ to describe their music and I thought, you know what, maybe this boy has better taste than I credited him with*, maybe I’ll check out his future recommendations. And pretty much the next band he recommended was Big Blood.

*i.e. taste that I approve of, which probably says more about me than it does about him 🙂 Also, I have never come across a better description of Electric Moon’s music than ‘ineffable.’ I think that’s what I was trying to say using far more words. Think teleology without a specified end-point – life itself, in other words. And the macrocosm in the microcosm in the macrocosm gets demonstrated yet again, at least to my own satisfaction…

I think I can safely say that I am not afraid of teleology.

Favourite releases of 2014

I present these in no real order (except for the obvious number 1) because how can you compare a Pink Lady apple with a Granny Cox’s one? Some days one hits the spot better, other days the other does.

Obvious number 1: Big Blood – Unlikely Mothers

I love this album so much it turns me into an idiot.

Stara Rzeka – Cień chmury nad ukrytym polem

This discovery justifies all the trawling through Tiny Mix Tapes that I occasionally subject myself to. You want to know why I rarely get into excessive descriptions of the music I post? Tiny Mix Tapes. Also, this music is almost impossible to describe. Parts of it are like James Blackshaw jamming with Ben Chasny, other bits are Death Metal, still others ambient, and finishing up with what sounds like an elegy.

Thee Oh Sees – Drop

This band can do no wrong. Their consistency is astonishing. ‘Garage’ rock at its best.

Narcosatanicos – Narcosatanicos

I’ve already posted about these…

Villagers Of Ioannina City – Riza

and these…

Horseback – Piedmont Apocrypha

Horseback is one dude (Jenks Miller) for those of you not in the know, though some of his recordings feature a backing band. Piedmont Apocrypha is one of my favourite HB releases, combining elements of his rock, drone and noise tendencies to excellent effect.

Midday Veil – The Current

Definitely at the more accessible end of what I listen to, the best song is ‘Without and Within,’ which is very meditative. They are thought of as a psych outfit, but the band they remind me of most is actually Fleetwood Mac! But without the sexual tension, obviously… I cannot give you a valid ‘objective’ reason for that except to report that it is so.

Goat – Commune

Not that these need my help getting any recognition. I will say as a caveat though that a little nagging voice keeps going on when I listen, and it keeps saying ‘passion or pastiche?’ Maybe that sort of thing isn’t as important as I think it is. It’s her vocals that raise these up for me. She’s nearly as raw and true-angelic as Colleen Kinsella, although not quite as fully developed.

Earth – Primitive and Deadly

If you know Earth already, this needs no intro. If you don’t, they’re the original inspiration for sunn 0))) although they moved to a more meditative style some years back. This album sees them cranking it back up again but staying with the compositional style of the last few years, and it works very well, even being able to cope with guest vocalists! (I rarely like albums which have to rely on guest vocalists, although there are exceptions).

The Pack A.D. – Do Not Engage

I will probably do a separate post about these to document how mad my discovery of them was. Stylistically, they’re a 2-woman stadium rock outfit, though they prefer the term ‘garage rock.’. Where are you going? They’re actually really good, particularly the tune ‘Creepin Jenny.’

https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePackad

Verma – Sunrunner

Not only amongst the best of the year, but also they get an award for leaving it til the last minute, though that is not their fault, I only just discovered it in the last week of the year! Features the uber talented Whitney Johnson as part of their line-up, kind of heavyish jam band not afraid to stick a bit of structure in where it can do the most good.

http://www.troubleinmindrecs.com/bands/verma.html

The Wharves – At Bay

Also get an award for late entry onto the list, having discovered these in the holiday between christmas and new year… think Sleater Kinney with some outrageous vocal harmonies. Their energy is awesome.

Prince Rupert’s Drops – Climbing Light

there are a couple of clunkers on this album, but also some songs that make me jealous. This band have a way with the guitar lick, they really do.

And on that note, I should point out that there’s a shedload of stuff I haven’t listened to (such as most of the stuff listed here, some of which may be in a post roughly this time next year detailing stuff I discovered in 2015 from years other than) because you can’t listen to everything. There’s a tremendous freedom in resolutely ignoring all TV/radio and almost all music media and just going by peoples recommendations and your own sense of ‘that’s a cool/interesting/intriguing name/title’ and subsequently building up a completely unclassifiable taste in music. Also, the best music is always underground, and you only find that by going outside, getting your hands dirty and digging with your own spade… you dig?