Earthling Society – Zen Bastard

zenbastardThe chance to put the word ‘bastard’ in a headline, non-gratuitously? Sold!

Actually, though, this is probably my favourite album of the year so far. When my brain gets invaded my unwelcome ear-worms, it is the current – and formidable – defense system, especially Outsideofintime.

According to the blurb, these are re-recordings of some older tunes, with a new one thrown in. As I was previously unfamiliar with the band except by name, they’re all new to me. Reworking old songs is a good idea, though, when appropriate. I’ve started to realise with my own material that a song is never finished and will always continue to evolve of its own accord if you let it. The wonderful Big Blood frequently do this, too. There’s something about this notion that I’ve been wanting to put in a post for a while, so there may well be a macro-post coming up soon.

The songs are loooong, which I like. They skip around a bit, which I normally don’t like cos it makes me think ‘progressive’ which used to be a swear word around rock music when I was younger (thankfully, I grew up), but these boys make it work very well which proves the strength of the material. Stylistically, we’re talking about a 70s influenced space-rock vibe, so if you likes you your Hawkwind, do check these out. I also find myself thinking of Litmus in the approach and delivery. There are also dub infusions. More rock bands should have dub infusions.

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Luísa Maita – Fio da Memória

luisaAnother completely contrasting Soundberg, this is from Brazil. We have previous with Brazil, but this is a completely different kettle of sonic fish; although, in common with Rakta the tags on the bandcamp page are: Brazil, world…. gotta love it.

The music is impossible to put a single simple label on. One tune will be a sort of loungey-jazzy feel with mild inflections of dub, beats, etc and the next will have a low key Garbage-like synth-grunge feel to it. The predominant mood is downbeat electro with guitars and hints of r’n’b (the modern iteration of that genre), I suppose, but as this isn’t my usual area I am even less knowledgeable than is usually the case.

Back at the beginning of the millennium, I used to spend a lot of time listening to the Nortec Collective. Through them, I discovered the wonderful Julieta Venegas, who has a voice to die for, or at least, listen to in pleasure. And the reason I tell you this is because I thought of her whilst listening to this. Another artist I think of is Cibelle,who is also Brazilian (which I didn’t know until just now – I thought she was Portuguese!)

 

Horseback – Dead Ringers

hbdrJenks Miller brings us the first Horseback release since the really rather good ‘Piedmont Apocrypha.’ Dead Ringers sees a natural evlution in the Horseback sound, which is to say, he’s carrying on down the road that he was going down.

What this means in practical terms is that the rifftastic, droney, atmospheric, groovy, noisy mashup that is Horseback continues to be a rifftatstic, droney, atmospheric, groovy, noisy mashup. He’s kept his vocals exclusively clean this time out, which I think works for the better. There’s also quite the sonic crossover with one of his other projects, Jenks Miller & Rose Cross NC, lending proceedings an alt-country air.

Listening to it last night again I was reminded mainly of the wonderful Appliance, who probably fitted few of the descriptors I used previously – it may have been partly the crystal clean production (a feature of all Horseback recordings), partly the drum machines which feature on the early parts of the album. The night before I found myself thinking of Julian Cope, particularly on the tune most likely to have slotted onto his earliest releases, In Another Time, In and Out of Form. Before that it was the HP Lovecraft band from the late ’60s. It is entirely possible that this album will remind me of a different artist every time.

There is a minor imperfection in that the last tune is about 6 minutes too long for my money; he could have kept the post-dubstep experimentation down to a mere 10 minutes and it would have been fine! But this is an otherwise minor quibble, as this is otherwise my favourite Horseback album.

Peaking Lights – 936

This, my friends, is spaced out psychedelic dub pop at its very finest. Upon discovery, this sat undisturbed on my playlist for several months. There has been a gap, and now I have re-discovered it again, and it is spending quality time in my brain providing much needed inoculation against some of the more virulent sonic memes that I have unfortunately been repeatedly exposed to by my otherwise wonderful children.

I may have mentioned the marvellous Matchess, who inhabits sonic landscapes not too dissimilar to those found here, albeit with less emphasis on the beats, and is a bit less new-agey.

I believe this borders onto the lands of the not-quite-so-obscure as my usual taste in music, meaning y’ain’t gonna find no easy Bandcamp embed here; regardless, my best method of portraying my love for this music is simply to seek out web links from whence you can hear it, as I have been wont to do of late. So here:

Opener Synthy doesn’t seem to have a video, but All the Sun That Shines does:

Amazing and Wonderful:

Birds of Paradise dub version:

Key Sparrow:

Tiger Eyes (Laid Back):

Marshmellow Yellow:

and finally, Summertime:

You may notice a theme with the visuals…

It will probably not come as too much of a surprise if I tell you that this is positive music, generally upbeat – where there are no beats it is very hypnagogic, all giving it a proper feelgood effect. I’ve engaged most often with it in a late-evening/early nighttime period, in various states of consciousness, and can assure you that I can find no instance in which this album isn’t fantastic. One of my true favourites from this millennium.