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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Hey Colossus (again!)

rsh-sleeve Oh, the oh-so predictable fan boy is bound to post about his favourite band’s new album…

So anyway, the thing is out imminently. However, I went to see them play last week, which was a truly mighty and groovy experience even allowing for Tim Farthing blowing up his guitar amp and having to borrow one for the remainder of the set, and I thus scored myself the new CD. And new CD has been played daily since.

Their website also links to a stream of the new album, but I don’t know how long that’ll be up for.

Although it isn’t quite as good as In Black and Gold (what is? not a lot, that’s what), it do have some mighty fine music on here, it do. Album highlight (for me) is Hop the Railingswhich makes me think of Circle going post-punk. Also doing serious time in my head has been Numbed Out  and Another Head. It’s a generally more up-tempo record, and the increasingly cleaner production does foreground the interplay amongst the guitarists with a clarity that hasn’t been heard before, although at some cost to their heaviness (this can be compensated somewhat by playing the thing uber-loud). When they do slow things down, they’re reminding me of Earth’s recent stuff.

Let’s hope this small wave of incredible goodwill they’ve noticed becomes a large one, especially if it means they’ll make more music. However, there is no need to completely abandon absent mindedly clanging off more riffathons. Rigidity has its place (in corpses, and here may be the germ of a new macro-series), but it’s a tool, not a paradigm.

Circle / Pharoah Overlord

It’s because I love you so much that I’m going to tell you about Circle AND Pharoah Overlord.

I know it quite beggars the belief, but it seems that Circle are not known by absolutely everybody. To try and go reductionist on this mighty entity, they are from Finland, have been releasing albums since 1994, and have more album releases than I can hope to keep up with. To try and describe their style is beyond impossible as it has shifted so regularly over the years, but things they have generally kept in common are repetition, hypnotism and experimentalism in their avant-stoner-psych-prog rock. Having said that, they have done the odd full ambient thing, and the odd full on noise thing. I think if you tried to explain the concept of a boundary to them, they would look at you quite non-plussed. And then they’d probably laugh at you, in Finnish.

Not happy with doing all of the above on a very regular basis, they have several offshoots too. One of them is Pharoah Overlord, who have been putting out albums since around 2001. Much more instrumentally focussed and much more minimalistic in their approach (essentially the repetition of a riff for 10 minutes at a time), they ultimately take you to a similar place as their parent band.

This year, Circle have released ‘Pharoah Overlord’ and Pharoah Overlord have released ‘Circle.’ Some people find this confusing. Personally, I wonder why they didn’t do it sooner. Seems perfectly logical to me.

It is my pleasure and joy to have bought both these albums, although I was unable to find them through my digital outlets again and had to send off for the CDs (unlike when I did this with Thee Oh Sees, I haven’t since found their digital stockist of choice). Maybe those of you who do subscriptions for your digital music will have better luck but I don’t do that sort of thing. Or maybe you want the CD or vinyl anyway.

And you should want them. They are both mighty, they both do what both bands are so good at, they both sit completely in place in their respective bands catalogues without sounding like anything else within them. I probably slightly prefer the album by Pharoah Overlord because it reminds me of Circle circa the Rautatie era, but its early days on both albums and the mileage I generally get from their releases can last for years.

I think I might have given you a preview here but here’s another one: https://soundcloud.com/ektrorecords/circle-kavelen-luiden-paalla

I was reminded of this being out when I got the fantastic news that Hey Colossus have another new album out this year, and the tune they had on preview reminded me more than anything of ‘classic’ Circle. (yes that was a shameless excuse to plug Hey Colossus again. Check out this video of them playing ‘Hey, Dead Eyes, Up!‘)

General blah

Although unstated, I realise that the majority of Britons and other humans have in fact been inhumanly worried by the fact I’ve barely posted a thing for a while. Fact is, I’m still mostly listening to the bands who I’ve already posted this year, especially where they have a back catalogue that I’m lapping up. So that would mainly be: Hey Colossus (and boy do they have a back catalogue worth exploring), Verma (ditto), Big Blood, Follakzoid and Malayeen. Also, an album from last year by Circle called Leviatan. They’ve just released an album called Pharoah Overlord, and their side project Pharoah Overlord have just released an album called Circle and I want to buy them both but am currently finding it hard to do so in the same way I struggled to get the new Thee Oh Sees album – none of my usual digital providers seem to have it. I’ll hondootedly post about it once I do manage to acquire it. I may have to buy the CD from somewhere when I find someone that isn’t charging vinyl prices.

Anywho, it would be rude to post without some noise so here’s something from said album.

See, I’m just not one of those people who demands something new all the time. The reason I tend to make most of my discoveries in the early part of a year is because that’s when I trawl through the previous years best ofs according to overinflated opinions. There’s no way I could do what someone like SpaceRockMountain does – I mean, when does he get time to listen to music he already likes?

That insanely long compilation I mentioned some time back is yielding fruit in the name of the Roz Bruce Infusion. I may buy the album although the two tunes on their soundcloud aren’t quite as good as the track on said compilation, which is one of my fave tunes of the moment. Fellow midlanders too – Are you reading, Roz? First, get yerself a Bandcamp, and then get a gig over in Leicester! (or wait until us mighty Sons of Itto have finished re-stirring and invite us over to a gig in Brum!)

Laters x