Monthly Archives: March 2016

Painting With – Animal Collective

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Whacky pop-artists Animal Collective come out with their tenth studio album ‘Painting With’. The new album continues the sonic sound explorative sound so often seen on pretty much any Animal Collective album, utilising electronics to create an almost digital-sounding psychedelic sound. It’s a sound that those who know and love Animal Collective will find themselves completely immersing themselves within, and a sound those will confuse and push away those who have no idea what Animal Collective are trying to do. It’s dumfounding at times, but it’s that special headspace that no other band puts you into that keeps you returning to Animal Collective.

‘Painting With’ seems to abandon the mostly experimental, pure-psychedelic and frankly, more batshit sound of their previous album ‘Centipede Hz’, in favour of a more ‘accessible’ pop sound (or at least as ‘accessible’ as Animal Collective can ever sound’). There’s less otherworldly cosmic blowouts on the new album, which are replaced with more direct and urgent pop tracks. Much of the album seems to harken back to the absurdly popular ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’, mostly in thanks to featuring the same line-up, though perhaps ‘Painting With’ is a little easier on us all, and less of a sonic onslaught.

Maybe this is a criticism of the album. It’s certainly admirable how Animal Collective have produced such a bizarre and incomprehensible sound to such a popular place, but that craziness feels a little lost at times on ‘With Painting’. Some of the time, we’re presented with what feels like a slightly dumbed-down style of Animal Collective, with some tracks feeling mostly forgettable and failing to reach those absurdly dizzying heights of their previous works.  The experimentation that adds that wonderful element to Animal Collective’s greatest works doesn’t really seem to be there this time.

‘Painting With’ is certainly an undeniable Animal Collective experience, one that entertains in such a confusing way, though it is perhaps a little less entertaining than the bands’ previous albums. There’s definitely some enjoyable track featured on the album, songs like opener ‘FloriDaDa’ are far too much fun to deny, whilst ‘On Delay’ features wonderfully layered synthetic elements and vocals that sound rich and delightful. ‘Painting With’ might falter on occasion, and fail to become the new ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ or better yet, the new ‘Feels’, though it is undeniably fun and whacky, which is just what one expects from Animal Collective anyway.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • FloriDaDa
  • Hocus Pocus
  • On Delay
  • Golden Gal

Animal Collective’s latest album ‘Painting With’ is out now.

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rootless – rootless

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The moniker rootless, the platform for which Brooklyn-based Jeremy Hurewitz released his solo music endeavours, offers his latest effort ‘Rootless’. This un-capitalized self-titled release comprises three new tracks, and three remixes of those tracks, each encompassing Hurewitz’s style of ambient post-rock drone set to spoken word dialogues that help to set the tone of the entire work’s body. Hurewitz certainly presents some nice ideas on this latest effort, which sees some good concepts coming together harmoniously, though we are let down by a second half to the album which essentially starts the whole cycle again, albeit a more dull cycle.

The strengths of ‘Rootless’ come from Hurewitz independent style of music composition, which has resulted in a creative and mostly enjoyable form of post-rock whilst also encompassing styles of ambience and psychedelic. Hurewitz’ spoken word helps create the setting for the songs, something which is often a struggle in experimental post-rock music. Here though, it is competently achieved, and results in some enjoyable musical passages, where synthetic elements combine comfortably with analogue music to create harmony. It’s a little cosmic and noisy on occasion, but when it works, it works nicely, with there being some lovely and gentle post-rock aesthetics accompanying some fairly interesting poetry.

When it doesn’t work though, it becomes tiresome, and sadly this is due to Hurewitz’s decision to muddy up his album with three remixes of the same three tracks on the first half. Although these remixes do their best to draw out some new elements from the original source material, it just feels entirely unnecessary. We’re essentially made to listen to the entire album all over again from the very beginning, except this time everything is just less colourful and less interesting, making this part of the endeavor pointless. This is helped less by the fact that although most strengths are in the first half, it is let down by this weird element of everything building up, without ever leading up to something. It’s almost as though each track is an introduction to something, though we never find out what it’s trying to introduce.

There’s some merits here and there, and definitely some nice ideas across the album, though there’s a fair amount to wade through before you find anything you might attach yourself too. One might consider the more recent work of Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek, and his spoken word styles accompanied by a variety of different musical genres. There’s definitely some enjoyment to be had here, though the main body of work is far from perfect. It’s certainly nice at times, with there being very enjoyable drone and post-rock elements, though sometimes it feels a little thin on the ground.There’s also that annoying thing where none of the song names are capitalized in a result to make it all feel different and interesting to everything else, personally it just feels annoying and unnecessary.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • buildings on fire
  • the camel and the moon

rootless’ debut album ‘rootless’ is out now.

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Reversal – Takénobu

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Nick Takénobu Ogawa, operating under the moniker of Takénobu, offers his latest solo album ‘Reversal’, released independently by the artist himself. The new album from the artist features his trademark style of modern classical music, layering instrumentals over each other to create rich textural music. ‘Reversal’ comes across as another strong album within a genre where we see can see a lot of flak from those simply doing their bare minimum, and hardly trying to create anything of interest. We can argue that at times, Takénobu is guilty of this, though there’s some lovely moments on ‘Reversal’ that we can attach ourselves too.

‘Reversal’ builds up gentle classical tones in a slightly modern fashion, using current time signatures and methods to create gentle and comfortable soundscapes. It’s in Takénobu’s competent abilities as both a composer and performer do we see the strengths of this album effort. Everything comfortable glides along at a pleasant pace, until we confronted by the more challenging and interesting ideas the record possesses.  Takénobu seems to be trying to break up the monotony of classical records by including various other ideas, including slightly darker and more experimental tracks.

This doesn’t detract from the fact that many of the tracks on ‘Reversal’ fall into the trap we often see on records like this. Many performers of classical instruments, whether it be cello like Takénobu or whatever else you can think of, it seems most people are only able to get one tone and one sound out of their instrument, making most tracks sound too similar to each other, resulting in the same old sluggish album experience we’re so often confronted with. Takénobu has tried to combat this with a few tracks on ‘Reversal’, though it’s perhaps not enough to stop the whole album experience from becoming a little dull at times.

Though the whole album itself becomes a flawed listening experience, we’re still offered some very nice ideas from a clearly talented composer who definitely has some nice ideas to offer. The album’s third track ‘Curtain Call’ definitely has some merits with its more modern approach to composition, mostly down to its inclusion of vocals. Certain elements come across as a little cheesy perhaps, but it still remains an enjoyable listen, and definitely a highlight from the album itself. This is perhaps one of those albums where you’ll find yourself ignoring the more forgettable tracks, but definitely enjoying the more memorable ones.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Reversing
  • Curtain Call
  • Snow Day
  • Swimmin’

Takénobu’s latest album ‘Reversal’ is out now.

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Never Had A Dream – Hunck

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If you happened to go see The Polyphonic Spree perform their debut album ‘The Beginning Stages…’ in its entirety last year in London, and you’re the kind of person who gets early to things just to get to the front, then you most likely saw support act Hunck perform. Now, go back further. Did you happen to see Polyphonic Spree in London sometime in June 2014? First support band was The Plastic Dots, the now old-band of lead singer Frederick Tyson-Brown. Very exciting, but what does it mean?

It probably means Tyson-Brown got bored of performing noisy shoegaze and instead evolved his sound to include a more synth-pop element, thus forming the new band Hunck. The band have released their debut EP ‘Never Had A Dream’, featuring all the wonderful hits that we all know so very damn well, or at least those of us with half a memory from those few gigs we can actually remember.

Lucky for fans of the group, the songs heard live at these gigs have been recreated pretty much note for note for their first EP, so if you’re one of the people straining to remember what it all sounded like, just boot up EP and send yourself off down memory lane. Perhaps though, you’d rather not, for Hunck certainly know how to shape everything nicely, from their instrumentals to their vocals in order to create an accessible shoegaze sound, but damn if there is anything actually interesting going on here. There’s a lack of that great spark that makes us want to connect to the music.

Hunck definitely have tried to do something for their debut EP, but they have failed to actually produce something of true interest. It’s not unpleasant; it just passes by without impinging noticeably on your attention. Most likely fans of The Polyphonic Spree will see Hunck again if they make their rounds back to London. Could be worse I guess.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆  2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Never Had A Dream

Hunck’s debut EP ‘Never Had A Dream’ is out now.

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