Small Black – Small Black E.P.
Small Black’s self-titled debut EP earned a sizable amount of buzz when it was released in the fall of 2009 in a limited edition of 1,000 copies — and with its reissue on CD with bonus tracks, it’s a lot easier to hear why. The band’s core duo, Josh Kolenik and Ryan Heyner, recorded these songs in Kolenik’s uncle’s attic during a Long Island winter, and these songs really soaked up that atmosphere: Small Black’s distant vocals and in-the-red keyboards and guitars bleed into each other over crisp mechanical beats, mixing the best of dream pop’s haze, synth pop’s aloofness, and lo-fi’s intimacy. Like Neon Indian, it’s hard to believe that a sound this big came from a duo. However, unlike similar bands that seem to insulate themselves with layers of noise, Small Black’s music is saturated not just with sound but emotion, as if the feelings in their songs were too big to capture without bleeding out. “Despicable Dogs” is a masterful piece of bummer pop, its blurry melody conjuring up a summer’s worth of regret that the refrain “Do it without me/Do it when I’m gone” hits home. Every track here shows off Small Black’s way with textures, from the piercing, jolie-laide keyboard hook of “Weird Machines” to “Lady in the Wires,” a song laden with interstellar static that recalls Joe Meek and Broadcast as much as it does Small Black’s contemporaries. The band’s sound isn’t all about noise, though, as “Pleasant Experience”’s limpid tones and the contrast between Kolenik’s yearning vocals and the blur of activity behind him on “Bad Lover” show. Indeed, it’s Kolenik’s emotive singing that makes Small Black unique — even on the happier bonus track “Kings of Animals,” he brings something very human and moving to the song. Though this track and the other bonus song, “Baby Bird, Pt. 2,” don’t quite fit the mood of what came before them, they reaffirm what an impressive command of songwriting and sound-shaping Small Black displayed on their very first release.
Available on Jagjaguwar and iTunes .
Hammock – Chasing After Shadows…Living With The Ghosts
Comparisons are inevitable when it comes to instrumental bands and Hammock aren’t immune to this beautiful curse. Yes, the duo of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson draw heavy influence from Sigur Rós, to the point of including “vocal instrument” parts in “Breathturn.” But their reliance on, or homage to, the Icelandic quartet’s signature sound has been waning from release to release. On Chasing After Shadows, they’ve relinquished that hold to a greater degree and the results are spectacular. The emotional pull is much stronger compared to their last album, Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow. Songs such as “Andalusia” and “The World We Knew As Children” use spacey lulls to hypnotize listeners while angelic strings fill the speakers. And they even step toward the microphone, adding actual vocals in “You Lost The Starlight In Your Eyes,” a standout track amongst the album’s 12. Chasing After Shadows is Byrd and Thompson’s most complete effort, both cathartic and heartbreaking. (Independent) – By Travis Persaud
Available on Amazon.com.
The American Dollar – Ambient Two
“Cinematic post-rock for people who don’t actually like post-rock. The Technicolour Sleep showcases the type of music that would be played during the quietly sentimental moments of movies…The band’s music fits so well in this moving and dramatic context because this post-rock duo has mastered the art of composing straightforward and emotional instrumental music. The American Dollar concentrates their efforts on developing beautiful music that reaches the depths of a variety of human emotions.”
– Libby Wait, cdreviews.com
Release date June 20th
Available on Yesh Music and Amazon.com
Modern English – Clinging to a Scheme
Post Punk –
“Ever since 1982’s household smash “”I Melt With You,”” Modern English has been locked in one-hit-wonder status. Forward to 2010 and Soundtrack surfaces as their first studio album since 1996’s Everything Is Mad. This time around Modern English re-explore ‘80s-flavored new wave in the spirit of “”I Melt With You”” but with witty themes, subtle hooks and thoughtful lyrics. Singer Robbie Grey and keyboardist turned guitar player Steven Walker are the only founding members left, but Hugh Jones, the original producer of “”I Melt With You,”” came back to mix this album — and he’s since worked with Simple Minds, Echo & The Bunnymen, That Petrol Emotion and Pale Saints amongst others — so beginning with the very jangly (and very English) “”It’s OK,”” Soundtrack harks back to those bygone days when the 4AD label was stylistically consistent. Anyone who was in high school during the ’80s might recall the smell of clove cigarettes after listening to the danceable “”Blister”” while more moody pieces like “”The Lowdown”” and “”Antique Future”” beg for birthing another chapter of This Mortal Coil.”
Availabile on Darla Records and iTunes
Scorn – Refuse; Start Fires
Scorn’s fourteenth full length release remains in the vibe and tempo of modern dubstep while adding a brand new element to the Scorn sound: a live drummer, Ian “Yan” Treacy. The vibrant sounds of the kit are run thru the filters and dub wizardry of Mick Harris, former drummer of Napalm Death and Guinness World Record Holder for composer of the world’s shortest song.
Scorn is an entity – for over 15 years Mick Harris has not relented with the project’s dubbed out beats, film noir atmospheres, and over the top bass compulsions. “Refuse; Start Fires” is perhaps the angriest and most well articulated of his projects in the last decade.
Available on Ohm Resistance.
Imaginary Forces – Fifth Columnist
Experimental Drum and Bass –
If drum and bass could be reduced to its component elements, and re-contextualised as a truly horrifying and soul incinerating music, then certainly London’s Imaginary Forces is still drum and bass. The Filth Columnist does precisely that – deconstructs electronic party music, and turns it into something far far more nightmarish and challenging than the modern sound of jungle music.
Having much more musically in common with Sunn O))), Merzbow and spiraling psychedelia than structured electronic music, the album was written with a total disregard for modern ideas of form and structure, and a brain piercing sense of anger at conformity. This record will not be loved by all, but should be regarded as the important creative work it represents. Drum and bass, breakcore, and beat music turned into a schizophrenic, Ballardian dream.
Available on Ohm Resistance .
Merzbow – Camouflage
Limited to 800 copies.
The elemental excitement for each new MERZBOW album remains intact among us here and, after four long years, the undisputable master returns to Essence Music with a new installment of his unique brand of harsh psychedelic noise assault.
A bit distant from “Sha Mo 3000”’s pulsing, often rhythmic strategies or the recent albums featuring freestyle drums by Masami Akita himself, “Camouflage” plays by the more straight MERZBOW rules, going back to his comfort zone of audio barbarism.
We salute the ferocious torrents of abused, imploding and exploding electronics, the sharp, pulverizing and abrasive high frequencies and the unrelenting punishment of frenzied throbbing machine-screams witnessed in the controlled cacophonic environment of “Camouflage”!
Presented in our deluxe, sturdy gatefold mini-LP packaging featuring intriguing psychedelic collages by Mr. Akita.
1. coral reef color with red, pink, purple and green
2. transparent man is color with blue and pink
3. cicad played under the arch
Available June 7th
Available on Essence Music (Brazil)
Muslimgauze – Armsbazzar
“Armsbazzar” investigates both released and unreleased selected recordings from the productive period comprised between 1994 and 1997. Included are the out-of-print “Hebron Massacre” and “Gulf Between Us” singles, which feature two of the longest, most stunning and hypnotic MUSLIMGAUZE pieces ever – plus two inedit, highly percussive tracks taken from the recording sessions of the mythic, yet still unreleased and unheard, “Zamindar” album.
Presented in our custom 6-panel digisleeve packaging – which also houses a 5-color poster – adorned by the highly original and strong artwork from the fantastic Iranian visual artist Mohammad Fadaei.
Mastered by Peter Andersson and limited to 999 hand-numbered copies.
Unfortunately Bryn Jones, this eccentric music visionary and controversial figure who spent a lifetime moved by personal beliefs and relentless dedication to the Middle East issues, is no longer with us, but his unique and disturbing music is carved in stone and will always be in our hearts and minds.
2. gulf between us
3. hebron massacre
Available June 7th
Available on Essence Music (Brazil).
The Blood Of Heroes – The Blood Of Heroes
Experimental Drum and Bass –
The Blood of Heroes is a collaboration project featuring Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu, Napalm Death) and Bill Laswell, with beats from Submerged and End.user and vocals from Dr. Israel. Post apocalyptic soundscapes and de-imaged electronic beats backed up with heavy guitar and bass. Features live drumming from KJ Sawka and Balazs Pandi, and sound design from film sound architect M. Gregor Filip. Powerful anthemic tracks collide with vicious drum n bass beatdowns and intersperse with breathtaking synth beauty and Aphex Twin style mezzed beats. The soundtrack to post-solarflare humanity!
Available on Ohm Resistance