Elk’s Specimen EP Is A Journey Beyond Post Rock

There is music which by default tumbles into that categorical looseness known as post-rock, a term so vague that even the most knowing of oracles would be hard pressed to define it.

I like to think of it as a musical free spirit; music without a map or specific direction, meandering aimlessly through a myriad uncharted territories.  Chameleon like changes of sound and texture, vacillating between tempos, swimming seas of varying emotions.  I cannot define post-rock in the same way that I cannot confine the music of Elk to one single genre. The Shropshire four-piece are about so much more than a single-instance of style.  

Elk are Dom Main (vox/electronics), Jamie Wesley (guitar), Will Soutter (drums/electronics) and James Kerr (bass).  They met whilst at Durham Uni where they allegedly studied things medical and scientific, and having a formed a bond over tea, music and er, Elks obviously, they turned friendship into a band and are playing together even since. 

Today marks the release of their debut EP ‘Specimen‘, three tracks of truly phenomenal musicianship and exceptional vocals that radiate transcendence and epitomise originality and diversity.  Despite being recorded in the hermetic confines of an attic the resultant three songs are anything but dark or claustrophobic.  

That Elk take their influences from a wealth of artists – Japan, Radiohead, ’80s electronica – is reflected in the eclectic nature of their music, something which is very evident when you listen to their new EP.  Opener ‘Continuously’ like the ebb and flow of a tide, veers in the direction of Kid A and then away again, falling on your ears like a shower of otherworldly dreams.  Experimental ambient in nature, it comes replete with stick click percussion and slickly executed tempo changes.  After a careful build, the song rises to a deftly woven compelling climax that features a rather adeptly performed insistent guitar solo.

Possibly the most captivating and definitely the most poignant song on the EP is the title track.  I was lucky enough to be on Fresh on the Net reviewing duty when it featured in their Fresh Faves back in February – click here to read the review. ‘Specimen’s gentle rise and fall leads us through a pastoral landscape on its journey to some faraway, meditative nirvana.  Lead singer Dom Main’s angelic falsetto is set in a transcendental ambience the peace of which is broken only by intermittent shards of sonorous guitar.  If you could only use one word, it would be ‘bliss’.

Final track (and best of the three) ‘Iceberg’ makes yet another stylistic volte-face, one which elevates Elk’s post-rock sound to Radiohead levels (lying somewhere between Kid A and Hail to the Thief).  A fusion of electronic wizardry and earthy jazz-pop it is a vivid exploration of texture, a confluence of wildly disparate yet complementary styles.  Its brilliance is in its idiosyncratic weirdness; its divergent elements, perfectly teased and executed, are brought together in a carefully conceived of arrangement and precision production.

‘Specimen’ doesn’t define Elk but rather sets out their stall in terms of skilful musicianship and unbounded innovation.  By taking this unorthodox adventure into unmapped soundscapes, Elk have shown they are willing risk-takers and fearless experimentalists who put originality ahead of populism.

The ‘Specimen’ EP was mastered by Cem Oral (Gwen Stefani, NIN) at Jammin Masters studios, Berlin,  and comes complete with contemporary artwork by the award winning Matthieu Leger.  To celebrate its launch, Elk will join FOTN alumni Sykoya amongst others in the line up for HOTVOX, Camden Assembly, 29th April, details here.  Other gigs to follow, details will be posted on their Facebook page. ‘Specimen’ is out now and available for download from Amazon.

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Come On Live Long Break Bread Along With Some Bones

Photo Rich Gilligan

“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that some of the best musical relationships are those that come about purely by chance. Personally speaking, I pride myself on the number of happy accidents (Lina Kasa remains #1) that have befallen me during the 18+months since I started, as in Tom Robinson seriously started, writing about music.

My latest accidental discovery is upcoming Irish band, Come On Live Long (there’s a story there surely … unlike Killer Kid Mozart who swear there isn’t!), a four-piece who dabble in a myriad genres from dirty electronica through soul-lite to dramatic pop with flecks of folk and urban in between.

Their FB states that their hometown is Dublin though judging by some of the accents I would imagine that denotes place of residence as opposed to ‘natives of’.  How do I know this?  Because these clever dudes have only gone and uploaded a backstory to their latest single, ‘Bones to Break‘, in the form of an ‘here’s how we did it guys’ audio, onto their Soundcloud page.

This short audio tracks the construction of the song from the programming of the initial beat to the complex building of layer upon vocal layer until the production was a perfect ten. It’s a fascinating listen, not just for self-confessed studio-dummies like myself, but also for any would be, will be musicians out there, scrambling around the ‘IoT’ for scraps of wisdom thrown down from the tables of those who have themselves cut their teeth and worn the tee-shirt.

It’s 10-minutes of well thought out, unfussy home-truths about composition and recording. Stream it here…

Now, listen to the finished product!

‘es to Break’ is the lead single from the band’s upcoming sophomore album, ‘In The Still’, due for release in May 2017.  While that excited storm is brewing, one of the gigs that the band will be busying themselves with is a new Irish music meets craft beer initiative.  ‘Future Proof‘, a new live music series showcasing the best of emerging Irish talent will kick off in Bello Bar on 22nd March – tickets are available online or at the door (if they’re not already sold out!), details here.

I’ll leave you with a track from Come On Live Long’s debut album ‘Everything Fall‘.  The song is called ‘For The Birds‘ and it was its title which caught my eye on Soundcloud.  Given my current state of mind, it resonated!

With its reverbed echoey vocal and intergalactic sound fx it leans towards dreamy electro-pop but blues-hued guitar licks and sexy lounge percussion drag it back down and anchor it to a very gritty earth.  That is, until the whole thing explodes sky-high. A gloriously unexpected firework, this dramatic flourish of guitar drone and spectacular synth flares and dazzles, bringing the track to a spectacular close fading out with one last breathy note.

Check out ‘For The Birds’ and the rest of Come On Live Long’s published music on Souncloud, MySpace and Bandcamp.  You can check in with their FB and Twitter pages to keep up to speed with album and tour-date (yes, there will be a promotional tour) developments.  Derval.

The Choice Music Prize – How The Odds Are Stacked

The 12th annual Choice Music Prize, Ireland’s premier award for album and song of the year, is once again upon us.  Now sponsored by RTE, this year’s ceremony, which is being held in Dublin’s Vicar St, will see some of the crème of Irish music line up for what should prove to be an intriguing evening!  The ceremony which will be broadcast live on 2FM from 7pm, will hsve the ever popular Louise McSharry at its helm.

The shortlist is made up of ten nominees from which the eventual winner will be decided by a panel comprising bloggers, DJs, journalists and ‘industry professionals’.  This Decameron have between them produced some of the strongest albums to hit the Irish music scene in several years and comprises an eclectic mix of artists from industry stalwarts such as The Divine Comedy and Wallis Bird and emerging talents like Katie Kim and Overhead, The Albatross.

Yes, there are some glaring omissions, notably ‘New Forest’ by Cathy Davey and Dublin based Little Green Car’s ‘Ephemera’, but this year’s list of contenders is more than strong and reflects an extremely diverse batch of talent from across the very wide Irish musical spectrum.

So who are the shortlistees and how will their opuses, or opi if you’re a stickler, fare?

ALL TVINNS – IIVV

Red hot music fan faves and darlings of the media ‘smart set’ All Tvvins are possibly the most commercial cum radio-friendly of the nominees.  Their music, feisty pop rock fused with electronic elegance, is sophisticated cool with just the right amount of gung-ho on the side.  Would be a popular result amongst the music buying public. 5/4

BANTUM – MOVE

Going under the Bantum moniker, Cork man Ruairi Lynch both dipped his toes and stuck his fingers into a gazillion pies here; eclectic is an understatement.  Electro-rap, funk, and trance are just some of the myriad genres that raise their head above the parapet on this multi-dimensional critically acclaimed debut.  Would be a more than worthy winner. 10/1

WALLIS BIRD – HOME

‘Home’ is Wallis Bird’s fifth album and her most astonishing, visceral, and wonderful.  Period. This should be right up there in the short odds category, but alas is probably still ranked as an outsider by the Paddy Powers of this world.  Heart-felt lyrics, perfectly nuanced, pristine vocals, and delightfully surging choruses bursting with symphonic drama make for a sensitively arranged yet exuberant thing of love and joy.  Recognition by the Choice panel would be sweet. 5/1

THE DIVINE COMEDY – FOREVERLAND

What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about Neil Hannon, wunder-composer, songwriter extraordinaire and lit wit behind The Divine Comedy.  ‘Foreverland’, probably in the top three albums of 2016, sees Hannon take up the mantle of Choice nominee for the second time.  It would be an incredible coup if he pulled off a Usain Bolt like double – he won in 2006 for ‘Victory For The Comic Muse’ – but, if the god’s of whimsy are smiling … Evens

LISA HANNIGAN – AT SWIM

Another entry in the top three albums of 2016, Lisa Hannigan’s ‘At Swim’ is serenity and complex simplicity personified. An highly accomplished fusion of vintage and modern-day folk-pop fleshed out with what can only be described as abstruse poetry brought to life by the gentlest and loveliest of vocals.  The underlying emotions are so perfectly and honestly conveyed they’re almost tangible. A strong contender, it would be an hugely popular win. 3/1

KATIE KIM – SALT

Relative unknown Katie Kim is one of the rank outsiders on the list, but woah what a steal if ‘Salt’ were to bag the gong.  A bit Lana del Rey with a midnight twist and cinematic fx, the Waterford native nailed her sound on this her third album.  Enigmatic, hypnotic, urgent sounds that switch from stark to grandiose with sophisticated ease.  Could be the surprise of the night! 6/1

JAMES VINCENT MC MORROW – WE MOVE

Possibly the most talked about Irish album of 2016, ‘We Move’, the third album by Dubliner James Vincent Mc Morrow is the flame white hotter than blue fave to not just walk but run away with tonight’s prize. This well oiled machine turns over soul, synths and stylish grooves with Mc Morrow’s trademark vocal to the fore of, but not dominating, its soundscape.  Like Hannigan, JVMc does a really sleek line in seeming simplicity.  Don’t be fooled.  This is a master at work.  The critics’ choice … 6/4

OVERHEAD, THE ALBATROSS – LEARNING TO GROWL

Don’t you just love the names of both band and album?  One abstract, the other ‘feral’ in nature.  Sitting alongside Bantum as partner in rank-outsidership, this Dublin sextet are nonetheless a more than worthy inclusion on the list.  The album consists of ambitious post-rock cum prog in which they run amok through a varied landscape filled with bursts of choral deliciousness, elegant orchestral flourishes, intense tightly-woven sequences and rich elongated spaces.  Everything about this album is superlative – from the warm and expansive atmosphere to the exquisite mastery of the instruments.  The connoisseurs choice 10/1

RUSANGANO FAMILY – LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD

It would have been a sin had this album not been included on the list.  A testament to the prevalence of hip-hop in today’s scene, ‘Let The Dead Bury The Dead’ is a thought-provoking dynamo from a trio whose star is firmly in the musical ascendant.  Kick-ass driving foundations underpin spitfire vocals and on point lyrics.  Would probably be the Mercury Music Award type of surprise if they won and would certainly knock the corners off the Rubberbandits if they did!  I jest!  Not up there with the too hot to handles but a win here wouldn’t come as a surprise to many in the industry.  7/1

WE CUT CORNERS – THE CADENCES OF OTHERS

Oh sweet guitar playing of the Caribbean how I love you. With hints of reggae, Windies jam and low slung blues bass ‘The Cadences of Others’ is as deceptive as fruit-punch; with its colourful display and killer blow, it is quite the indomitable force.  Clever lyrics, left of centre melodies and some ingenious orchestral manoeuvres make this a bit of a well-educated and riveting keeper.  In with a loud shout. 6/1

For your delectation, I’ve whipped up a playlist sampling one track (not necessarily a lead or single) from each album.  The Choice Music Prize will be broadcast live from 7pm tonight on 2FM.

As Far As I’m Concerned, ESO Are Beyond Impressive

eso-nov-2016-by-christian-zervos
eso-nov-2016-by-christian-zervos

Sandvika natives, Einar Stray Orchestra are to indie music what the Divine Comedy are to alt-pop.  In fact, with his suave baritone and predilection for quirky, on-point lyrics and gregarious, orchestral manoeuvres, Einar Stray is for all intents and purposes, the Norwegian Neil Hannon.  Tbh, I can’t help fantasising about what spectacular sonic soap-operas the pairing of Stray with Hannon could magic-up … ah, one can dream.

Einar Stray’s five-piece ‘orchestra’, for orchestral they are, have just released ‘As Far As I’m Concerned‘ the second single from their upcoming album set for a 2017 release via Sinnbus & Toothfairy.  The follow-up to 2016’s ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’, it’s a lavish affair, awash with resplendent string sequences, bright vivacious melodies and smoothly manoeuvred time changes underpinned by dynamic contributions from the R/S.

Vocally, the sweet lightness of Ofelia Østrem Ossum’s soft mezzo is the perfect foil for the dark shade of Stray’s rich baritone, while lyrically, this cleverly worded opus centres on the theme of the fear of change. “The fear of turning into someone the old you despite. The fear of throwing your life away going in the wrong direction. Moving forward can be terrifying – yet it’s the only way.” 

ESO have announced an upcoming European tour kicking off in one of my favourite cities, Vienna, on 13th April. The tour will see them play countries such as Switzerland, Belgium and the UK amongst others but alas, no Irish dates seem to be on the cards! ESO are however lined-up to play Norway’s Trondheim Calling festival and for those of you who like me will be lucky enough to grace those snowy paths from 2nd to 4th February, full details of the artist schedule and conference programme are here.

2017 also sees the release of Einar Stray Orchestra’s third album, which, if the two superb singles are indicative of its overall quality, should be pretty much splendidly symphonic, colourfully creative and in two words, beyond impressive.

Full details of ESO’s tour and their upcoming album release can be found on their Facebook page.  Follow them there and on their Twitter page to keep up to speed with their musical escapades and a possible collaboration with our own Neil Hannon (well, stranger things have happened!).

To read about my own upcoming escapades over at Trondheim Calling, check into my blog, or hang out here on FB or Twitter.

Wardruna’s ‘Raido’ Is A Dramatic Journey Into A Mythical Past

wardruna

I’ve written about some diverse Norwegian music artists in the 18 months I’m running this blog, but never before have I happened upon a music project based on Nordic spiritualism.  “Who?” you might well ask, and if you did, you’d find about 44,000 FB fans shouting Wardruna back at you!

The brainchild of musician Einar Selvik, the project segued into a full-on musical going concern in 2003, and has since then, released three albums, the latest entitled ‘Runaljod – Ragnarok’, on the Indie Recordings/By Norse Music label.  The third Lp in the Wardruna Runaljod series was released in October and is the final chapter in the Elder Fuþark inspired trilogy.

The album’s lyrical content centres around the Norse myth of Ragnarök, a series of future events, including a great battle, foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number” of central figures from mythological deities, while “Runaljod is a song version of the Norse rune poem.”

The album’s lead single ‘Odal’, which hit the Norwegian airwaves in August, was followed by the current single release, ‘Raido‘, the video for which you can view below.  The word ‘Raido’, which means ride or journey, derives from the Old Norwegian word Ræið.

Sung in Norwegian, it is a powerful and commanding track, but for all its thunderous topsoil of braggadocio, the layers underneath are rife with emotion, humanity and a sense of belonging to and oneness with nature.  Opening with a percussive line not far removed from the hypnotic beat that was the spinal chord of Tears for Fears’ ‘Mad World’, the track augments into a breathtaking fusion of medieval Celtic spirituality and spine tingling Nordic chant.

This reviewer knows little about Norse mythology and understands even less about runes and fantastical deities, but if ever a song captured the essence of the pagan attunement with nature and the intense energy possessed of latter day spiritualists, then ‘Raido’ is it.  Emotionally charged, lyrically potent (the English translation is printed underneath the video), poetic, dramatic and creatively distinctive, it is not the music of everyday, but of days lost, of times gone by, yet in its midst it channels the eternal trinity of man-animal-nature and the unique and special relationship that exists between all three.

Wardruna is Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik and Lindy Fay Hella.  For more information on the band see their official website, http://www.wardruna.com/ . ‘Raido’ is on release now and the darkly dramatic accompanying video which contains some stunning nature photography, was directed by Finn, Tuukka Kos.  Watch it here.

Open Your Doors to The Hallway: ‘Vestad’ – Review

the-hallyway-by-jon-grimsgaard1
he-Hallway-by-Jon Grimsgaard

The genesis of The Hallway is a rather interesting one.  A confluence of musical strands from various latter and present day bands, this (member squared)*2 formation has quite the pedigree with Andreas*2 and Simen*2 coming from the good stock of Team Me, BLØSH, Carnival Kids & Co.

First formed in 2015, The Hallway had the domestic release of their debut mini-album ‘Vestad’ earlier this year.  It has now seen the light of Norwegian day in vinyl format, whilst simultaneously being unleashed onto the international market in digital form, all making for an incredibly busy promotional period for this talented quartet.

The band played Øya’s Klubbdagen earlier this month, which by all accounts was amazeballs; alas I did not get the full The Hallway experience due to my having a prior engagement with one Hanne Kolstø.  Judging by the hyperbolic reviews however, I wasn’t missed!

The Hallway Live at John Dee
The Hallway Live at John Dee

While it would be a natural reaction to compare and contrast the outputs of The Hallway with their various antecedents and/or alter-egos, I’ll leave that to others to verbalise.  Instead, I’ll move straight to ‘Vestad‘.

This hexagon opens with a forty second instrumental amuse bouche.  A slightly jarring salutation, ‘Hello’ is a brief scoop of dry acoustic guitar shot with a dash of drone.  Next up ‘Used to Know‘, and from the off you’re up to your neck in Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo and Ash.

Clean guitar lines are petulant in the face of the driving force of the bass, constantly pushing it back under the covers of classic rock drumming.  This is so multi layered that the guitars sound like an angry mob whose insistent metronomic rhythm drives straight through its heart via some pretty delightful xylophone twinkles.

Whether by default or too many years spent digesting American TV shows, more than many male Norwegian singers have a soft American inflection to their icy falsetto, the combination of which should land them somewhere in central Canada, but instead tends to put them in Billy Corgan territory.

The Hallway front-man Simen Schikulski’s vocal falls into that bracket, his voice having similar control, tension and attitude to the Smashing Pumpkin lead.  Schikulski, a master of nuance in a manner similar to Tim Wheeler, also has the same warm melodic undertones to his voice as the Downpatrick rocker.

The Hally -Jon-Grimsgaard
The Hallway -Jon-Grimsgaard

Where ‘Used to Know’ is in rousing Pumpkins’ terroir, nostalgic ‘Stay and Grow Old‘ is definitely in the anthemic rock-god mould of Green Day.

Here The Hallway have taken a tried and tested ‘All American’ alt-rock formula and converted it into an adrenalin pumper of a track with an huge sound to which they’ve added sprinkles of effulgent synth.

Yet, despite the fact that all the key ingredients are here – soaring melodies, thrum and pump, thrashing drums, fierce guitar sequences and wistful, wishful vocals, it somehow lacks bang for its buck. Notwithstanding that, it’s a quality, old school, classic indie rock anthem that is no doubt an huge crowd-rouser at the band’s live shows.

Next up is the track ‘Best Regards’ bringing with it a radical change in both tempo and direction. Shifting down gears to a rock-ballad that echoes mid-80s U2, ‘Best Regards’ catches the attention from the outset, holding it, very firmly in the grip of its vast yet pared back sound.

It kicks off with a melodramatic medley of noises similar to an orchestral warm up, before sliding into an acoustic guitar Cobain like rant that lasts for little over a minute.  A vehicle for Schikulski to vent his frustration, it’s a contradiction in terms, with it’s laid back slacker instrumental at odds with the trenchant vocal. Despite its brevity and irascible timbre, ‘Best Regards’ lures and fixes you like velcro into its micro-web.

One of my favourite tracks from ‘Vestad’.

Penultimate track ‘Million Ways’ is a bit more of the same (‘S&GO’) quintessential American College cum alt-rock.  Less tightly compacted, there’s a bit more space to the sound, and notwithstanding the addition of drum rolls, handclaps and more obvious synth lines, this is already charted territory.

With all the hyperventilating rise and fall of a heart monitor, the track rushes along like an unstoppable train: it’s a short, sharp rock shock, sure to liven things up and get the kids pogoing in any mosh-pit.

The EP or mini-album wraps with what is possibly its best track, ‘Air/Closer’. Definitely in the Green Day space, this is a darkly, intense thrum backlit by an incandescent chorus.  A finger-pointing, garrulous swipe at humanity viz our destruction of the environment, it’s a perfect manifestation of The Hallway’s keen vocal and instrumental talents, and as close to elegant as a rock track comes: there is something sublime about synth sampling strings that bring a discerning pathos to rock tracks.

Sometimes less is more and the restraint on this track allows the bands well honed musicianship to shine through.  A chord change build, a ruffle of portentous guitar licks and a drum solo with intent bring everything neatly to a close.

Something tells me the best is yet to come from The Hallway.  The quality song writing and talented musicianship are most definitely there, but their sound needs a little more exploration and evolution to bring it to the point where it will be both readily identifiable, and define them as a band.

To use a ragged cliché, The Hallway are definitely ‘ones to watch’. Hopefully they will give themselves the time and creative space to realise their true potential on their next recorded endeavours. 7/10.

You can follow The Hallway on Facebook and Twitter.  Their mini album, ‘Vestad’, is out now via Furuberget Records and available through all digital channels.

Tracklist

  1. Hello
  2. Used To Know
  3. Stay & Grow Old
  4. Best Regards
  5. Million Ways
  6. Air/Closer

No Forevers Don’t Promise Marriage, Just Great Music

nrwy_photo_sadan_ekdemir-crop
nrwy_photo_sadan_ekdemir-crop

Lying low in a hammock in the shade, out of the glare of the high Summer sun is a relatively new, cosily small and very chilled indie record label.  Going under the name No Forevers, it was set up in the Norwegian music hub of Trondheim in November 2014 by the not so small, but very VERY chilled, Jonny Hanger Humstad.  A dude of eclectic taste, with a penchant for ‘fine alcohol’, Sami music and baseball caps, Humstad is to the Norwegian music industry as rain is to Ireland.  There can’t be many folks working in the business who don’t already know Jonny, or, at least if they don’t know him, haven’t heard his name.

Here's Jonny!!
Here’s Jonny!!

Sometime musician, DJ, singer (uses term loosely), venue manager, band manager, label boss and lumberjack, Humstad has a keen ear and well honed antennae for picking up raw talent on his NF radar.

His No Forevers roster is made up of a close knit coterie of very diverse but exceptionally talented musicians from alt-jazz artist Kari Harneshaug (undoubtedly the Queen of TC2016) to the more pop ‘fluenced quartet Østfrost whose magical harmonium/viola combo and powerful live performances set them apart from the many others who tag themselves with the indie label. It is more like a familial community than an industry standard ‘sign on the dotted line’ label, and that’s the way both he and his artists like it.

This year, KlubbØya – the customary club night opener for Øyafestivalen (Norway’s answer to Glastonbury) and vehicle for showcasing indigenous emerging talent – will feature no less than four acts from that tightknit No Forevers family – Antler, nrwy, High Tone Low & Sgrow.

Antler Rockheim Feb 2016
Antler Rockheim Feb 2016

Antler are a relatively new young band who recorded and co-produced their first album back in 2015 with the folks at Greener Studios. ‘Bon Bons’ was debuted to much acclaim in April of this year, you can read my review here, and since its release, the band has been gigging furiously across the Norwegian circuit.  They have also been working on some new sounds … so watch this ”     ” for some new tuunnes.  Antler ‘live’, have to be seen to be believed – they are incredibly, stupendously & stupidly good.  I saw them when they played Rockheim during TC’16 and the packed-to-capacity audience was more than a little in awe.  Antler play Kampen Bistro 10pm (22.00) – be there, or miss out, BIG TIME.

Multifaceted nrwy are a serious ‘old skool’ rock outfit in the mould of Metallica and Black Sabbath with a hint of Manics and a nod to Queens of the Stone Age. Propulsive drum beats smashing against guitar chords akin to rolling thunder with controlled, forceful vocals at the helm, bear all the hallmarks of ‘classic rock’ in the true and original sense of the term.  Their single, ‘When All Else Fails’, which I reviewed and which was released last December, was followed up with the album, ‘Not Now’ which you can find on Spotify, Tidal and Amazon etc.  Be prepared to have your ears burnt and your nerve endings shot to shit.  Or, bring a pair of ear muffs.  Either way, they play Uhørt 9pm (21.00) … your call!

I was on holiday when the latest single from High Tone Low was released – so I missed all the fun, meh! ‘101’ is a psychedelic trip down a very rocky highway of fraught, zipping guitars, dreamy acid-trip vocal clouds – with some growls thrown in ad hoc for good measure –  and seriously compulsive beats.  The band are currently working on new sounds – we’re all ears guys. Anyone with a tendency towards multi-coloured, adventurous instrumental rock with a 70’s vibe, will need to get down with these dudes.  They rock the mic at SubScene 11pm (23.00) – I’m game!

Which just leaves us with these guys – experimental electronic duo, Sgrow.  With a new single due out this week – the 5th in fact – ahead of their set at MIR next Tuesday, these guys have a lot to be excited about.  Sgrow’s deliciously dark music came weaving its hypnotic spell on our world with the 2015 release of their debut album, ‘Terrors and Ecstasies’.  Part electro fantasy, part techno, Sgrow’s sound is as lush and rich as treacle.  Peppered with zipping bullets of electro-pulses that bring it to life it is topped with an ever-evolving vocal that scales from stringent iciness to whipped airy delicateness in sufficient spades to counter the dense electronic undergrowth.  Be prepared to be mesmerised at 9pm (21.00) in MIR! Smelling salts may be required!

Antler will play Kampen Bistro 22.00, details here

nrwy will play Uhørt 21.00, details here

High Tone Low will play SubScene Oslo at 23.00, details here

Sgrow will play MIR at 21.00, details here

For more information on the No Forevers label, jump aboard their Facebook page, here.  Full details of the festival programme and all participating artists as well as the festival environmental mission statement can be found on the Øyafestivalen website, http://oyafestivalen.no/  (click UK flag for English version).

Highasakite Say ‘Hello’ To Adele On UK TV

Camp Echo

Ahead of the international release of their album, ‘Camp Echo’ and a follow on promotional tour of Europe, Norwegian band Highasakite struck gold when they were invited to join ’80s singing wunderkind, Aled ‘Walking in the Air’ Jones on his ITV chatshow, ‘Weekend’, which he has been hosting since April 2014.

The band appeared on Aled’s show on Saturday morning, and their performance, which was nothing short of remarkable, sent both the in-house audience and TV viewers into raptures, to which the remarks posted on the Highaskite FB page can attest. Take this one from an Alex Cameron for example:  “I had never heard of you before today (sorry) but your performance was absolutely superb on TV this morning. Immediately bought the album and only have 6 days until I get the next one I believe :-).  Will try to get to Manchester to see you.

or this one from a Matthew Lee on Ingrid’s vocal delivery: “Her voice is so full in those high notes“.

If ever there was an ad for the power of a positive television performance, this is certainly it.

In a brave but clever move, Highaskite opted to perform a cover of Adele‘s ‘Hello‘, the lead track from her third and most recent album.  Brave, because not everyone is brass-ballsy enough to take on a song by one of the world’s most renowned and recognisable vocalists and, more-so to the point, it’s not everyone can get it right.  BUT it was also a cannily clever move, as by choosing a song that was bound to be at least hazily if not instantly recognisable to 99.99% of the viewing audience, and by nailing their performance, Highaskite were bound to stamp their name on x*millions people’s minds.  And nail it they did!

With a vocal delivery to challenge the tour-de-force that is Adele and give her a serious run for her money, Håvik hit those top notes with varying but well judged degrees of power and emotion. Undoubtedly gifted with a truly wonderful, textured voice, Ingrid’s performance was both emotionally honest and vocally immense.  Instrumentally, the performance was immaculate and confident, with a choice of percussion that was ingenious.

Highasakite’s delivery was remarkable for both the simplicity, and creativity of its styling and interpretation.  Overall from song choice through to execution, this was a PR and performance master-stroke, so much so I think you could safely say, that Highasakite have arrived.  Just to compound that arrival, the following day, the band’s song, Golden Ticket, received visi-play on Channel 4’s ‘The Big Breakfast’.  #arrived

Btw…I checked to see if Adele had posted a comment about the cover, but so far nothing!  Shame.  It’d be interesting to see how she receives it!

I am now more than a little excited at the prospect of seeing Highasakite live again this coming Sunday (22nd), when they play Whelan’s in Dublin on the second night of their Europe-wide tour which kicks off at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton.  Having seen them last December when they played Dublin’s Olympia with OMAM, I already knew they were ‘smokin” live.  Now having heard the singles from the new album and seen this cracker of a performance, I am stoked to be getting the chance to see them again on this their first headline tour.

Viewers in the UK can watch the full programme ‘Weekend’ here, while the rest of us ‘mere mortals’ can make do with the video below of Highasakite performing ‘Hello’ live on the show.  Their new album ‘Camp Echo’ will be released this Friday, May 20th, via Propeller Recordings.

You can follow Highasakite on social media or check out the finer details via their website…Full details of their Camp Echo promotional tour are below, together with a link to buy tickets!!

highasakite.no | facebook.com/highasakitemusic
@Highasakiteband | instagram.com/highasakiteband


19 MAY 2016 | THE GREAT ESCAPE (UK)
22 MAY 2016 | WHELAN’S, DUBLIN (IE)
23 MAY 2016 | DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER (UK)
24 MAY 2016 | VILLAGE UNDERGROUND, LONDON (UK)
26 MAY 2016 | PARADISO UPSTAIRS, AMSTERDAM (NL)
18 JUNE 2016 | BERGENFEST, BERGEN (NO)
24 JUNE 2016 | HURRICANE FESTIVAL, SCHEESSEL (DE)
25 JUNE 2016 | SOUTHSIDE FESTIVAL, NEUHAUSEN OB ECK (DE)
28 JUNE | GLEIS 22, MÚNSTER (DE)
29 JUNE 2016 | BI NUU, BERLIN (DE)
30 JUNE 2016 | BRÅVALLA FESTIVAL, NORRKOPING (SE)
1 JULY 2016 | ROSKILDE FESTIVAL (DK)
17 JULY 2016 | LATITUDE FESTIVAL (UK)
30 JULY 2016 | TROLLROCK, BEITOSTØLEN (NO)
12 AUGUST 2016 | ØYAFESTIVALEN, OSLO (NO)
19 AUGUST 2016 | PSTEREO, TRONDHEIM (NO)
20 AUGUST 2016 | PARKENFESTIVALEN, BODØ (NO)

TICKETS ON SALE NOW – FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT HTTP://HIGHASAKITE.NO/

De Vries Rework of Fufanu’s ‘Plastic People’ Is A Soundtrack To ’60s Sci-Fi

Image Brynjar Sigurðarson & Maxime Smári
Image Brynjar Sigurðarson & Maxime Smári

There’s something quite magnetically compelling about lopsided clamour laced with jet-tinged malevolence, which is exactly what you get on the upcoming single from Icelandic outfit, Fufanu.

Opening with a menacing bassline and unadorned percussion through which sinister synth sequences tiptoe sneakily, the Marius De Vries (Madonna, David Bowie) rework of Plastic People a track from the bands debut album, ‘Few More Days to Go‘ , is a darkly lit St. Elmo’s Fire, brimful of moody atmospherics and glowering wonk.

Skewed keys chords and disturbing vocals drowning in an ocean of reverb, transform this track into a twisted, blurred mess of epic post-punk proportions, but, it’s when the off-balance, slightly deranged guitar riffs and creepy sci-fi sounds kick in that you feel this track has missed its true vocation.  In an ideal ‘otherworld’, ‘Plastic People’ would be ‘teleported’ back to the early ’60s, wherein it would have made the perfect soundtrack for one of those more than a little bizarre B&W science fiction TV-shows, like ‘The Twilight Zone’, or ‘One Step Beyond’.

Fufanu seem to have mastered the art of creating hypnotically addictive if deeply unsettling goth-punk, the wooze generating headiness and dark toxicity of which, despite its disconcerting nature, prove compellingly fascinating.

Based around a core duo of Kaktus Einarsson (vox) and Gulli Einarsson (guitar), the Icelanders are fast gaining a reputation for being one of the most interesting and innovative experimental bands emerging out of the Nordic music scene.  They are currently in studio with Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) who already has Fufanu form, through his grungey rework of their single, ‘Ballerina in the Rain.  The Icelandic air must be a-spark with electrified expectation!

Fufanu ‘Plastic People’ (Mumu Radio Mix) [+ ‘Now’ (A&E Sounds Edit) & ‘Plastic People’ (BdVMdV Remix] will be released through One Little Indian on 17th June. One week later on 24th, they will issue a 16-track repackaged version of ‘Few More Days to Go‘.

Fufanu play the Artrocker Stage of The Latest Music Bar during Brighton’s ‘Great Escape‘ Festival Sat 21st May.  They will also play Iceland’s ‘Secret Solsticeon Fri 17th June (the same day as Radiohead).

Fiordmoss – ‘Madstone’ Single Review

Still courtesy of Fiordmoss & Jan Durina
Still courtesy of Fiordmoss & Jan Durina

The strangest concoction springs to mind when I listen to ‘Madstone’ from Fiordmoss.  Japan here, Bjork there, Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ around and about.  It has an air of 80s experimental electronica mixed with jungle drums & ‘Purple Rain’ percussion/electronic strobes.

Dark, haunting voids are spliced with smatters of twinkling synths, groans of electronic noises and jungle percussion with intent.  Intermittent interruptions of serrated drones and static friction intensify an already loaded atmosphere, seeping through which like a cold mist is the icy vocal of vocalist Petra Hermanová.

Fiordmoss are based in Berlin, but of Czech-Norwegian origin.  They’ve been around a few years now, developing experimental sounds and seem to have found their niche in slightly avant-garde dark electro-pop.  Definitely a band I would like to see live (check their live dates below), and certainly one I’ll be keeping an eye out for, from now on!

 

Good night wolf bite,  One of a kind
Lie low, wipe all traces of a fight
Charcoal blind foal, Limps by her side
Bow and arrow lead them to the hole
She may be the child of spring
Let her in to greet her king
She wore a madstone

Skin tight moonlight, Along her spine
Fireflies swarm wild in a chilling rite
Warm ink, sweet milk, Run down her thighs
Boil glow unknown, simmer until dawn
She may be the child of spring
Let her in and hear her sing
She wore a madstone

Madstone is available via bandcamp, here, and also via the following digital channels below.  Watch the self-produced visual for the single here, shot at various petrol stations and truck stops on the outskirts of Berlin, with the assistance of photographer, Jan Durina.

Spotify: http://bit.ly/1O6quFh
iTunes: http://apple.co/1TWuFe4
Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/1owRVU7

Fiordmoss play the Czech Rep on 18th, 19th March and again later in June, details here.