I got to know Sqürl because the American director Jim Jarmusch plays in it and Sqürl played a big part of his film “Only Lovers Left Alive” that I badly need to see again.
Sqürl makes very slow, (mostly) minimalistic, instrumental drone / stoner / psychedelic rock music that fits “Only Lover Left Alive” perfectly. The band produced a couple of EPs: “#1”, “#2”, “#3” and now “#260”. There are two full-lengths. One is the soundtrack of the said film, the other a live recording. The ‘ambient rock music’ works well as background music, it is moody and somewhat dark. “#260” Does not contain my favorite Sqürl music, but it certainly is a nice album to listen to.
Sqürl moved to the varied and interesting label that houses artists and bands such as Zola Jesus, Moon Duo, Blank Mass, David Lynch, Lust For Youth, Pharmakon and Factums.
Links: Sqürl, Sacred Bones
Continuing on the psychedelic path, Der Blutharsch, etc. comes with an album with only three tracks, one of 8, one of 7 and one of 14 minutes.
The music is largely instrumental, slow and psychedelic, but on a few occasions there are metal-like eruptions and singing by Marthynna and less frequently Herr Julius.
Like with most Infinite Church albums I find “Such & Ordnung” alright, but not great. Good to listen to a couple of times, but not much more than that.
Links: Der Blutharsch / WKN
A couple of years ago I discovered The Soft Moon when I was looking for A Place To Bury Strangers-like shoegaze-rock style bands. The Soft Moon is a descent band in that ‘genre’, but when I saw them at the 2013 Summer Darkness festival, they proved to be much more energetic on stage than on their albums which made their show more interesting than their albums.
While at the gothic Summer Darkness festival the band probably did not have their usual audience, yesterday the band played at the Psych Lab Eindhoven festival with a whole range of different-style psychedelic bands; more their scene I think. Their show was with quite a distance the most interesting of the evening. Whereas many band were slow and… psychedelic, The Soft Moon were noisy, uptempo and very energetic. Judging my review of the “Zeros” album, that also was true for the Utrecht show. The band played quite a few tracks that I did not know, so I figured they might have a new album out and indeed, their merchandise stand had “Deeper”.
The cd opens in a promising way with the uptempo “Inward”. Just as in my previous review, I can say that “Deeper” is not as continuously energetic as the live performance. There are also slower and even soft songs to be found on the album. Like in my previous review I can say that there are great and alright tracks on the cd and again I prefer the faster tracks. There seems to be more focus on electronics this time with some beat-driven tracks, but in basis the sound of The Soft Moon is shoegazish, slightly psychedelic rock, somewhat reminding of the sound of A Place To Bury Strangers; so: noisy with high-pitched guitars.
A nice album, but perhaps a live album would be even nicer.
Links: The Soft Moon, Captured Tracks
A while ago I had Deezer choose my music and I heard a great track of Wolfmother. Wolfmother has great tracks, but not all of them are that good. Continuing with Wolfmother I discovered bands such as Cage The Elephant (nicely experimental, but a bit too poppy), Them Crooked Vultures (with Nirvana / Foo Fighter member, quite a good band) and Eagles Of Death Metal (interestingly experimental); all strange rockmusic. Then I heard the magnificent “Witch Doctor” of a band whose name I have known for a long time: De Staat. De Staat is a Dutch band which is about as weird as my townmates of Stuurbaard Bakkebaard. They throw many different styles of music in their poprock sound and here and there they run off with strange experimentations. The sound goes from quite poppy to more psychedelic. I especially like the more uptempo tracks, but also the stranger parts are sometimes downright brilliant. “I_Con” is the third album of this band. The debut (2011) has less interesting tracks, the second album (2012) is also quite interesting. Should you have followed my advice to try “The New Puritans” and you liked this -also- weird band, this Dutch outfit might be a nice thing to try too.
Links: De Staat, Cool Green Recordings
I already knew The Soft Moon when I noticed that they would play at this year’s Summer Darkness festival. Out of place, since they are not from ‘the gothic scene’, but fitting with their sound which certainly has 1980’ies wave and gothic rock elements. The show was great, the albums that I listened to a bit on Deezer, are nice too. Great tracks and alright tracks alternate. During their show I bought two albums, “Zeros” is their last album, so I decided to review it.
“Zeros” has more uptempo songs which are the songs I like best. The sound reminds a bit of A Place To Bury Strangers here and there. The ‘wavey’ beats/drums, high-pitched guitars and screaking sounds (no guitars, but coming from the synth). There are not that many vocals, usually just some screaming. “Zeros”, as the other albums that I heard of The Soft Moon, goes from great tracks to nice tracks. Live they seemed more energetic and rocking, in the living room the sound is a lot better than it was in Tivoli (way too loud). A nice album, certainly, but not the best ‘in the style’ that I know. One of the faster bands though, so if you like A Place To Bury Strangers or The Lost Rivers, you might be interested in The Soft Moon too.
Links: The Soft Moon, Captured Tracks
In Leipzig I found a card of Mannequin Label and Mailorder. They have “cold wave”, “minimal synth”, “post punk”, “dark wave”, “experimental” and “industrial”. I did not see these cards at the minimal wave/synth night, but it would have been more fitting there. Anyways, since I like some of that minimal wave/synth stuff, I decided to check out the label. They have a Bandcamp with a lot of music on so that is good. One band did not sound like minimal wave/synth at all, but more something like shoegaze, another genre that I have been looking through recently. The band with the weird name “The Cult Of Dom Kellar” makes a nice piece of slow shoegaze, or perhaps better: psychedelic rock. There are some of the feedback sounds, but not all that much. This self-titled debut album is not the first release of this British band, there have been several 7″s.
This debut is available only through the Bandcamp of the label. You can either get one of the 500 lps and a digital download or just a digital download.
Links: The Cult Of Dom Kellar (Facebook), Mannequin
According to Last.fm I know Wolf Eyes and they recommended me the latest album of this weird US band. They are listed as (among other genres) noise rock, so I suppose they sometimes come by when I am playing nowave, since Last.fm, but more especially Deezer easily connect bands that have only the smallest thing incommon. However I use the tag “nowave” myself, this term does not really describe the sound of Wolf Eyes (but I cannot make a new tag for every band). Nowave is usually chaotic, noisy punk without much structure, rhythm or melody. “No Answer” is rather tranquil and very experimental music. Guitars, electronics and sometimes vocals making a weird style of… noise rock? Perhaps yes, but the guitars are not ‘rocky’ at all and the noise is nothing much when you compare it to what I call noise, nor even when you compare it to some nowave. Wolf Eyes is an extremely active band. Their first release on Discogs is from 1998 and Discogs has 67 (!) albums listed and does not even have this one yet. Add 30 eps and over a hundred splits and I am beginning to understand that somewhere along the line I must definately have come accross this band. So, if you are looking for something different, something experimental, perhaps slightly psychedelic and certainly soundscapish, but then made with guitars and some electronics, have a listen to Wolf Eyes. I personally find this a bit too unstructured, but I would not turn it off would it come along in some Last.fm or Deezer “radio”.
Links: Wolf Eyes, De Stijl Recs
Last weekend we spent in Brussel, Belgium and checking Last.fm if there would be anything musically interesting in these days I ran into a club with the great name “Madame Moustache et son Freakshow” which had a psychedelic stonerband on friday. I looked up the music, indeed “psychedelic stoner” is the only possible description, but I was not convinced by the high-pitched vocals. We went nonetheless and after the sometimes interesting weird electropunk band Shiko Shiko two young (?) hippies entered the stage, a singer guitarist and singer drummer. Accompanied by some electronics the duo gave a great performance of stoner rock music with psychedelic long solos, strange electronics and Beatles (or something)-like vocals. A nice party indeed. The album sounds well too, the mixing gave the band more possibilities with the sound than on stage, but basically live and on cd the sound is the same. I bought me the cd, but Discogs only lists the album as 12″. Know that there is a cd version too!
Links: Tweak Bird, Volcom Entertainment
Swans is one of those bands I have known about for decades, but never got to listen to them. In my head Swans is an old industrial band that was around before I started to listen to industrial music and since everybody says that they Swans are the hardest live band they ever saw, I took them for probably being a noise band. Actually Swans were there before there was industrial and since Michael Gira is also in the “nowave” documentary “Kill Your Idols!” that would probably mean a guitar-oriented noise outfit. Another reason that I probably never heard them is that they seem to have quit after the 1998 album “Swans Are Dead” and released nothing until 12 years after. I, at least not consciously, did not hear about the 2010 album “My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky”, but Last.fm did recommend me “The Seer”. Since they are also coming to my country to play, I decided to try this new album and I noticed that there are actually two new albums, “The Seer” and “We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head”. The latter appears to be somewhat how I expected Swans to sound, but not as loud as I thought, guitar-oriented noisy music. Fortunately I heard “The Seer” before “We Rose…” otherwise I might not have heard it. Not that “We Rose…” is a boring album, but “The Seer” is a lot more interesting. It opens with a brilliant song called “Lunacy”, a soft track with constantly repeating singing of the song title. The next track is more a long, epic rock song with softer and louder parts, completely with organs. After a short soundscape comes the over half hour title track epic which goes from soundscapes to jazzy music to noisy rock, heck, this is almost what you nowadays call “sludge” or “stoner doom” and not bad either. The next track is almost poppy as are some other tracks on the second disc. There is folk, classical nowave/artpunk, popmusic. Not every track is brilliant, but most are good to very good and the variety of styles makes “The Seer” very interesting and very listenable. I might need to find me more music of Swans! Would this be a new sound for the band or did I mistakingly ignore them all these years? You probably know the band for a long time, so perhaps this review will tell you if Swans changed and if you still want to hear the new album, but for people like me, who somehow managed to miss this band, “The Seer” could be a good introduction to start exploring the massive discography.
Swans, Young God Records
Well, the new cd does sound somewhat different from what I expected. The album did not become slower and more sleasy, but the music actually sped up somewhat and become more psychedelic rock than psychedelic doom. The tempo is about that of the good days with Bain Wolfkind, but the sound is more that of the later releases with simple organ playing, stretched guitars and a bit of psychedelica. Of course there is a range of guest musicians and singers. “The End Of The Beginning” is, like all of the latest releases, nice, but not great. The length did improve, by the way, almost an hour this time.
Link: Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand/WKN