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CST007: Sackville – The Principles of Science

I’ve always felt that Constellation Record’s output generally consists of music that’s a little outside the norm. Even in a genre that in my personal opinion, feels mostly rigid, the bands in question still find room to breathe and throw in their own stylistic flair. The result is something more accessible and gentle than what we may now be used to from this label.

The Principles of Science remains Sackville’s only release on Constellation Records. The release seems to be the first to stray away from the incredibly experimental roots of (arguably) unconventional music, in favour of a more approachable folk style. The band, lead by Gabe Levine’s gentle vocal style and delicate acoustic performance, still find ways to throw in different ideas and concepts, offering something that feels distinctly folk, without simply sounding like another run-of-the-mill folk record. The result is a very gentle and fragile record that feels uplifting and moving as we move across its five tracks. A sense that feels a little bit at arms with the more moody and sometimes grim sound we’ve seen prior.

This EP release perhaps makes sense of some of Constellation Records future additions to the roster (Eric Chenaux, Siskiyou, Elfin Saddle and of course, Vic Chesnutt), who also offer their own refracted viewpoint on the folk genre.

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CST007: Sackville – The Principles of Science

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Hymns – Bloc Party

Following the release of their fourth studio album weirdly titled ‘Four’ for some reason, Bloc Party front-man Kele Okereke embarked on a remarkably memorable solo endeavor that we all might struggle to remember. This seem to signal the end of Bloc Party, which seemed a shame at the time, but didn’t really seem to have any lasting negative impact and was thus forgotten. Lucky for us all, Bloc Party have returned, or most of Bloc Party, as we now have a new line up consisting of Kele Okereke, Russel Lissack, Justin Harris & Louise Bartle. So does this mean more of that punchy kick-ass indie-rock sentiment we know and love Bloc Party for? Sadly not.

‘Hymns’ is Bloc Party’s return to music, seeing the new line-up attempt to redesign themselves as a band for these modern times, where indie-rock is no longer acceptable and where everyone everywhere likes more synthetic elements. It can work at times, and even ‘Hymns’ has its moments with its few enjoyable tracks. Okereke’s vocal talents are certainly on top once again, with the falsetto being his sure-fire way to bring something to the music. There’s even some nice moments featuring Lissack’s guitar work which is… good?

It seems that Bloc Party have failed to effectively re-work themselves into a new band. Their pale attempt at concocting modern tunes with falsetto vocals and wub-wub synthetic elements come across as a poor imitation of better music. There’s nothing wrong with reinvention, and perhaps some people will enjoy this new branch of Bloc Party, but it just seems to be horribly cliched and trite to be effective and enjoyable. Everything struggles to move along, with nothing ever seeming to stand out in any way or form. Most tracks seem to sound down-tempo and dull, with Okereke being the only one who is allowed to stand out, despite failing to do so.

Perhaps the nostalgia of Bloc Party’s earlier efforts have worn off, and the band are sadly no longer that great indie-rock band you enjoyed all those years ago. ‘Hymns’ comes across as a very poor work from a band who have produced better, with it being arguably worse than their last studio album. Bloc Party seem to have just lost themselves and their way, and don’t really know how to achieve the standard they themselves set all those years ago. You can make reinventing your band work, but at this point there’s barely anything here making ‘Hymns’ an album worth listening too. Maybe loyal fans will attach themselves to ‘Hymns’, but deep down they all probably know it’s not really as good as it all could be.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆  2/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Love Within
  • The Good News
  • Living Lux

Bloc Party’s fifth studio album ‘Hymns’ is out now.

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Rattle That Lock – David Gilmour

Veteran guitarist David Gilmour follows on from the surprising and somewhat polarizing Pink Floyd album release last year with the release of his fourth studio album ‘Rattle That Lock’. The new album sees Gilmour offering up a contemporary and easy listening album experience, one that doesn’t really challenge listeners in any way, but instead just accompanies them in their evening. Gilmour’s latest album contains many elements that one would expect from the performer, though it feels as though the whole overall effort is lacking in some way, failing to really live up to the strong standard Gilmour has presented previously.

On ‘Rattle That Lock’, we see Gilmour dialing the tone down somewhat, perhaps more-so than his previous solo endeavor ‘On An Island’. Most of the music feels very relaxed and gentle, with there being few rock elements on the record though compensated for by full and rather rich instrumentals, all backed up by the addition of some nice musicians including Jools Holland, Roger Eno, and even Canadian Saxophonist Colin Stetson on a track. At times there are some nice collaborations from various people on this record, bringing something out of the whole experience.

Sadly though, it seems not enough has been done on ‘Rattle That Lock’ to make a truly enjoyable album experience. So many elements on the album come crashing down, making it a struggle to really enjoy. Polly Sampson’s lyrics come across as awfully clichéd and contrived at times, more so than on previous Gilmour solo albums. Everything just feels very weak and hollow, with there being nothing to inspire the listener the way any previous Gilmour effort has done so. It all seems a little muddled at times, as though there’s no real leader spearheading the project in the right direction.

Gilmour has managed to showcase himself as an accomplished performer, but even his performances on ‘Rattle That Lock’ seem lackluster and contrived. Much of the effort doesn’t really feel like a Gilmour record, and whilst this might argue that there’s a conscious effort to create something different to his old material, the fact of the matter is that ‘Rattle That Lock’ just doesn’t really work well enough as an album. This is perhaps a good record to just play and stick on without much caring for what is being heard, which is all well and good from time to time, though we know Gilmour is better than that.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆  2/5

Selected Songs:

  • 5 AM
  • Rattle That Lock
  • In Any Tongue

David Gilmour’s latest solo album ‘Rattle That Lock’ is out now.

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Svin – Svin

Svin pave the way for their experimental music notions with the release of their self-titled third album. The new album ‘Svin’ sees the band offering up a phenomenal and unrelenting barrage of psychedelic experimental music, bordering the lines of post-rock and experimental jazz. There’s an incredible energy to ‘Svin’, one that showcases great talent, as well as a real creative streak in producing something just that little bit different. At times, ‘Svin’ might come across as a little aggressive, but it is one that justifies its aggressive elements through brilliant showmanship and creative elements.

On their latest album effort, Svin demonstrate incredible artistic promise. ‘Svin’ offers an Odyssey of musical movements and techniques, showcasing a great range of different styles, all comprised together into one coherent structure.  ‘Svin’ offers up a varied style of instrumental tracks, and whilst from an outsider’s perspective they might seem to be clashing techniques, Svin manage to work everything together into one album experience, where everything seems to warrant its place on the album, whilst keeping everything interesting and exciting. It’s an exciting and exhilarating musical journey, and one that shows the best techniques in experimental notions. There’s a nice variety of heavy tracks partnered with more slower and downbeat ones, keeping the whole album experience refreshing and interesting.

Svin’s option to fuse together different genres works incredibly well, though combined with its rather experimental techniques, it makes the album experience one that is somewhat inaccessible, and perhaps off-putting to die-hard fans of the varying individual genres. Fans of post-rock or math-rock might find the more jazz-orientated tracks on the album somewhat unappealing, or even vice-versa. Some might be put off by Svin’s juggling of various genres, though for the most part it works incredibly well on their self-titled release, showing some incredible creative talent. The only real problem with ‘Svin’ is that it’s an incredibly short album, and one that seems to end just as it gathers up enough momentum.

Svin demonstrate wonderful musical technique on their latest effort, one that excites and sometimes confounds in oddly enjoyable ways. The record is perhaps a little too short at times, though it does result in an album experience where there’s absolutely no dead weight, and each track contributes wonderfully to the album itself. It’s a strong effort that really showcases Svin’s talents as a band, showing their ability to both conform to genre’s, and shape and bend their conventions at will, bringing out new and exciting ideas that haven’t really been explored before by other bands.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Maharaja
  • Alt
  • Fuck John
  • Fede Piger

Svin’s latest album ‘Svin’ is out now.

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Inattendu – Fanny Alexandre

Inattendu cover art

Experimental artist Alexandre St-Onge teams up with his partner Fanny for their collaborative effort ‘Innatendu’, released under the title of Fanny Alexandre. The new release offers up an eclectic mix of experimental notions and ideas, many of which have been explored on previously through other collaborations on previous releases by Alexandre St-Onge. ‘Inattendu’ arguably sees Fanny taking the foreground, offering up ghostly ethereal vocals, accompanied by electronic ambient notions. Those who enjoyed previous Alexandre St-Onge releases such as 2007’s ‘Mon Animal Est Possible’ will find a fair amount to enjoy on ‘Inattendu’, which seems to deploy similar concepts and ideas of experimentation.

There’s a sparse element to ‘Inattendu’, which seems to deploy the briefest of instrumental passages to accompany Fanny’s vocal style. Everything results in a ghostly sounding musical experience, one that feels much more unsettling and sinister than some of St-Onge’s previous releases, though is equally as enjoyable. Many of the elements and techniques used on the EP feel rather held back for the most part, never pouring out into loud moments but instead remaining quiet and intimate, allowing for the music to speak for itself. The sparse elements of the album might disappoint some listeners, who might expect more layers of musical techniques in the music itself, though those open to what both artists are trying to express will more than likely find ‘Inattendu’ and enjoyable listening experience.

There’s very subtle elements to ‘Inattendu’, which comes across as another ethereal and ghostly album experience. At times the album suffers from repetitive qualities between each track, though this also works in favor of the album, tie-ing together each track to present an overall thematic theme.  ‘Inattendu’ is perhaps not St-Onge’s or Fanny’s most ambitious work the two artists have attempted, though there’s still much to enjoy, especially to fans of St-Onge’s very unusual and experimental style.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Tranche
  • Inattendu
  • Terrifiance
  • Genou

Fanny Alexandre’s latest album ‘Innatendu’ is out now.

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Transalpine EP – Paume

First posted on Echoesanddust.com

Electronic House outfit Paume present their debut EP ‘Transalpine’, a record brimming with energy as it progresses along its four tracks. On their new EP Paume opt for a more traditional music setting within the genre they work in, resulting in a short record that features everything that one would expect from the house music genre. There’s an interesting element running throughout the record, anchoring the listener into its setting of older-sounding house as it presents them with electronic beats and synthetic elements that build up the songs effortlessly.

Rather than going for the more ordinary sounding dubstep elements that we often hear within this genre these days, Paume instead go for a somewhat older-sound in their presentation of the house genre, resulting in a record that is easily to get involved with and dance to, without it being too abrasive in any way or form. ‘Transalpine’ is a rather comfortable record that just pushes itself along without insisting or demanding anything from the listener. Some elements present on the record do sadly come across as rather weak though, especially in the rather repetitive qualities presented by the house genre itself. Paume sadly don’t seem to have done a great deal to add variety into the songs on the EP, resulting in an album effort that sadly drags on a little too long.

Paume certainly have some very interesting ideas when it comes to their own branch of house music. Perhaps the music itself is nothing too groundbreaking or wholly amazing, but it is rather nice and quite inoffensive. It would perhaps have been nicer if Paume had composed and presented all of their songs in the same style as the album’s closing track, which features a wonderful medley of instruments, effects and electronic beats. Whilst the album might not make much of a lasting impression or impact, it is certainly enjoyable on quite a few levels.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Transalpine
  • Love Fifteen

Paume’s latest EP ‘Transalpine’ is out now.

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.cut | St-Onge – .cut | St-Onge

Improvisational artists .cut (Albérick) and Alexandre St-Onge team up for a partnered self-titled release, both joining their creative forces together in the form of a singular track which encompasses many elements of the experimental and sound-art. The resulting recording seems to follow on from many of .cut and St-Onge’s previous releases, utilizing the almost ominous hums and hisses of the recording process, as well as a few experimental techniques thrown into the mix. Music this peculiar and particular might struggle to find it’s audience, but those who know and enjoy the music of either artist or both will find a lot to enjoy from these incredibly experimental artists.

‘.cut | St-Onge’ consist of one singular track performed live by both artists, offering a semi-improvised fully-experimental track that expresses great thought and consideration into the complexities of sound itself. Whilst .cut carefully places the layers down that build up the track itself, St-Onge builds upon it with the double-bass, adding much to the track’s structure and appearance. Whilst there’s something enjoyable to those who appreciate experimental sound-art, the track itself is as expected an incredibly inaccessible listen. There’s very little here to appeal to people, though this hardly comes across as a criticism but more as a gentle warning. The recording itself seems to come across as a musical experience that forces us to really perceive the way we actually listen and absorb music itself, making ‘.cut | St-Onge’ a very interesting experience. In terms of the sound being produced, it might just consist of hums and hisses and improvisational double-bass, though this gives the recording its character and (in some odd way) appeal.

.cut & Alexandre St-Onge have managed to produce an incredibly inaccessible and at times incredibly confusing track, but there’s something about the whole experience that is just interesting. The improvisational elements of the music itself gives the whole experience a very unexpected feeling, which works very well with the very ominous and foreboding image that is given off. Yes, everything on the recording is odd and confusing, but that is exactly what both artists in question want to present, and they’ve done it incredibly well, especially for an experimental sound-art performance.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Untitled

.cut | St-Onge’s latest release ‘.cut | St-Onge’ is out now.

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Beautiful Rewind – Four Tet

The seventh solo album by electronic artist Four Tet, features much of Four Tet’s trademark style, all of which is presented in a highly enjoyable electronica/ambient style. ‘Beautiful Rewind’ is the aptly titled latest album by the artist, featuring the many electronica elements that helped to establish Four Tet’s career as a DJ and electronica artist. Utilizing a number of techniques and ideas, Four Tet builds layer upon layer of electronica tracks and layers to form the crux of each track on ‘Beautiful Rewind’. Everything on the record seems to work incredibly well, with the whole effort coming off as one of Four Tet’s more enjoyable records.

As well as the electronica elements we’ve come to know of Four Tet, we also see utilized on ‘Beautiful Rewind’ a number of ambient styles, as well as experimental ideas. There’s a brilliant progression to ‘Beautiful Rewind’ as it moves from track to track, all of which build up their various layers of instrumentals, beats and occasional vocal. Although the album feels like a heavily edited film, with there being a large number of cuts as varying elements are thrown in and out in a matter of seconds, the whole experience comes off as one that is relaxing and enjoyable. Four Tet often introduces a musical motif that helps to carry the songs, and usually one that is rather gentle and enjoyable. Unlike other DJ artists, Four Tet seems to indulge in a more gentle sounding style, giving his work and ‘Beautiful Rewind’ an incredible amount of appeal and enjoyment.

As enjoyable as ‘Beautiful Rewind’ is, it is arguable that a few of Four Tet’s ideas don’t come across a strongly as he might like. At times, a few of the tracks on the album become a little bit gimmicky, with a few techniques sounding like they’re present purely for the sake of it, rather than for the betterment of the song itself. Considering the range and scope of Four Tet as a creative artist, it really feels like there should be more effort being put into the end result of each track, rather than just letting everything sound also semi-improvised. Lucky for Four Tet, the great number of strengths on ‘Beautiful Rewind’ manage to out-shadow the few negatives, but they still remain present on the album.

Four Tet’s latest album is one that is simply enjoyable, and for use of a better word, lovely at times. There’s a nice range of ideas present on the album, with the more gentle ambient tracks being the highlights of the album in particular. It feels like the album lives up to the name it has been presented with, as though the rewind part is representative of Four Tet’s electronica style, and the beautiful simply speaking for itself. There’s a good number of highly enjoyable tracks, each representing many of Four Tet’s greatest strengths. It is arguably one of Four Tet’s more stronger records in his discography, though at the very least it is one of his most enjoyable.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Parallel Jalebi
  • Buchla
  • Unicorn
  • Your Boy Feels

Four Tet’s latest album ‘Beautiful Rewind’ is set for release on 15th October 2013.

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Thea – Splitter

The latest album by Splitter weaves together elements of traditional ambient music with electronica and IDM genres. ‘Thea’ is a rather long, but highly enjoyable album, sounding somewhere between Radiohead & Aphex Twin. There’s a wonderful selection of tracks, which offer a diverse range of varying dynamics and instrumentals. Everything results in a very interesting music experience, where there’s a chance to dance and then slip into a dreamlike coma. There’s a lot of talent being displayed by Splitter, whose album comes across as one that is incredibly strong, and incredibly enjoyable to those who enjoy elements of ambient and electronica music.

‘Thea’ comes across as a very creative album, as it doesn’t seem to (like many albums in the electronica genre) be made up of repetitive tracks that repeat the same structure and sound. Splitter instead offers a more diverse range of sounds, showcasing instrumental dance tracks, and other more ambient tracks. It’s incredibly enjoyable as it seems to bounce of many genres, as different elements become the core genre of the various tracks. Splitter demonstrates not just a good understanding of genres and their capabilities, but also of song-composition. Many of the tracks on ‘Thea’ offer something towards the experience of the album, with there being few songs that don’t add up to the overall experience.

The only limitations on ‘Thea’ is in how Splitter seems to select one to many songs for the album, combined with the rather diverse range, it results in what feels like a compilation of tracks, each with something to offer, but some of which don’t offer enough. At times, things feel a little bit jumbled up and confusing, with perhaps one too many elements being used. In one sense, it showcases a wide range that Splitter uses for their music, but on the other hand it results in albums that feel a little bit like compilation albums, that compile a great many tracks into one overall album experience.

Despite the one or two faults in the album, ‘Thea’ still comes across as a strong and enjoyable album. There’s certainly a lot of capabilities present on the album, showcasing a great amount of talent. Those who enjoy the music of Radiohead might find one or two tracks to be very enjoyable on the album, as would those who enjoy Aphex Twin or even Faithless. There’s certainly a lot on offer by Splitter, where IDM tracks meet up with experimental ambient music in perfect balance. Even though there’s a lot on offer, the whole album still comes across as very strong, and highly enjoyable.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Sleeping
  • The Belt Of Venus (ECET 6°)
  • Crystal Child
  • The First December

Splitter’s latest album ‘Thea’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://splitter.bandcamp.com/album/thea

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Live in KwaZulu – Guy Buttery

Using his own talents as a phenomenal guitar player, Guy Buttery presents a live album that delves deep into the art of instrumental music. Guy Buttery’s style features acoustic guitar playing that sails and soars around varying emotions and depths, offering an incredibly rich and vibrant experience. The live experience of the album seems to add to the music itself, truly showing off Buttery’s sheer amount of talent. It is a brilliant experience, and one that those who enjoy more quiet and relaxing instrumental music, will enjoy.

‘Live In KawZulu’ is very much a typical live-album, in that there’s the somewhat typical inclusion of cheering crowds and occasional chatter from the performer. Sometimes, there’s a bit of a sense with live albums, that it is only really worth hearing if you’re actually there, and thus the notion of the live-album becomes a bit pointless. However, Guy Buttery seems to completely indulge in the strengths that the live-album offers. The album shows off in phenomenal style, the talent he has as a guitarist. Each note builds up and up to the point where it becomes confusing how the tracks are even being played. The live setting implies that there’s no effects or fixes being added on in post-production, and that each song is sounding as it would in any true setting. The nature of the music itself is what helps it work well with the live-album, in that it is music that is truly easy to appreciate being played live. There’s some wonderful dynamics with the types of tracks as well, with some being very upbeat and almost manic to some point, whilst others are much more gentle and tug at emotions.

There’s so much to enjoy on ‘Live In KawZulu’, but the album struggles at times with Buttery’s incredibly energetic style. Each song truly demonstrates the enormous capabilities of Buttery, but a few seem to just drag on, and what first sounds impressive when heard, soon becomes a little bit boring and gimmicky when it is repeated over and over. It is undeniable, that it is impressive, what is being played, but it sometimes feels like there’s only so much on can take, and after a while, it would be nice to hear something different. To an extent, it mostly comes down to preference, and there’s many people who might find a lot to enjoy from these moments, due to their technical nature.

‘Live In KawZulu’ is a wonderful artistic and creative album. It echoes the style of guitarist Andy McKee in many ways, though only in terms of the nature of the music itself. The creativity and talent is all Guy Buttery’s, and it is a talent he can clearly be proud of. The wonderful emotive elements of the live album come through the instrumental music itself, making it a wonderful experience. What is interesting is how at some points, ‘Live In KwaZulu’ doesn’t seem like a live album, and instead sounds like a wonderful studio album. Luckily, there is the righteous cheering of the crowd to remind us of how much we can enjoy the live music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • December Poems
  • Smithfield
  • Half A Decade
  • Fox Hill Lane

Guy Buttery’s latest live album ‘Live In KwaZulu’ is out now, and can be streamed, and purchased on digital or physical copy at: http://guybuttery.bandcamp.com/

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