Nothing, as a word, can even begin to hint at what it truly means.
Nothing, as a word, can even begin to hint at what it truly means.
These are clearly very well known by the standards of who I usually blog about, but I don’t care. I don’t have a prejudice against well-known bands, it’s just that they so rarely do anything which actually interests me, let alone blows me away. This, lady and gentleman, blew me away.
It probably says at least a few words about me in that I had genuinely never heard of them before. I actually discovered them via my hopping from bandcamp fan’s music taste to bandcamp fan’s music taste and clicking on albums where I liked the name of the band/album or the cover or both/all three. This trail started after I’ve been on something of a deep house kick, which I’ll blog a release or two about presently (expectations be damned! it’s the only thing they’re good for).
It starts off not unlike a slighlty jazzier Our Solar System with added cosmic synths. They subsequently head into more of an acid-house territory, though, squelchy basslines and woozy synths a go-go, an increasingly Nortec-with-crazier-saxophones kind of feel. If it isn’t reminiscent of the soundtrack to late night Tijuana, then I’ve never been to Tijuana (sidebar: I’ve never been to Tijuana), though I suppose it could be any large settlement in the tropics (sidebar: I’ve never been to the tropics). I am always really disappointed when it ends.
Their first album is very nearly as good. It was also nominated for some well known (in the UK) prize or other, which might go some way to explaining why music this good actually seems to have an audience. The times they might be a-darkening, but where there’s music this good around, there is always hope.
We interrupt this day at work to write a hasty blog post in my tea break about this group who have just been brought to my attention courtesy of Isiah Mitchell’s Trippy Jam blog, which may go long periods without updates but is guaranteed to drop some gems your way if you keep it on your radar.
3rd Ear Experience do that improvisational space rock cosmic groove thing that you need in your life. I’m reminded of Our Solar System, whom I obvioulsy love in a way mere words cannot capture, and also (a mellower) Ozric Tentacles. These are not short tunes. They are recorded on the outskirts of a desert, and a desert has no time for pop music as any fule kno.
The particular album I’ve embedded is a couple of years old, and doesn’t have the tune that was on the Trippy Jam post, so I’ll be trying to track that down in order to wistfully stare at it too.
Also, 3rd Ear Experience number Doug Pinnick from Kings X among their ranks. Now, I used to listen to Gretchen Goes to Nebraska quite a lot back in the early 90s, round about the same era that I listened to Tribe a lot. Around the time I did the Tribe post I did also wonder about Kings X. Obviously it’s a complete coincidence that this should land, then. Obviously. A. Complete. Coincidence.
Really like this, though, and will be checking out what other stuff I can find by them.
So whilst we’re in Russia, here are the Cosmic Triggers.
This is not wholly unlike Sonora, but a more cosmic sort of space rock, with a kind of 90s feel to some of it. I hear Spiritualized style guitar work, G.O.L. style female vocals overlaying the repetitive, circular rhytms (‘we are all fractals of ourselves,’ she intones at one point, which is right up my alley, philosophically). I hear Thee Open Sex, a little bit of Goat, Verma, a slower Our Solar System, The Myrrors again… you know, I could go on. And I mean that in the best possible way, trying to illustrate that there is now so much brilliant music everywhere, and the fact that they all reference each other – probably without actually trying to do so – is part of a larger point that I may do as a macro-post at one point. These are truly wondrous times we live in.
You know, I don’t think this is the best time of year to be saying what my favourite albums of last year were. I mean, I have literally just tried out a bit of the Heron Oblivion album, and my first instinct is that if I’d have got on that when it came out, it would be vying for a place in the list below. And my list last year didn’t give anywhere near enough prominence to Pridjevi and Anna von Hausswolff, mainly because I’d not long got on them – they were to dominate my early 2016. Maybe I should do it at the end of the academic year instead?
We humans do seem to like lists, though, especially those that seem to quantify things. In fact, I suggest a hypothesis – we love lists all the more if their subject matter is inherently subjective and unquantifiable (which is waaaaay more things than you may currently believe).
A funny thing happened to me in 2016. Well, lots of things happened, but this one in particular was that after I put out my album in April, thus finishing a series, I stopped listening to heavy music. Just wasn’t in the mood. There were exceptions – Hey Colossus released a wonderful EP that I mentioned in my summer chat post that isn’t an album but is good enough to be on some sort of year end so at least I’m mentioning it now, and there were a couple of later releases mentioned below, and now that I think about it, Anna von Hausswolff.
This may seem like an order, but it is malleable. Take it all with however much salt you deem appropriate.
Our Solar System – In Time. This album is perfect. Jazzy-Funky-Mellow-Spacerock. Most played album of the year from this year.
Karina Vismara – Casa Del Viento. Acoustic female singer-songwriter isn’t usually my thing. Only, this is wonderful. The vibe is magnificent, as is the songwriting.
Fire! Orchestra – Ritual. The meat of this album is staggeringly ambitious, but doesn’t lose sight of its tribal nature. The sort of trance-like jazz that just doesn’t happen often enough.
Horse Cult – Daydreams and Nightmares. The top 4 of this year could easily all be the winner in their own right, and this is another acoustic one. Like a more medieval/folksy Espers, but again with brilliant content behind the style.
Menimals. In a way I’m using both albums for this entry, saving me repeating it below, because one was pre-this year but I discovered it looking for the later one. Dark and menacing but not depressingly so.
Jon Mueller – Tongues. Another two track album and another with ritualistic drumming and chanting. Pounding trance music.
Narcosatanicos – Body Cults. As mentioned above, not much heavy did a lot for me. This was an exception, and I loved it because it is so very much like their first album, and at the same time it isn’t. I love it when bands do that.
Black Bombain and Peter Brotzmann – Free-jazz meets improvised psych-rock, with frequently brilliant passages.
Scroll Downers – Hot Winter. Sort of grungey indie-rock, I suppose. I realise that doesn’t sell it. They call themselves both ’90’s’ and ‘not 90’s’ so I think they might have trouble with a description, too. However, it is yet again the songwriting that does it, and it also sounds like they had a blast making it.
City of Djinn – Ether and Red Sulphur . I was going to just miss this out because I was worried it was still a bit too fresh but I listened to it again and it was blissed out brilliant, trance music.
Just missed out:
From before 2016
Pridjevi – For me, 2016 was utterly dominated by Pridjevi, helped also because my now 10-year old son has got with the groove on 2 of their tracks as well, and car trips went through a phase of him playing Pozuri Polako on repeat, which must have spent roughly 3 months in the summer going around my head non stop. Far more preferable to his other taste at the time, Goblins From Mars.
Anna von Hausswolff – The only album that came close to the dominance of Pridjevi in the first half of 2016. Not a concept album but sounds like one because of its wonderful atmosphere. That organ sound is transcendent. I keep forgetting how heavy this actually is.
Sungod – One of those all-over-the-map kind of artists. Kind of a less proggy Ozric Tentacles, if you want an inacurrate but
lazy easy comparison.
Big Blood – This band have such a huge back catalogue, and this year has seen me mining the earlier years of it, which were just as good as the later years, but a bit different, naturally. They don’t seem to have done much this year. I noticed on their blog about an album coming out on Turned Word records, but that’s been up for ages and there seems to be no sign. Also, where are Turned Word records? They seem to have no presence since 2012.
Phil Cohran & Legacy. This thing took me by surprise, but probably shouldn’t have. It is stunningly beautiful music.
Pharoah Overlord – Lunar Jetman. Mainly because of the second track, which appeared via a Dusted magazine listing, but the whole album turned out good too. They seem to have finally got with the idea of easier access to their albums though the discography is incomplete.
Bitchin Bajas – Vibraquatic. Really mellow and meditative, and amongst the most regularly played albums of the year.
Gram Rabbit – Braised and Confused. Reading my original post, I’m struck by how much I seem to want to justify the fact that this album is fun. It is fun. But that doesn’t need justification.
Death Blues – Non Fiction. Part of Jon Mueller’s ongoing project, which I’d completely forgotten about since the first Death Blues album came out, so I’ve been trying to catch up when I get the chance. If anything, I like this even more than Tongues.
Fela Kuti – I returned to Fela Kuti, particularly Zombie, and have been playing his stuff regularly since the summer. It was brought on by the B-side of a single by Goat which had a really snaky groove but was only 3 and a half minutes long. I was instatntly reminded of Fela, and had a hankering for that kind of groove, but not the shortened version so I’ve been a regular visitor ever since. I also bought He Miss Road which is frankly wonderful.
Nudity is God’s Creation – This issue came out this year, but the music is from mid way through last decade. Yet another reason year end lists are crap, and yet here I am writing one which is taking me a lot longer to write than it will take you to read. Another reason I didn’t put it in the main list is because I didn’t like the bonus tracks much. They were obviously unreleased for a reason.
So. In conclusion, that’s it.
I’ve not discovered any moment shaking stuff for a while, but to be fair I’ve mostly been listening to 4 or 5 albums repeatedly. However, I had this thought whilst mowing the lawn earlier and felt the urge to share:
Music is the interface between living in the moment and eternity.
So the albums I’ve been utterly swimming in are Pridjevi’s debut (you should hear me trying to sing Pjesma o drveću to myself as I walk given that I don’t know any Croatian), Anna von Hausswolff’s The Miraculous, Our Solar System‘s In Time and Matchess‘ Somnaphoria. I’ve also visited Zulus, Rise of the Echo Drone and Big Blood quite regularly. Also I’ve discovered Oneida’s Brah Tapes series, which is wonderful because Oneida. Yet another also: I’m playing Dreamtime and I love them.
However, today has been a good day to be in Leicester. The atmosphere is incredible.
And I’ve just had a most intense deja vu thing happen as I was editing the links.