Posts Tagged With: debut

CST005: Do Make Say Think – Do Make Say Think

When Constellation Records announced Do Make Say Think would be releasing their first record in 8 years (Stubborn Persistent Illusions), I was suddenly hit with how much I actually missed the band and their output. Across their discography, DMST have released some absolutely stunning albums, ones which stand out in the post-rock genre as positively unique and untouchable. Perhaps it is high praise, but I award them so much due to the fact that so few bands manage to achieve the level of standard DMST achieve in their music. It is truly something else.

The band’s debut album is arguably not the best place to start, but it is definitely essential listening once you have a feel for them. Later albums would see the band trying out many new ideas, producing a sound that is oddly upbeat and joy-inducing for a genre that so often feels miserable and moody. There is upbeat amusement here, notably in the bouncy opening, but it gives way to an oddly unsettling and unusual experience that feels very weird. It’s in that weirdness we find so many incredible ideas and concepts, few of which we really see the general slog of post-rock bands trying. It all culminates into what I feel are the best 20 minutes on any post-rock album, where we as listeners are thrown headfirst into a cosmic jazzy musical voyage into the unknown. It’s a truly weird experience to behold, and one that feels oddly unsettling and scary, but when you allow yourself to just get transported by the music, the result is something transcendental. The textures are to die for, from the pulsating bass notes to the twangs of discordant guitars, rising, swelling, descending, moving, it’s whimsical and bemusing, it’s unsettling yet engrossing.

This review has gotten a little weird I feel, but maybe it’s okay, cause we’re talking about Do Make Say Think here. This here was the launching off point for one of the greatest post-rock bands. Do Make Say Think is a wonderfully stunning debut. One that can completely knock you out and still make you feel oddly calm, like you’ve traveled the entire globe without even leaving your seat. This more experimental and arguably looser sounding DMST might be tough for some people, which is understandable. When it clicks though, by God does it click!

B+

CST005: Do Make Say Think – Do Make Say Think

 

Categories: Constellation Records Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

CST004: Exhaust – Exhaust

I attribute my interest of experimental music to albums like Exhaust’s debut effort. Albums where seemingly odd concepts are melded together into one cohesive vision. On paper, the idea seems weird and unusual, but the result is something that is wonderfully interesting, placing you into this mindset that no other album would ever manage to do. (I’ve been told such observations on experimental music is a ‘cop-out’, but the fact is each experimental album does throw us into something unique, and surely that is worth something?)

Exhaust is certainly an odd machine of an album. Hypnotic rhythmic drums (Aidan Girt) push us along through the moaning of bass clarinets (Gordon Krieger), offset by the occasional sample and/or live reel-to-reel tape distortion (Mike Zabinski), resulting in a very moody and unsettling experience that is wholly intriguing. It all feels incredibly political, all ready to make a statement on issues that feel horribly ignored. Similar works include Aidan Girt’s other projects, from Banukin’s Bum, to Bottleskup Flenkenkenmike, to of course 1-Speed Bike, all of which feature that odd tinkering and reworking of subtle concepts built around kinetic drums and bass. Here on Exhaust, it’s perhaps a bit more easier to digest, though the whole work is one that is dark and moody and wholly unusual. Those interested in Girt’s projects would find Exhaust a good launching off point, as well as 1-Speed Bike, which we’ll come too at some point in the future.

Political albums built around experimental musical concepts? What a weird thing to say out loud… Good thing it works though. It’s unlikely to be the kind of album you’ll want to listen to over and over again, but the experience is definitely note-worthy.

C

CST004: Exhaust – Exhaust

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Minor Victories – Minor Victories

Comprising Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, and brothers Justin and James Lockey, supergroup Minor Victories present their debut self-titled album. The new album comprises many elements from each respective members original groups, offering an incredible shoegaze album experience scattered with remnants of post-rock and indie-rock. At the forefront of the album is Rachel Goswell’s gorgeous vocals, saturated beneath layers of intense guitar and bass that build up phenomenally. Everything equates to an impressive album experience, marred perhaps by the inclusion of particular tracks, but overall serving as a wonderful introduction to this newly founded super-group.

On Minor Victories, we’re presented an powerful album experience, where each respected member utilizes their own skill, bringing a sharp edge to the arguably bloated shoegaze genre. All the basic elements of shoegaze are present on the record, from airy vocals to huge walls of noise that push everything along at an incredible pace. In spite of this, everything feels incredibly fresh and new, with the band drawing many ideas out of the genre and presenting it all in one very well structured and cohesive package. There’s a powerful energy on the album that immediately enters the foreground and refuses to let go, even as it shifts and morphs through different musical passages.

Minor Victories have done a great job at adding a level of diversity to their music, whilst also making it all feel part of some larger story. This ranges from shifting from dynamic tracks to gentler tracks, helping with the flow of the album and preventing it from sounding a little too stagnant. This mostly seems to work until we arrive at ‘For You Always’, featuring Mark Kozelek. Whilst the track itself contains many merits, it seems to disrupt the very strong flow of the album itself, perhaps due to Kozelek’s vocal delivery, which although works well on his own records, feels a little off this time round, as though it is struggling to fit into the dynamic of the album.

Though there’s a few weak moments here and there on Minor Victories, the sheer strengths of the album’s highlights help to elevate this album as one of the strongest releases of this year. Fans of each artist and their respective bands will no doubt find a lot to be enjoyed on this record, which really showcases some of the best elements of each member’s respective talents. With a wonderful range of intensely dynamics tracks to achingly beautiful ones, Minor Victories showcase a great creative streak that has resulted in a wonderful album experience. One only hopes that there’ll be more to come in the future.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Give Up  The Ghost
  • Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)
  • Folk Arp
  • Higher Hopes

Minor Victories’ debut album ‘Minor Victories’ is out now.

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Second Hand War – Thomas Charlie Pedersen

The debut solo album Second Hand War from Vinyl Floor’s lead singer Thomas Charlie Pedersen offers an album experience a little different to what we might be used too from Vinyl Floor’s outlet, but one that is also every bit as accessible and enjoyable. The solo album gives Pedersen the time and space to begin expressing himself, drawing from his own thoughts and experiences in the creation of his first solo record. The result comes across mostly as a quintessential singer-songwriter album, with Pedersen drawing from many influences, but ultimately pushing out a rather intimate and enjoyable album experience.

Whereas Vinyl Floor’s sound characteristally seems to fall into the indie-rock genre, Pedersen strays away from this sound on Second Hand War, instead opting for a more stripped down approach to his song-writing. Anchoring themes of demise, breakups and recovery around a more sparse sound palette, we’re shown a much more intimate side to Pedersen’s music, and perhaps gain an understanding as to why this album has been released as a solo endeavor, rather than with the rest of Vinyl Floor. Much of the music and its content feels important, as though this is something Pedersen feels he has to say at this particular time in his life.

When we look at the bare elements of Second Hand War, we see a rather lovely album marred by a few inconsistencies. Many of the tracks are built up around singular instruments, and whilst this is what Pedersen has been specifically aiming for, it does result in a number of tracks sounding very similar to each other. Whilst the sparse nature of the album allows it to be more intimate, it does feel that Second Hand War could have benefited from some additional input at various places, just to help bring more out of what Pedersen is trying to convey.

Second Hand War is certainly an album of merit for Pedersen, and one that helps showcase many of his talents in a condensed form. Whilst certain elements and creative ideas do lack in certain places, it does seem that when it is working, it’s working well. It might not be as fun and upbeat as what Vinyl Floor fans might be used too, but it seems to be an important album for Pedersen. Whether this is simply a one-time thing for the artist, or whether we’ll see some more forays into solo-albums, only Pedersen knows. For now, there’s certainly evidence of good talent here, which has culminated into a charming album experience.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Selected Songs:

  • High Dust Devils
  • Appreciation Hymn
  • Golden Age
  • Kill With Kindness

Thomas Charlie Pedersen’s debut solo album ‘Second Hand War’ is out now.

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Capturas del Único Camino – Damián Anache

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Argentine composer Damián Anache sets the way for this first solo album endeavor ‘Capturas del Único Camino’. The new album features Anache completely immersing himself into experimental ambient music, utilizing every trick and technique at his disposal to create and present a challenging and driving album experience. The real driving power of ‘Capturas del Único Camino’ is in how Anache created the music initially, which involved various source material (be it acoustic instruments ,vocal recordings and field recordings) all being run through an algorithm created by Anache himself. The result is a slowly moving meditative piece that hardly evolves as it progresses, but instead lulls one into a mysteriously captivating world.

 ‘Capturas del Único Camino’ comes across as a very intelligent and driving album experience, one in which the techniques in how the music itself has been composed is every bit as relevant as the music itself. The algorithm made by Anache himself results in the creation of music that moves at glacial paces, slowly moving in and out of focus, constantly interpreting sounds and data until the music is created within. The album itself is more than just its experimental notions, as the result of the ideas and techniques is an engrossing album experience that slowly engulfs the listener.

There are many merits to ‘Capturas del Único Camino’, which sees Anache completely embracing experimental music with great confidence, utilizing his many talents to create something where the experimental elements don’t overtake the accessibility of the music itself. Although there’s many enjoyable elements to the album, it’s rather sparse sound, combined with a fairly challenging nature overall, might perhaps turn away those expecting something more on the ambient or classical end of things than the experimental side.

Anache’s first solo album comes across as a difficult album to swallow at times, though its experimental notions give it great gravitas, pushed further by the actual result of the experimental notions themselves, which create an interesting album experience. The experimental ideas being used by Anache may come across as a gimmick to some, though Anache has managed to push out an incredibly impressive album experience, somewhat reminiscent of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops, both in terms of the tone of the music itself, and the methods used to create it. It’s a strong album experience, and one that showcases Anache’s talents in a great light.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Paisaje Primero
  • Paisaje Propio
  • Paisaje Artificial
  • Paisaje Natural

Damián Anache debut solo album ‘Capturas del Único Camino’ is out now.

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Straitjacket – Rangleklods

Danish electronic duo Esben Nørskov Andersen & Pernille Smith-Sivertsen offer up their latest album experience under the title of Rangleklods, titled ‘Straitjaket’. The new album from his duo offers up an interesting electronic music experience, where electronica intertwines itself with way with pop-music, club-music and even occasional hints of trip-hop. Much of the music feels rather grand for the most part, with Rangleklods pushing forward much of what they can offer to the best of their abilities. Whilst there’s some incredibly enjoyable tracks featured on the album, it seems much of the album effort itself really struggles to get itself off the ground.

Rangleklods certainly feel like they have a lot to offer, and seem to do everything in their power to present the best of their abilities on their debut album effort. ‘Straitjacket’ sees the duo presenting a varied selection of electronica styles, most of which come together cohesively into a single album vision, without sounding disruptive or messy. The main highlights of the album though seem to be when Rangleklods stray into the territories of trip-hop, where we see the duo indulging in cool and slow grooves, accompanied by dreamy vocal styles.

‘Straitjacket’ is certainly enjoyable on some levels, though it seems much of Rangkeklod’s efforts are wasted. The duo just don’t seem to do enough to make their debut album interesting enough, instead relying on the genre itself to carry the music instead of their own abilities, Certain sections of the album suggest some strong ideas, though on the album itself it seems limited to only a few tracks instead of dominating the album with these strong motifs and moments. It seems Rangkeklods haven’t really fully envisioned their debut album, and instead have filled it up with as much as they can, without really thinking about it all.

There’s some enjoyable moments on ‘Straitjacket’, though not enough to really make the whole album experience worth bothering with. There just doesn’t seem to be enough substance in the album itself, making it an album that drags on instead of being enjoyable and fun. The moments where the duo demonstrate good ideas and talent work very nicely, and it raises the question of why haven’t the duo pushed forward these elements to the best of their abilities, instead of doing what comes across as a bare minimum within the genre.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆  2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Forgive
  • Dry Me Out

Rangleklods’ debut album ‘Straitjacket’ is out now.

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Policy – Will Butler

First posted on seroword.com

Arcade Fire’s Will Butler offers up his debut solo album effort ‘Policy’. For this debut effort, Butler presents a quintessential indie-rock experience, pushed along by Butler’s own viewpoints presented in his lyrics. There’s a nice effort being pushed out by Butler for his debut album, featuring enjoyable tracks with a certain anthemic quality. Butler’s solo style works well for his first album, allowing him to command the scene with great confidence, presenting an effort that ties in easily with his earlier work in Arcade Fire, though also featuring some new elements that separate the whole experience into something new.

‘Policy’ comes across as a loud and anthemic indie-rock experience, almost traditional in format and tone, though ultimately exciting and raucous in places. Butler utilizes some nice ideas on his solo record, throwing some rather odd ideas into the mix that somehow work, forming the basis of accessible and incredibly enjoyable tracks. Butler’s themes of growing up and the peculiarity of teenage life work nicely as an overarching theme for the album, tie-ing together each of the songs in a cohesive manner. Everything seems to work well on ‘Policy’, with it being an enjoyable and rather strong album experience.

Whilst Butler seems to offer up a lot of himself for his debut effort, it seems that there’s a few traits bringing down some level of quality on ‘Policy’. Whilst there’s a sense of enjoyable indie-rock on the album, Butler doesn’t seem to really add all that much to the genre, or arguably even enough of himself, to really make the album stand out with its own respective strengths. Everything works well in its own right, though there’s a sense that Butler could perhaps be doing just that little bit more. On top of everything else is how short ‘Policy’ actually is, which ends up ending just as soon as it starts to get going.

There’s a few poor elements here and there, though the overall impact of the album itself is quite nice, and one that showcases Butler’s talents in a nice and enjoyable way. Each song offers up something fun and enjoyable, with there being very few weak tracks on the album, perhaps indicating a strength to the short album run-time. Overall, ‘Policy’ is a rather strong effort, and one that should certainly please fans of Arcade Fire’s output. Butler has some nice ideas he presents on ‘Policy’, many of which he’s managed to push out in a strong and cohesive manner, making his debut effort a strong and easily enjoyable one.

 Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Take My Side
  • Son Of God
  • Something’s Coming
  • What I Want

Will Butler’s debut solo album ‘Policy’ is out now.

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I’ll Be Fine – Ethan Jano

Singer-songwriter Ethan Jano offers up his debut album ‘I’ll Be Fine’. Taking influence from traditional country-folk artists and bands, Jano pushes out a rather impressive debut album experience, one that showcases and highlights great natural talent from this upcoming performer. ‘I’ll Be Fine’ sees Jano pushing out every ounce of talent in the form of his own song-writing, showing remarkable promise for someone so young. There’s a lot to enjoy here from Jano, though his debut album seems to fall into a few holes that the genre itself presents.

‘I’ll Be Fine’ comes across as a strong debut for the most part. Jano presents his own style of singer-songwriter music with incredible confidence and ease, making everything sound incredibly natural. Nothing feels overdone or blown out of proportion on the album, which effortlessly flows along with natural and comfortable ease. At the forefront of everything is of course Ethan Jano himself, who presents himself as a rather deep thinker about varying issues and concepts. There’s few lyrical cliches here, which is rather refreshing to hear within a genre that is so full of them from the average artist.

There’s many strengths to ‘I’ll Be Fine’, though it seems Jano falls into some traps that the genre presents. Whilst there’s some great ideas being presented by Jano, it seems the musical elements of the album aren’t all that impressive. There’s a few repetitive qualities in a few of the songs, failing to present all that much ingenuity when it comes to the musical elements of the album. The real strength of the album seem to fall to Jano’s natural voice and lyrics, though it seems there’s been a bit of neglect in the musical elements of the album, something that deserves consideration.

Even though the album falters at times, ‘I’ll Be Fine’ still comes across as a strong debut effort, and one that highlights remarkable promise from such a young musician. There’s a lot of natural talent, which forms one of the main appealing elements of this album. It’s certainly refreshing to hear such a songwriter put as much thought into his lyrics and the message it presents as Jano does, which makes ‘I’ll Be Fine’ a rather thought-provoking album experience at times.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • On The Way Back Down
  • All I Need Is You
  • I Won’t Go
  • The Perfect Space

Ethan Jano’s debut album ‘I’ll Be Fine’ is out now.

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Last Ex – Last Ex

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Timber Timbre’s Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield’s new and exciting project Last Ex sees the release of their self-titled album effort. Drawing upon groundwork established during attempts to make a soundtrack to a 2012 horror film, Last Ex showcase a phenomenal instrumental rock style (or Post-Rock to some), echoing the days of early Do Make Say Think and Tortoise. ‘Last Ex’ comes across as a very unusual and slightly inaccessible/out-of-reach album experience, presenting a slightly harrowing and unsettling viewpoint of our world where there’s twists and turns at every corner, ready to jump out at you.

Many elements of ‘Last Ex’ seem to build up from the framework being established by the soundtrack genre, giving a real sense of structure to the album. Trottier and Fairfield however haven’t let themselves be limited by the rules of the genre, and instead use it as a jumping off point, establishing new ideas, concepts and even rules in their music. Much of the album has the feelings of an instrumental rock album, though the album doesn’t strictly feel as such, and instead portrays its own images and ideas incredibly naturally, showing incredible dedication to the crafting of real music. The album experience feels exciting and worrying, throwing up an incredible range of emotions and ideas all anchored around incredibly cohesive structures.

We can argue that ‘Last Ex’ suffers at times from similar structures and motifs in the various tracks, giving a sense of similarity that runs throughout the whole album. We can even argue that there’s a very dark undertone to the whole album, making it quite uncomfortable to some. The album experience feels very distant, not offering much that listeners can easily connect with.  It’s arguable, but whenever these moments occur, it somehow seems to work for the album itself, strengthening the whole experience and giving it the sense of being a concept album. Last Ex seem to have constructed a superb album experience that seems to have come out of nowhere.

Last Ex’s debut effort come across as a superb album experience, echoing a style of instrumental-rock music that seems to have been lost for a fair few years, whilst simultaneously bring new life to it. Elements of ‘Last Ex’ don’t feel all together new or exciting, but Last Ex have hardly offered up a rehashing of what we already know and are familiar with. ‘Last Ex’ is ultimately its own album experience, ready to please anyone who love carefully crafted music, where everything just simply works. It’s quite dark and unsettling, though this debut album from Last Ex offers so much, including comfortable repeated listening time and time again.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Girl Seizure
  • It’s Not Chris
  • Neil’s Theme
  • Cite D’or

Last Ex’s debut album ‘Last Ex’ is out now on Constellation Records.

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The Gloaming – The Gloaming

The début album by Irish folk-band The Gloaming features a large number of traditional Irish music ideals, all presented in a very versatile and modern way. The Gloaming’s self-titled album is a wonderful effort that brilliantly merges together the traditional and the more contemporary areas of music these days. ‘The Gloaming’ is a wonderful album that presents the traditional elements of Irish folk music in a more modern sense, without drastically changing any element to the point of being unrecognisable. The Gloaming’s début album is a wonderful effort that introduces The Gloaming into the music industry in very strong fashion.

Much of ‘The Gloaming’ is made up of very traditional elements, with the music often featuring prominent use of the fiddle, accompanied either by acoustic guitars, pianos or both. To an extent, it’s all rather basic, but The Gloaming present it in an incredibly strong and enjoyable way. Everything just exudes talent and craftsmanship, with nearly every effort the band has pushed into their music coming out in fine form. The whole album has a rather melancholy feel to it for the most part, but it is still incredibly enjoyable and fun. The beautiful instrumentals of each song seem to carry the whole album, accompanied also by the very distinct vocal style of the band. Everything just seems to combine together in wonderful style, all resulting in incredibly gorgeous and indulgent Irish music.

Whilst there are a large number of strengths to ‘The Gloaming’ as an album, which does suggest wonderful creativity and talent, it does still seem to come across as an album that doesn’t really do much else. Sure enough, The Gloaming are presenting traditional Irish music in a modern context, though it doesn’t really seem to be much else than that. When we look at the sound being produced by The Gloaming, it doesn’t really seem to be anything new when compared to those who have preceded them. As enjoyable as ‘The Gloaming’ is, it does seem to suggest that there might only be one side to this band, and that The Gloaming might end up being a one-trick pony.

For now though, we can enjoy the fact that ‘The Gloaming’ is a wonderful album that has managed to get a lot right. Each song offers up wonderful vignettes of Ireland and everything it has to offer. Musically the album is superb, which doesn’t at any point ever seem to over-do any motif or idea. Each moment of each song seems to have been carefully crafted and composed for the best of the music itself. It’s a wonderful effort that is a rather refreshing album to hear. Although it might not appeal to a large number of people, due to the style of the music and the sound The Gloaming present in their style, it still remains a wonderful creative and strong album that is certainly a good strong way to start the year off.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Song 44
  • Freedom
  • Opening Set
  • Samhradh Samhradh

The Gloaming’s début album ‘The Gloaming’ is out now.

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