Zulus II

zulusII is my introduction to Zulus, who also have an album out that isn’t called II, as research on their website has just informed me.

Zulus describe themselves as an attempt at being a pop band by four guys who have since proven clearly unable to write pop songs, which has to be one of the best descriptions I’ve ever seen a band give themselves. They have quite the list of associated acts between them who I have listed in the tags (in case anyone got here because of that and is wondering what this has got to do with anything, a sensation that many of my posts bring out in people).

This is gnarly stuff. I’m reminded of Fugazi and I’m reminded of Puffy Areolas and I’m reminded of Burnt Skull. This is proper in your face, but by god, it doesn’t half get its groove on as well. I’ve been proper eating this up. It’s happy hardcore, in that this is hardcore that makes me happy.

It’s out on Aagoo records, who also brought the wonderful Inutili to us.

 

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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.

Black Bombain – Live at Casazul

To give full credit, this is actually Black Bombain jamming with guitarist Isiah Mitchell, saxophonist Rodrigo Amado and Shela on synths one afternoon during the Milhões de Festa in 2014. bombain

This is recorded directly from the audience, but sounds really rather good for that. Much is made on the few sources I’ve been able to find regarding the abrupt nature of the piece finishing due to police unplugging a guitar, though I can’t say it seemed that abrupt to me as a digital punter.

This marries two of my very favourite things: long improvisational psych with horns. Seriously, more rock artists should embrace the horn, especially those working with looser structures. When done well, it is amongst the best sound combinations there are, at least to these ears. It’s fair to say, though, that the saxophone is an instrument I am becoming more and more fond of.

Also, if you are familiar with Black Bombain’s other marvellous collaboration, Black Gnod, then you’ll most definitely snarf this up (hat tip to Trippy Jam as the blog what did show me Black Gnod.)

 

Destruction Unit – Negative Feedback Resistor

DUIf you like your music obnoxious and gnarly, but not necessarily short, then Destruction Unit are for you. Roaming similar sonic alleys to those frequented by Puffy Areolas and Narcosatanicos (but without the brass), Destruction Unit are very much at home in your face.

I really like their manifesto, you know. Let me quote a line I really like: “This is crazed-psychedelic-freek-noise guerrilla warfare and these are our streets.” Elsewhere, they exhort the breaking of chains and the seeking of your personal freedom, themes this blog wholeheartedly endorses.

But they also provide you with the sonic energy to help fire up your will to achieve said results. They give as they play, they’re on a mission. What sounds like chaos is just them rendering all the bullshit into its constituent parts and giving it back to the listener in a much more highly useful form. We owe these warriors, let us give them their due salutations.

Narcosatanicos

As will no doubt become apparent to the more regular reader that may find their way here, my philosophy of attempting to describe music using words is broadly the same as my philosophy of describing anything that isn’t words using words – it can only ever be a guideline at best. Part of this minimalist approach to music ‘reviews’ is inspired by Tiny Mix Tapes and other such sites – why not just submit your work to the International Journal of Cultural Studies and be done with it? Quoting French philosophers is simply a way of saying you don’t know how to describe something. As is inventing new genres so that you can seem like an authority on something (I’m looking at you, Vaporwave).

So, to the point then: I really, really, really like this album by this band. It is loud, it is aggressive, it is repetitive, and it is not for the faint hearted. It has a saxophone in the mix which really works and makes me think the word ‘skronk’ even though I have no idea what it means. It always makes me feel energised and positive after listening to it, which you may not necessarily think from something that tries to describe itself as being the aural documents of a bad trip.

Nearest reference point that I can think of – Puffy Areolas in discussion with Monoshock. What?

Guess I can feel at least two more future posts coming on…