Coming from the same band naming tradition as Mr Mister, Aussie band Mt. Mountain bring you a far more palatable laid back groove.
Dust is four tracks of fairly mellow psych-desert sounds, with one explosive exception around 11 minutes into the opening title track, itself an epic 17 minutes long and clearly the centre-piece and foundation of the album. The build-up is one of my favourite musical things, the pulse and the groove are really good. It’s laid back, but not in a sleepy way – you can definitely feel the impending climax. It actually reminds me a bit of certain 90s Goa-style sounds at their more ambient end. Before the guitars kick in, anyway.
The most obvious reference point to these ears is The Myrrors, so if you like them, do check these out.
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.
Methinks somebody has been reading their Carlos Castaneda.
Sonora are from Russia, which also plays home to Gnoomes, who my friend loves in an unhealthy way, and also the artist of the next post that will follow this one in some time frame or other, depending on how interrupted I get by the kids.
Musically, this is a very spacey, desert-rock sort of vibe. I’m mostly put in mind of a slightly crunchier The Myrrors without the flutes, or a mellower Dreamtime, with the circular and cyclical riffs that play such a large role. It’s instrumental, and that means it has to have something about it in my book. And it is a perfect accompaniment for a slightly bleary-eyed Saturday morning.
The second of the three promos I mentioned what were dead good, like. This is a split release, combining an a group with whom I am totally unfamiliar with a group of whom I am more than slightly familiar.
Centralstodet have been described as Prog rock and as space rock in the whole two reviews I’ve sought out on t’net; I myself put them in that ‘jam band’ genre on the basis of the tunes included here. I might think differently when I hear some of the other stuff. There’s a bit of an edge to what they do, though one man’s edge is another man’s middle, as I once saw a self of mine write. For example, Colour Horizon called an earlier release of theirs ‘harsh,’ but I wonder if he’s ever seen Merzbow live? I have.
The Myrrors only contribute one track, but that one track is 20 minutes of possibly their finest recorded music to date. It is wonderfully spacious, meditative and hypnotic, and I reckon it would soundtrack a mellow initiation ritual in the desert, were such things ever to happen, because obviously assigning such judgements is my area of expertise (I’ve never been to a real desert, though I have been to something called an outback, I don’t think it’s the same thing as there were grasses and bushes and everything).
You can get this on vinyl, if you do vinyl, here.
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.