Posts Tagged With: constellation records

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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CST006: Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada

According to the website Rate Your Music, Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s Slow Riot For New Zerø Kanada is the highest rated EP amongst its users. When thinking of EP releases, I can think of many that have grabbed my attention in many different ways, but none quite like this. It’s perhaps a very tall claim, but the material presented on this EP release from Godspeed is nothing short of phenomenal, and arguably remains some of their best work to this present day. In short, some people may have their own favourite EPs, but for the most part I agree with the users of Rate Your Music.

First half offers us ‘Moya’, a slow-building monolithic post-rock experience that perhaps foreshadows much of the band’s later material. On the album’s second half ‘BBF3’, we get more of that style we’ve become familiar with from listening to the band’s debut effort, where the band’s post-apocalyptic style is accompanied by an vox pop interview with a stranger calling himself Blaise Bailey Finnegan III. The angry politically charged rant discussing America at the time of the recording  feels as eerie and unsettling in this current day and age. It’s akin to being part of the audience to sign-wearing doomsayers marching the streets. Very much fitting in with the various members of Godspeed’s own political opinions and worries, all translated into this stark yet beautiful apocalyptic music.

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CST006: Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Slow Riot For New Zerø Kanada

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CST002: Sofa – Grey

The first real meaty release from Constellation, the dark and unsettling GreyLeaping off comfortably from the preceding 7″ single release of New Era Building, this is where we feel the full force and ferocity of Sofa. Mixing frantic and frenzied mania; tracks where the band launch a mentally anguished assault  in with slower passages of quiet contemplation, we as listeners are thrown deep into the psyche of the band. Brad Todd’s deep and dark vocals give a real edge to the music as it snarls and spits or crumbles and croons.

This perhaps feels like a band who’ve translated their own generation’s concept of fury, anguish and torment into their own branch of music, drawing influence from the music they no doubt grew up with years preceding the recordings of even their debut efforts. Though how does it all fit into Constellation Records repertoire? Arguably… it doesn’t really. It’s a bit of an outlier amongst the post-rock and experimental records the label have continually pushed out, with it being a messy lo-fi noisy barrage of post-punk and math-rock. It’s pretty miserable, but in that good cathartic way.

This release was the last for Sofa. Guitarist and co-founder of Constellation Records Ian Ilavsky will pop up again amongst various recordings, as well as part of the experimental electronic sound-collage duo re:.

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CST002: Sofa – Grey

 

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CST001: Sofa – New Era Building

 

 

Summed up by Constellation Records as ‘ground zero in the Constellation catalogue‘, the description for such a recording couldn’t be more apt. Our beginnings with this label is a dark mysterious force, one that feels very loose in its Slint-esque structures, though still manages to pack in its own branch of ferocity. With two tracks, it’s not much to really go on, but it does serve as a strong introduction to this short-lived band, and perhaps add more intrigue than to what their effort Grey offered (at the very least, it shows more to the band than what one release ever could do). Whilst interesting in its own right though, it’s perhaps in how loose it all is that we feel why this release doesn’t quite live up to the same level as Grey did, though for humble beginnings, it’s certainly an intriguing record, one that feels almost enigmatic in the label’s roster. Arguably, nothing particularly noteworthy but perhaps shouldn’t be dismissed.

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CST001: Sofa – Grey

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Lost Voices – Esmerine

Canadian group Esmerine’s 2013 album effort of ‘Dalmak’ came across as an incredibly concise and impressive musical experience, one showing the chamber-pop band as one that has evolved from its early roots into one willing to explore new ideas and indulge in creative concepts. The groups latest album effort ‘Lost Voices’ continues this reign of impressive musicianship, with the band offering up another beautiful and haunting album experience. It seems on their last album Esmerine really found their footing in their music, and have now found a way to channel it all into an incredibly cohesive and well constructed format, resulting in some of the best albums of their career.

‘Lost Voices’ continues much of what Esmerine established on ‘Dalmak’, though the whole effort seems to take more steps forward than its predecessor. It seems the band are offering a new chapter in their repertoire,  with ‘Lost Voices’ displaying more creative ideas and ingenuity. Whilst beautiful string melodies help form character in the tracks, its the use of electric guitars that anchors most of the album together, creating a drive that hasn’t really been seen on previous Esmerine albums. There’s somewhat of a sinister and dark edge to a few of the tracks, though the fragile beauty we know of Esmerine still remains apparent in most of the songs.

Esmerine’s wonderful and delicate touch on music is hard to fault, with the realization and execution of the project coming across brilliantly on the album itself. Everything feels incredibly well crafted, with such care and attention going into each track in terms of their structure and pace. The Middle-Eastern influence that formed much of the basis on ‘Dalmak’ seems to been removed on ‘Lost Voices’, though this makes the album a much different character, showing that Esmerine have much more to offer in their music than what a single album suggests.

It seems Esmerine have managed to follow up what was easily their strongest album with an album that easily comes across as having equal strength to its predecessor. The new concepts and ideas Esmerine explore come across so naturally, and yet there are so many complexities to the album that those who enjoy listening to every little detail in every second will find ‘Lost Voices’ to keep delivering with each and every listen. This is truly beautiful music in every sense of the word, even when there is some feelings of worry and fear being injected to the songs, it comes with its own achingly beautiful edge, certainly making the album itself one of the best this year.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Neighborhoods Rise
  • A River Runs Through This City
  • 19/14
  • Funambule (deus pas de Serein)

Esmerine’s latest album ‘Lost Voices’ is out now on Constellation Records.

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Jerusalem In My Heart – If He Dies, If If If If If If

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Producer, musician and composer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh follows on with the physical releases of his Jerusalem In My Heart project with the release of his sophomore album effort ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’, featuring Moumneh and various guests on sound, and Charles-Andre Coderre tackling the visual components (including the album artwork). Following on from his 2013 debut album effort of ‘Mo7it Al-Mo7it’, Moumneh continues his efforts of combining traditional Arabic musical techniques and motifs into modern and experimental sounds, painting up a phenomenal and driving album experience expressing political and personal concepts. The core of Arabic performance styles run dominant throughout the album, much like the debut album, though this time much more deconstructed in places, combined with new and unusual techniques to create a challenging yet cohesive album experience.

‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ sees Moumneh really immersing himself into a musical project, using his many skills and techniques to really push forward a creative album effort. Anchored by traditional motifs, we see a truly Arabic album experience become morphed and re-designed into something both modern and new. By using experimental techniques, and a number of guest musicians including Pierre-Guy Blanchard (whose debut album on Constellation Moumneh recorded mixed and produced) on percussion, and Constellation Records founder Ian Ilavasky on guitar, Moumneh pushes forward a record that blurs the lines in terms of creating and approaching music. Western and Arabic music become parallel on the album, everything sounding incredibly cohesive, all complimenting and challenging each other at different turns.

From their evocative live performances to their challenging albums, Jerusalem In My Heart have shown great strength in their resolve to incorporate experimental techniques in a strong and understood way. Those familiar with Moumneh’s work, both as a producer and composer will most likely know of the almost inaccessible motifs of his many projects, and whilst this shows Moumneh as a wonderfully creative and expressive artist, it does result in ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ becoming an album that is limited to a very few people. With Moumneh’s constant challenging of music structure and technique, it’s no wonder why this album can feel so inaccessible at times.

Moumneh’s latest work is one that pushes forward the creative artists talents and techniques to great levels. The project’s debut album established an innovative act who had a clear understanding of what they want to achieve in their music. ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ shows the project as being even more ambitious and creative as their debut suggested, with there being great strides taken to really push forward a phenomenal and powerful album effort. Those who are open to music of an experimental nature, techniques that combine various cultures and differing genres will find ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ to be an incredibly pleasing and rewarding album, and one that definitely challenges for all the right reasons.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • A Granular Buzuk
  • 7ebr El 3oyoun
  • Ta3mani; Ta3meitu
  • Ah Ya Mal El Sham

Jerusalem In My Heart’s second studio album ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ is out now on Constellation Records.

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Ought – Sun Coming Down

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Canadian alternative-rockers Ought seem eager to jump back into the world of physical releases with their sophomore album effort of ‘Sun Coming Down’. Following on from last years release of the bands’ debut album ‘More Than Any Other Day’, and the vinyl-only EP release of ‘Once More With Feeling…’, Ought have busied themselves with extensive touring, immersing themselves in the world and establishing themselves as an indie-rock band who one should really keep an eye on. There’s a wonderful chemistry and charisma to Ought’s music, all of which helps to push forward a persona of eagerness to really get out there and become something great.

‘Sun Coming Down’ continues the band’s path of indie-rock music, featuring wonderful instrumentation ranging from the manic and hurried paces of the bands’ debut effort, to the slowly unfurling instrumental spaces, adding character and personality to the band’s music. Everything stands well on the bands’ previous outputs, with the new album even sounding a little more experimental in certain sections, really showing off some of the bands’ true capabilities. Everything feels incredibly well envisioned, with Ought recognizing what they want to take forward and what they want to leave behind in the creation of their band persona.

Ought have taken many great steps in crafting their personality in their music. The incredible efforts of Ought in terms of the work they do and the music itself, have pushed forward this band as an incredibly hard working and exciting one, who are really trying to do something with themselves. Whilst ‘Sun Coming Down’ comes forward as another incredible effort, it should be noted that there’s an almost more manic and mad pace to most of the tracks, sounding almost looser and less intricate as the bands’ debut effort. Whilst this may disappoint some, it also comes across as Ought taken further steps to craft themselves, showing off everything they’re capable of with every release.

Since their debut, Ought have come across as an incredibly exciting band, one who are taking incredible steps in their reach. It seems with every bit of news about the band, Ought are just getting better and better, really presenting themselves as one of the strongest musical acts working in their genre. Ought just exude this incredible energy and charisma with their music, with ‘Sun Coming Down’ coming across as another incredibly strong album from this incredibly strong band. With more music like this coming from the band, one will definitely want to keep a closer eye on them, anticipating whatever is going to come next.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Passionate Turn
  • Sun’s Coming Down
  • Beautiful Blue Sky
  • Never Better

Ought’s second studio album ‘Sun Coming Down’ is out now on Constellation Records.

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Never Were The Way She Was – Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Saxophonist Colin Stetson teams up with his partner Sarah Neufeld for the release of their collaborative album effort ‘Never Were The Way She Was’. Featuring Neufeld on violin and Stetson performing his powerful saxophone melodies recording without overdubs, the new album release showcases the incredible talent from these two Canadian musicians, coming across as one of the most essential releases both artists have released thus far in their extensive careers. Powerful blasts of saxophone layers like the breathing of an engine accompany the haunting notes of violin, resulting in some of the most creative music ever recorded by two individuals.

‘Never Were The Way She Was’ sees the incredible power of Neufeld and Stetson being combined in incredible ways, resulting in a musical experience that neither artist could achieve on their own. Incredibly powerful multiple layers of saxophone accompany haunting yet beautiful violin performances, resulting in a powerful listening experience that is both impossible to ignore or forget. Much of the album comes across as dark and foreboding, utilizing the deep notes of saxophones and the high-pitched notes of violins to create a symbiotic musical experience, where everything stands out amongst itself, whilst harmonizing with each other perfectly.

Like both Stetson and Neufeld’s solo album releases, ‘Never Were The Way She Was’ features a very experimental edge, and one that brings with it an almost inaccessible quality to the album. The music featured on the album can at times feel like rather challenging work to listen to, though one that ultimately gives those open to the experimental edge a wonderful listening experience. The underlying concept of both Stetson and Neufeld’s methods in compositon might also be a bit difficult to get one’s head around, though it results in some of the most powerful and impressive experimental music.

‘Never Were The Way She Was’ features many elements one might expect from either Neufeld or Stetson, though it hardly makes the whole album experience any less impressive. Both artists have pushed out their own respective talents to great lengths on their debut collaborative album, one that features the best of each artists own branch of music. Although much of the album feels rather dark for the most part, there’s also a wonderful beauty to much of the music, mostly in how Stetson and Neufeld combine their instruments and their own voices in unusual yet harmonious ways. This is certainly a powerful album, and one is certainly required listening for the fans.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Sun Roars Into View
  • Won’t Be A Thing To Become
  • With The Dark Hug Of Time
  • Never Were The Way She Was

Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld’s collaborative album ‘Never Were The Way She Was’ is out now.

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‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ – Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Three years after the release of the very surprising and phenomenal album ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend’, Canadian instrumental-rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor offer up their latest album release ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’. The new album sees Godspeed You! Black Emperor reworking their highly impressive 40-minute track known as ‘Behemoth’ into one cohesive and structured album experience, with the performance being divided up into four separate tracks. There’s an incredible energy to ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’, one that sees energy being channelled in some rather unusual though incredibly pleasing ways. At times, the new album is a little polarizing, though this is perhaps a piece of work showcasing the band at arguably their most creative.

Certain elements of ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ are to be expected of course, mostly in the opening of the album which offers incredible guitars set to impressive violins and backed up by a slow marching drum beat. Elements of the music feel incredibly familiar to previous Godspeed You! Black Emperor material, though presented and fashioned up in a wholly different way. Everything feels incredibly bombastic and large, utilizing the talents of many musicians to create a glorious musical experience, before stripping everything away until driving tones push forward at a slow pace, offering up something different, slightly inaccessible and utterly engrossing. It’s mostly an odd album experience, though one that is cohesive in presenting a full album experience where everything works well with each other.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor have certainly pushed out an interesting and exciting album effort on ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’, though there’s a few polarizing elements which could alienate a few fans of the band. Previous albums from the band have certainly explored areas of drone music, though it seems it’s been pushed forward to a much greater extent on the bands’ new album, resulting in an album experience that greatly differs from what one would normally expect from the band. It is perhaps off putting to certain fans, though there’s still something phenomenal and interesting being presented by the band, who showcase even more creative ideas and techniques.

‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ is certainly an enjoyable album effort, though it perhaps fails to really reach the same heights as some of its predecessors. With that being said though, it is hardly an album to be dismissed entirely, as it is representative of new styles and new techniques from the band, who flesh out experimental concepts into full formed ideas, all coming together wonderfully in the form of an impressive album experience. Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s wonderful style of instrumental rock might never follow any distinct style between albums, but there is always something amazing being presented by the band.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Peasantry or ‘Light Inside of Light
  • Lamb’s Breath
  • Piss Crowns Are Trebled

Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s fifth studio album ”Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress” is out now.

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Skullsplitter -Eric Chenaux

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Over the years Eric Chenaux’s albums have bordered lands where unusual experimental elements intertwine into beautiful sonic layers of singer-songwriter structures. Chenaux’s latest effort ‘Skullsplitter’ continues along the same groundwork established on his 2012 album ‘Guitar & Voice’, which saw Chenaux reworking a few tracks from his earlier releases, as well as offering some new compositions, and a cover of ‘My Romance’. ‘Skullsplitter’ gently soars though with beautiful idiosyncratic melodies, highlighting the incredible talent of Chenaux in offering music that is different, though ultimately beautiful.

‘Skullsplitter’ follows much of the same format as Chenaux’s previous release ‘Guitar & Voice’, featuring Chenaux in a solo position on his album, working his magic intertwining unusual musical structures with his own vocal style. Chenaux offers up re-interpretations of some of his earlier works, as well as some new compositions, all of which work together to form the experience that is ‘Skullsplitter’. Underneath the layers of semi-improvisation and experimental technique is a core of beauty that drives the album forward, making it a gorgeous and rewarding album experience that truly cements Chenaux’s wonderful and unique style of music.

Chenaux’s very unique style is one that is perhaps a little difficult to swallow at times. The semi-improvisational techniques, combined with unusual experimentation results in oddly structured music, unlike music we know and are familiar with. Those who are unfamiliar with Chenaux’s work might find it somewhat inaccessible and perhaps shy away from what Chenaux is aiming to push out. Those who are fans of Chenaux, or even open to this style of experimentation will find ‘Skullsplitter’ to be a work of unfathomable beauty, and perhaps one of Chenaux best albums to date.

‘Skullsplitter’ is perhaps a little odd at times in terms of format and structure, though it’s through these unusual techniques we see Chenaux really pulling out all the stops, building up music that is nothing short of gorgeous. Everything Chenaux worked into ‘Guitar & Voice’ has traveled along into his latest release, cementing a new style of Chenaux’s that places him firmly in the foreground, showcasing every ounce of talent in tremendous amounts. Chenaux seems to be establishing a wonderful style of music on his latest releases, one that builds up much more than his earlier works for Constellation Records. Perhaps this is a continuing style we’ll be honored with once again in the future. One certainly hopes so.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Have I Lost My Eyes?
  • Spring Has Been A Long Time Coming
  • Poor Time
  • Summer & Time

Eric Chenaux’s latest album ‘Skullsplitter’ is out now, available through Constellation Records.

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