The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band – Planet Lam

planetlamThis is quite unlike anything I’ve heard before. Caveat: This is only the second example of  Thai music I’ve knowingly listened to, the first was an album of traditional music by Pong Lang.

This is apparently a reinvigoration of a traditional style known as Molam. Also, there is quite clearly at least one westerner in this line-up. Look at the dude on the right, who may have at least some reponsibility for the obvious western influence in some of the tunes, The Adventures of Sinsai especially combining a fairly standard rock beat and bassline with a wonderful Thai style melody played on an instrument I cannot guess at to marvellous effect. They also incorporate dub stylings very well indeed at times. My favourite tune, the indescribably wonderful Namtok (Waterfall) is impossible to put into words, really laid back with a sparse backdrop and meandering guitar over the top. Indeed, there’s a passage of tunes in the middle of the album that really, really, float my boat. The narrative of the album seems to get more and more traditional as it continues.

It doesn’t sound a million miles from folk music at times, which might be a silly thing to say because Molam is probably a folk music by definition. In fact, there might be a clue there. I wonder how much similarity there is across the various folk musics across the world? Then perhaps, supposing you’ve already clocked the strange similarities in mythologies across the world, and for the sake of argument may have noticed similarities in certain rituals from different parts too… well, makes y’think. If thinking is your thang, anyway.

 

Earthling Society – England have my Bones

zenbonesWell it isn’t often I post about the same band more than once in the same year , but this Earthling Society outfit are proving to be quite the find.

As is so often the case with music like this, words completely fail me. I’ve come to the conclusion that the easier something is to put into words, the less of an effect it has on you. But that may just be due to incipient stupidity on my part. What am I, a music critic?

As the blurb on the bandcamp page says, the centrepiece is definitely their take on the Alice Coltrane classic, but the accompanying material is also worth the price of admission on its own, which should tell you how highly I’m rating this. This is mighty, mighty music.

And it is also testament to those so many artists who keep plugging away and doing what they gotta do regardless of recognition. With no need to please a fanbase you have the space to grow truly. There’s loads of artists like this around who just keep getting better and better by simply remaining true to themselves, and the internet’s continuing decimation of the mainstream music industry* allows more and more of these to find some appreciative ears. Long may it continue.

*the mainstream music industry is now probably better decribed as the spectacle soundtrack industry. Music always seems to be of secondary concern to the visuals.

Big Blood – The Daughters Union

bigbloodI have barely listened to music made by other people the last month or so, and that is because I have started recording again. However, a new album by Big Blood is a ‘drop everything’ moment.

This doesn’t disappoint because Big Blood. But also, they’ve put on their glam clothes for some of the tunes on here. And I’d like to point out that ‘Reproduce & Get Dirty,’ besides being an ace title, is one of the great Big Blood songs, which is to say, it’s one of the great songs.

I love Big Blood because they have total creative freedom and they use it. They’re not trying to please anybody but themselves. They have a huge advantage, of course, in the fact that their songwriting abilities are outrageously good, which always helps. I personally think that great material comes from having the right attitude to start with rather than the other way round.

Long may they continue to be themselves.

Yantra – Drones e Excursões de Guitarras Rumo ao Desconhecido Vol. 2

yantraAnother trip back to Brazil, completely unlike any of the previous visits.

Yantra do what is described as psychedelic meditation music. From such a thing you can expect and will receive two slow-moving pieces of improvised performances which do that hypnotic transcendent thing of which I am so fond. These two pieces were recorded in 2016 at separate locations, and you can tell the difference in atmosphere of each piece. They do complement each other very well, however.

Because I don’t often listen to pure drone works, I don’t really have any reference points for you. That probably isn’t important anyway. If you’re in the mood to chill, this works very well.

The label that releases this seems very interesting, too. I had a listen to one of the Hierofante releases, and I’ll definitely be going back for another listen.

Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society – Simultonality

simultonalityThe last time I was aware of Josh Abrams making an album, I had a bit of a grumble about how it wasn’t that easy to get hold of, at least for me. Well, that seems to have been fixed now, and I found that out by finding out that he had a new thing out. Not only that, but he’s also collaborated with the Soundbergs-approved Bitchin Bajas in the meantime.

This is the groovy end of jazz, the type I like, where the music does a number on me hypnotically. It seems to be a natural progression from the above-mentioned Magnetoception, nice long grooves with a motorik pulse. There’s nods to the spiritual jazz tradition of the Coltranes and Pharoah Sanders, but also a mellow, laid back feel. This music isn’t in a hurry; after all, there is no need to hurry to make an eternal point.

A few words have been typed making mention of the fact that this has been credited to Josh Abrams AND Natural Information Society, which suggests that this may be more collaborative than previous efforts. Whether that’s the case, or whether this is simply a more explicit acknowledgement of the collaboration, this is an excellent addition to Abrams output.

 

The Bug vs Earth – Concrete Desert

bugearthI have long loved both The Bug and Earth, obviously for very different reasons. The Bug’s London Zoo in particular was righteous in its wrath and groovy in its execution, whilst Earth’s catalogue (particularly since the comeback) is one often inducive to deep relaxation and meditation. You might not think they would make obvious collaborators, in other words.

Of course, if my finger ever came out of its shell-like and went and tried to find the pulse, then I might have been aware that this has been brewing a while since they did a single a little way back.

On this release, Kevin Martin seems to work to Dylan Carlsons’ strengths, letting the guitarist dictate the pace whilst he complements the tones with a sound that I find myself calling glacial paranoia. The grooves are there, but they’re dialled back. It’s about the atmosphere, which is dark and resonant. Ambient industrial grime, if you want a label.

Despite the fact that the times we live in are frankly a riot of chaos, I could imagine this as a surreal soundtrack to them.

 

 

Hyenaz – Hyenaz

hyenazIn complete contrast to almost everything I’ve ever posted about, ever, I bring you Hyenaz.

Hyenaz are a synth-pop duo from Berlin, although the epithet synth-pop doesn’t really do full justice to this electro-monster groove machine. The rhythms are relentless and thunderous, yet subtle when they want to be too – the art of good songwriting, in other words, that old boring chestnut I’m sure I keep banging on about. There is a hedonistic and sensual feel about the music despite its purely synthetic origins, and a hypnotic mixture of melody and screech. They give good performance, it is said, which goes a long way to suggesting one of the core things about creating good material, although there’s a much larger discussion to be had over all that which I may make into a macro-post if I can be arsed to work out my roughly seventeen contrasting opinions on the matter into mere words.

The nearest reference point – for me, anyway – is Telepathe, who as far as I know are still extant despite only having put out that one album some years back.

There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to how and why I decide to give something a listen, and I couldn’t tell you how this fell onto my radar. I mean, this isn’t even their most recent album! So another thing to check out, then…