Archive for August, 2015

Interview: A Place to Bury Strangers

Monday, August 31st, 2015

A Place to Bury Strangers warp time and space around you. This is one of those bands where people really mean it when they say, “you’ve got to see them live.” The kaleidoscopic madness of light and sound all fucked up in a primal cacophony is the kind of spectacle you’ll be talking about in a decade. Here, APTBS’ arch-madman talks the new record, Transfixiation, and the changing landscape of indie rock in Brooklyn.

Matthew Tomich: To me, Transfixiation sounds a lot more kind of chaotic and freeform than your past work. What kind of album did you go into the studio expecting to make?
Oliver Ackermann: With this record, we were really trying to capture our live sound. It just seemed like we’d been playing so many shows while doing the Worship tour and we’d been, I thought, the best band we’d ever had, just with the band we have right now. And so right after that tour ended, we tried to go directly into the studio and record. We’d written a bunch of songs and we were going to write more and that was at least the initial plan. I don’t know if that necessarily even ended up happening, but we kind of discovered real quickly that all these ideas and methods that we had planned for how we were going to record had sort of disappeared and it became about capturing some really special moments. At least that kind of happened.

MT: Was it a more relaxed and chaotic process than what you’ve had in the past?
OA: I don’t know. We worked really hard. We worked ourselves kind of to the bone. I don’t know if it was necessarily relaxing. At some point, we even had almost a meltdown between the band, all of us just working too much together and working too much day and night, like the drummer getting tendinitis and stuff. We were just pushing ourselves too far. But you know, I think that’s what happens. You always have an idea of doing grand things and making things really crazy and over the top and you usually end up wearing yourself down to getting sick and having to take breaks.

MT: You recorded this in Norway, didn’t you?
OA: Part of the record was recorded in Norway and that was only a small part. Only two of the songs from the record were in Norway. There was this Norwegian collective which flew us out there and did this tour and we recorded with them maybe nine songs — all from Serena-Maneesh — in this studio, and two of them were on this record. That was just like amazing – to be out in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold. We’d step outside and there’s huge mountains and glaciers and stuff. I don’t know, it was just an awesome experience. If anyone gets the chance, they should do it.

MT: You mentioned you feel this is the best line-up you have with drummer Robi Gonzalez onboard – what has he brought that’s different to the group?
OA: It almost makes everything so much easier. I feel like right away he just hits crazy hard and he brings really interesting beats right away to the table. He’s just, as much as I’ve ever worked with, an extremely serious drummer. He can play stuff that’s as fast as I can ever imagine writing a song and that’s really awesome. He also just puts his all into creating beats and going in interesting, different places. That’s kind of cool to work with someone who pushes your idea of what music is and what it could be.

MT: I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the venue closures that have been happening in Brooklyn. Obviously Death by Audio is where you based your pedal manufacturing studio, and then Glasslands closed at the end of last year, and Brooklyn Night Bazaar closed about a week after you guys played. From the outside, Brooklyn’s still framed as the modern nexus of indie rock – how has that fracturing brought about by those closures affected you and the community at large?
OA: It’s kind of always been like this. It’s always going to be a revolving door of venues and things. That’s just kind of life in New York. It constantly pulls the rug out from under you and it’s kind of an interesting thing. But I don’t know if humans or people are supposed to necessarily go through that constantly — the places that you frequent and like to go to are constantly closing down. Constantly your close friends are moving away or moving to other neighbourhoods that are too hard to go visit and stuff, so it’s kind of tiring at times, where everything’s sort of against you. But it’s also kind of good too – you can embrace that. It’s sort of what life is about; everyone you know ends up dying and all sorts of things happen. It’s maybe life at hyper-speed or something. There’s really still so much going on in New York and in Brooklyn there’s lots of cool clubs that are opening up and things going on. You just have to constantly re-find them and find those places.

MT: Do you think the roles those buildings play is overstated – that they’re more about mythmaking around the scenes and there’s actually still that community that will always function regardless of the space?
OA: I think so. It seems like it. I still know tonnes of really great bands, and there are still cool people who are doing other cool community spaces. It’s definitely a shame. It’d be a sweet if these places still existed because they’re on an upwards trajectory when they’re getting shut down. Death By Audio was just getting better and better and better, so it’s just a shame that you’ve got this place where all this culture is getting better and more well-known and cooler and cooler bands are coming, more fun events, more artists and everything – it all kind of comes together. To shut that down is sort of, in some ways, a shame. Maybe it’s started heading in some sort of bad direction but some of these places are going in a good place so there’s no need for those. It’s really hurting the community that’s being built so there’s things which have to start over. But I don’t know. We’ll see. Maybe it’s all on its way out right now and the whole scene is crumbling, but it’s kind of hard to tell. I think that going over to other places in the US and all over the world, I think there’s a whole movement against this free artistic movement, especially in the US. But there’s still always going to be kids and people wanting to do crazy shit so hopefully they’ll be able to hold on and make it work.

MT: Are you still basing yourself and your pedal manufacturing studio out of Williamsburg or are you somewhere else now?
OA: No, now we’re in Clinton Hill in Brooklyn so it’s another neighbourhood a few neighbourhoods away, it’s near the navy yard. You know, it’s going alright but it’s tough – those things that we did in Williamsburg took us years to build that up and work it into what it was so kind of back again at square one or two or whatever and trying to rebuild something up and see what happens.

MT: Have you noticed some other people from that community kind of migrating down that way – to like the Cobble Hill and Red Hook area?
OA: People move all over the place, really. There’s even other people who move way far out. There’s a lot of people that we’re living with in these areas where you’re living in these cheap and affordable warehouse spaces because they don’t want to work some corporate job and they want to be DJs at radio stations and do these art projects or teachers and stuff, so it’s hard for them to even afford to move to Red Hook. So they have to move way out to the beach or to Queens or something. I don’t know. We’ll see what ends up happening but it’s sort of spreading things out for now.

MT: Just talking about your pedals again – are you bringing any new toys to Australia for this tour?
OA: I think we will, yeah. We just did a custom edition of Interstellar Overdrive for Dion, the bass player for A Place to Bury Strangers. It’s tweaked to just his liking. We just came out with a new pedal, the Waveform Destroyer. I’m not sure if we’ll be bringing any or not. We’ll see.

MT: I saw that you’re playing with the Jesus and Mary Chain in LA soon and I know a lot’s been made about your love for that band. Is that a dream come true for you, to be able to share a stage with them?
OA: Yeah. We’ve done it a couple of times and it is in some ways. I guess I’ve done it a couple of times already and maybe the excitement has worn off in some sort of way. I don’t know, it’s just going to the shows – it’s kind of cool. It gives me that sort of warm feeling in my heart. I guess I just always wish that they were still going crazy or a little bit more fucked up than they are. It just seems they’re not maybe into it as much as I would’ve hoped or something. But who knows, I guess we’ll see what happens.

MT: When did you play with them before?
OA: We played with them in maybe 2007, maybe 2008 at Webster Hall. And then we played with them recently at the Levitation Festival in Austin, so they were cool. But the times when I remember when I saw them when I was younger – it could just be that it’s a faint memory, but it just seemed so much more crazy. So to see them now it’s like some older dudes playing their songs that you like. There’s nothing of that moment of unpredictability where maybe they’ll fly off the handle and something really crazy’s going to happen. There was that loss of some of that excitement. But you know, that’s one of those things that =drew me to some of those bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain stuff – you thought it was someone playing a chainsaw and not a guitar. You know that’s not going to happen. You know it’s going to be some dudes playing some tunes up there. I’m thrilled to get the opportunity, but I don’t know.

MT: What are some other bands right now that are exciting you in that way – flying off the wall and doing crazy shit, the kind of stuff that you guys have made a reputation for?
OA: There’s a band Yonatan Gat which is pretty awesome. It’s the dude form Monotonix. It’s really wicked – it’s kind of Middle Eastern music which is really crazy. There’s this band called The Dreebs from Brooklyn where they’re just insanely dynamic – it just explodes and erupts into these sort of furies of some sort of electro insanity. Or this band Destruction Unit from Arizona or something, where they just destroy what they’re doing without looking back and with no fear, just fucked up and crazy and kind of cool. Those are all very different bands but it all sort of encapsulates in different ways that kind of energy and stuff.

MT: You guys are coming here in September and you’ve lined up a US tour through November, right? What’ve you got planned beyond that?
OA: We have a European tour that will happen right after that US tour and then I think we’re going to take a break for a couple of months. Hopefully we’ll be recording another record maybe and probably some more touring when the next year starts.

A Place to Bury Strangers land in Australia this week. See them with Melbourne’s Flyying Colours on the following dates:

Friday September 4 — Corner Hotel, Melbourne
w/ Luna Ghost

Saturday September 5 — Manning Bar, Sydney
w/ Narrow Lands

Sunday September 6 — Crowbar, Brisbane
w/ Dreamtime

Tickets on sale now through, Oztix and venue outlets.

Strange & Primitive — Strange & Primitive

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Strange & Primitive’s debut album never goes the way that you expect. There’s violence, but it’s always restrained. There’s tension, but it never gets resolved. And all the while it’s driven on by a relentless electronic beat that makes you think the band is building towards something, yet the payoff never comes. The mix of goth, pop, post-punk, and electronic elements, especially in the opening track “Difficulties Be Damned,” makes for an early comparison to Xiu Xiu. But the vocalist is nowhere near as tortured or depraved as Jamie Stewart, sounding unusually calm within the chaos that surrounds him. The songs themselves are closer to the sort of new romantic synth-pop you’d expect to hear on a 1980s Depeche Mode album. But they’re nowhere near as lyrical as Depeche Mode, missing all of Martin Gore’s trademark wit and gothic sexuality that helped sculpt the band into the icons they’ve become today. So they’re like Xiu Xiu without the emotions, mixed with Depeche Mode without the lyrics, which doesn’t sound like it should be any good. But it is good, and it gets better the longer that you listen to it. So what’s going on with the album? It’s a little hard to get your head around at first, but as you listen to it, you start to find a couple of consistent threads.

First of all, Strange & Primitive are amazing composers, capable not only of referencing just about every 1980s musical sub-genre you can think of, but also bringing in sounds from more exotic material too, like the synthesized wooden flutes in the instrumental “Keep Your Eyes on Daylight” or the strange falsetto vocals in “Seduced by Bluff.” Secondly, the music seems to change in style almost every time you think you’ve got it narrowed down, veering dramatically from electronic post-punk to experimental ambience and onto something closer to progressive rock. The band describe themselves as post-punk and you can hear it in the drums and the tone of their guitars, but the album itself is harder to identify. It sticks to one style for a couple of tracks, then spins out unexpectedly into something else, repeating the cycle over and over again for close to an hour. And all the while there’s this feeling of detachment to it all. Like a scientist running tests through a machine.  After a few tracks you get the idea that it’s not about the lyrics, not about emotions. It’s about the formal qualities of music, and what happens when you put a song together. It’s more like art music than anything you’d usually hear in punk or goth, and once you start to think of it from that perspective, the album starts to make a lot more sense. Strange & Primitive are throwing ideas around, seeing what works and what doesn’t, creating different kinds of pop music out of a carefully curated set of sounds and inspirations. Their music displays obvious connections to the broader Canadian post-punk scene, channelling the explosive sound of bands like Spectres and Viet Cong, but it represents a more measured, intellectual approach to making music when placed beside these other bands, focussed on nuances in melody rather than the raw expression of apathy or discontent. Once you approach it from the proper angle, you start to see how unique it really is with those melodic vocals and that ever-shifting mix of sounds and inspirations.

The biggest issue with the album is its length. Strange & Primitive come up with a lot of interesting ideas in this record’s 50 minute runtime, but they play them out until monotony. This, coupled with the academic nature of the music, makes it difficult to listen to at times. It lacks the force of Algiers, or the nostalgia of The Associates. But stick with it, if you can. This kind of art-school dropout music is hard to come by lately, and if Strange & Primitive make their next release just a little shorter, a little tighter, give it just a little bit more edge, then they will quickly see themselves become enormous. It’s a flawed, but exciting debut that contains within it the seeds for massive cult success. That sort of album doesn’t happen every day. It deserves at least a moment of attention.

Strange & Primitive is out now.

Interview: Flyying Colours

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Between touring Europe and the UK, releasing their second album, ROYGBIV, and supporting Johnny Marr on this Australian tour, it’s been a busy year for Flyying Colours. Before they join A Place to Bury Strangers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane next week, Matthew Stoff spoke with lead singer Brodie Brümmer to talk touring the old world and how a Reddit post led to an international distribution deal.

Matthew Stoff: So your band was recently announced as the support act for the upcoming national tour of US band, A Place to Bury Strangers. Are you excited?

Brodie Brümmer: Very much so. It’s pretty great. I saw them last time I was at the Corner Hotel, and now we’re playing with them at the Corner Hotel. They’re one of the loudest bands I’ve ever seen. It’s going to be great. We’re playing with some friends of ours as well, Luna Ghost — they’re a great band, you should check them out.

MS: You’ve been touring constantly since the international release of your latest album, and the local version just dropped earlier this month. Do you think you’ll slow down anytime soon?

BB: No. The only reason we’d slow down or stop touring is to make our record, which is what I want to do now. I think the thing with touring is that if you just do it, things will just come up, you know — like the A Place To Bury Strangers tour, which is going to be a great opportunity. And then we had Johnny Marr when we came back from Europe, and we’ve got our own single tour that I guess we’re kind of in the middle of now, and our EP tour in September, and there’ll be different things towards the end of the year. In Australia, it’s not very exhausting at all in my opinion. It’s nothing like playing in the Europe or the UK when we were over there. We played that many shows. It’s a bit different in Australia.

MS: How do you find the Australian scene compares to what you saw in Europe? Was it different to playing shows in Australia?

BB: Yeah, I mean, people were a lot more fanatical about music over there, less worried about being cool or whatever it is. I think people just like music over there and I think that we experienced that. The kind of music that we make, being shoegaze, and the kind of audiences we were playing for and where we were over there in Europe, that’s essentially where this kind of music came from, so it was very well received.

MS: Yeah, I think you’ve got a really British sound in comparison to a lot of the other stuff that’s coming out of Australia lately. Really traditional shoegaze, in a way. Do you think that had any impact on your reception overseas?

BB: It’s not generally contrived. We don’t necessarily set out to make that type of sound, but yeah, I think a lot of music coming out in Australia is very different to what we do. A lot of bands in Australia play guitar and it’s usually either a slacker indie sort of thing or an all-rock thing, like Kinghook or something like that. I’m not into any of that crap, I think it’s all rubbish.

MS: Fair enough. So, what are you into? Where do you find your inspiration?

BB: Me? I don’t know, anything and everything. That being said, our Facebook page really sums it up. Our influences are listed as Fleetwood Mac and My Bloody Valentine. That’s pretty correct. So you know, we listen to absolutely everything and all different kinds of stuff, but I think it just culminates in this 90s-inspired, shoegaze type of thing. Sonic Youth and Nirvana were two bands that really got me into playing guitar. That was kind of what I loved but I don’t know. It’s not like we’re trying to be anything. It just kind of comes out a certain way. That’s what bands like us and Luna Ghost and Contrast and some other bands in Melbourne are about. We’re trying to be a guitar band, full of loud guitars and not be rock and roll or pop or something. You can still have loud guitars and not be like that. You know what I mean?

MS: Yeah, you’re loud and rocky, but at the same time you’re quite melodic.

BB: That’s what I love about music and I think that’s how Nirvana came to be who they were in the end. Because it was still loud guitar music that got people going, but at the same time, Kurt Cobain was a really genuine songwriter who was quite melodic too.

MS: You guys are basically like that, but with a really psychedelic vibe as well.

BB: Exactly, and I guess that’s just drawing on all our other influences. That’s the benefit of it being 2015 and not 1991. We’ve had a lot of stuff happen between then and now that we get to draw from as well.

MS: Yeah, and the internet means we’ve got more access to those influences than ever before.

BB: Definitely.

MS: Was it also helpful in marketing you to overseas communities?

BB: Yeah. I mean, it’s the only way it would have been even possible. We got our label over there, Club AC30. That came about by someone posting about us on the shoegaze subreddit. Club AC30 saw the song, listened to it and asked us if we wanted to put it out through them. And we’d only really just put the album out in Australia, it had only just been distributed here. But they really have their shit together. They know what they’re doing. They’re a very specific label for our kind of music, and they just took the EP and ran with it. We got a lot of attention over there in the UK particularly just by going through AC30 and Shelflife in the US as well. They’re both kind of varied labels, but genre specific labels. So straight away it puts you in that area.

MS: I think it’s a popular sound in Europe at the moment, particularly in the UK as well. Lots of shoegaze specific radio stations where you guys would fit in.

BB: Definitely.

MS: It’s been a bit of a whirlwind success in some ways.

BB: Yeah, it’s just been awesome. It’s cool as well to be able to go overseas. I’d never been before in my life, so it was really cool to go the UK and Europe and play a bunch of shows. People actually knew our music and wanted to see us. It was great.

MS: So what are your plans for the rest of the year? Do you have any new songs you’re working on?

BB: Oh yeah, we’re going to record a full length album by the end of the year. Whether or not we finish it is another question. We’ll finish up this run of shows Melbourne, then we’ve got the A Place to Bury Strangers tour, then one more before the end of the year, but mainly we’ve just got a lot of new material that we’re working on. I think it’s that thing, you know — you get to that certain point where you’ve played so much live that it’s really exciting to go to the studio, even just the rehearsal room, and make music for no one but yourself. I’m really looking forward to that.

Flyying Colours join A Place to Bury Stranger on their Australian tour on the following dates:

Friday September 4 — The Corner, Melbourne
w/ Luna Ghost
Saturday September 5 — Manning Bar, Sydney
w/ Narrow Lands
Sunday September 6 — Crowbar, Brisbane
w/ Dreamtime

Tickets on sale now through, Oztix and venue outlets.

ROYGBIV is out now through Shelflife.

A Minute With Luna Ghost

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Before they kick off the most effect-pedal-heavy show of the year at the Corner in Melbourne with A Place to Bury Strangers and Flyying Colours on September 4, we spend a minute with Luna Ghost and find out what’s new.

Describe your music in five words or less.
Neo-psych fuzz-verb’n’roll .

What’s going on in the world of Luna Ghost?
Mostly finishing up tunes for our first album/trying to find money to record it.

What motivates you to make music?
Our lives revolve around music. We listen to music everyday, so why not make some too? And if someone likes it along the way then that’s a really good feeling.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
High points are always making that connection with people through music — if the crowd’s getting into it or someone lets you know they liked the show or an aspect of it, it means we’re at least doing something right. Playing in such a rich community of awesome musicians is something else. As for low points, as long as there are still venues supporting live music, there aren’t too many lows. We feel very blessed.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Well definitely APTBS new album Transfixiation! There’s also The Soft Moon who are pretty sweet. Night Beats, The Black Ryder, The Laurels and heaps more.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
That’s a tough question. We couldn’t eat me [Sean] first because I’m all bones. We couldn’t eat Daniel because his diet is ice coffee and beer so he wouldn’t taste too great. That leaves us with Chris and Pete. I guess whoever loses a fight to the death between them.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Our bass player Daniel “BOG” Patterson has lately become so confident in himself, he now demands to be worshiped as a ‘God’. He’s obnoxious and out of control. I can’t remember the last time I saw him without an iced coffee in his hands.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Icehouse would be playing “Great Southern Land” for hours on end inside the realisation of that painting Shane Warne has in his house. The VB would be flowing endlessly. Then all our favourite bands would get together and play “Get Free” by The Vines while Craig smokes all Warnie’s darts and trashes the place letterman style. Then, the theme song for “Hard Yakka” by Mike Brady would play at exactly midnight and we’d all get in utes Mad Max style and drive off into the desert together.

Luna Ghost join Flyying Colours in support of A Place to Bury Strangers at the Corner Hotel on Friday, September 4. Tickets on sale now through

Noiseweek: Sunn O))), My Disco, Iceage, Pere Ubu, Heads.

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


South Of No North: Greg Anderson Of Sunn O))) & Goatsnake Interviewed | The Quietus

“Honestly, I’m both surprised and grateful about it every single day. When we first started no one, and I mean no one, really cared. And, if I’m to be really, really honest, we didn’t really care. Especially about what people thought. We just wanted to experiment and play music together, really the audience, the idea that people would actually listen to it was kind of an afterthought, we were really making music for ourselves – in some ways Sunn O))) is a very selfish project. I mean, we weren’t even sure if we were ever going to play live, we imagined that it would just remain a studio project. And then when we did start playing live eventually it really started connecting with people and honestly that kind of gave me a lot of hope for people because it’s obviously very difficult, very challenging music – I was like, ‘Wow! People can get into this? That’s awesome!’ Because you wouldn’t expect most people – or really anyone – to be that into it. So yeah, I totally see where you’re coming from and I kind of agree. I think Sunn O))) somehow connects with people on this super primal level – it’s very real, but at the same time the music helps create this alternate reality, and people seem to want to be in that dimension for a couple of hours or so.”

Does Anybody Even Have Time For An 80-Minute Album? | NPR

“It’s interesting to think about the different ways that album length has evolved over time. For most of history in the album era, it was defined by format — first the 45 minutes or so of an LP, then the 80 minutes of a CD. In the LP era, you really had to justify the additional expense of production and the fact that you’d have to charge more. With CDs, that was no longer an issue, and in the ‘90s in particular you had some people feeling “ripped off” if an album only had 45 minutes of music, so in some cases artists would put on CD-only bonus tracks to make it seem like they were making the most of the format. But then of course file sharing and digital files changed all that, and suddenly, you could have albums be as long or short as you wanted very easily. There was an initial trend toward shorter releases, experimenting with a four-song or eight-song release, like the mini-albums Robyn released in the run-up to Body Talk.

But the longer albums now, in a lot of cases, and especially in all of these cases you mentioned, is a way to say, “This is important. You are going to have to spend time with this.” It’s a little harder to make an “event” out of a release if it’s 35 minutes long. The initial feeing is, “This is all I could do.” Whereas these [long] releases convey the idea of sprawling masterpieces, and by extension, they are presented as demanding art. I do think that, even though artists want to say, “This should be taken whole,” in the vast majority of cases the albums are rarely ever experienced that way. It’s a little bit of a thing where artists present the work this way and the listeners kind of play along, and may even pay lip service to the idea, but probably the truth of it is that people are picking and choosing.”

Pere Ubu’s Dave Thomas talks being an underground legend and why he won’t call himself special | Noisey

“I don’t like photos. I don’t want to waste my time generating the limitless supply the industry requires. I know what I look like. I know what my mother looks like. I recognize her every time. What do I need a photo for? The government wants photos. Whatever the government wants I try to avoid. Good basic policy. I’m not in the business of being a pop star. I am a musician. The eye is a deceiver. It relies on the physical world and can be too easily fooled. It takes only 24 frames a second to deceive the eye into seeing real motion. It takes a minimum of 44,100 frames a second to deceive the ear. Sound is the authentic expression of human consciousness. The world is silent. Sound only happens inside the head of conscious beings. It is the by-product of consciousness. Why waste time with anything less?”


Heads. — At the Stake

Chris Breuer’s bass sounds like oozing pus, and I mean that as the highest compliment. Heads. imbue this slithering Melvins track with intoxicating menace thanks to the snarling tone of Ed Fraser’s flat-out evil intonations, along with his swampy guitar tones and the plodding rhythms. If the future of Heads. sounds more like this — brooding, meditative and plain evil — sign me up.

My Disco — King Sound

This is the the darkest track My Disco have ever made. While everything on 2010’s Little Joy was vibrant, King Sound is a faded strobe light in an empty prison cell. There’s a distinct Swans feel here, from the ritualistic rhythms to Liam Andrews’ prayer-like repetition of the song’s title. King Sound is taken from Severe, out October 30 through Temporary Residence.


Iceage — Untitled (Live at Pitchfork Festival)

Pitchfork saved the best footage of last month’s Chicago festival ’til last, finally uploading clips of Iceage performing this new, as-yet-untitled track alongside The Lord’s Favorite. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is as magnetic as ever, slinking and slithering around the stage, singing from the floor and equal parts confidence and nonchalance. No one else right now is making music or playing shows that feel so fucking vital.

Anger Management: Tau Cross

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

There’s a famous quote from producer Brian Eno about The Velvet Underground: “Although the Velvet Underground didn’t sell many albums, everyone who bought one went on to form a band.” Perhaps the same can be said of UK crust punk/metal godfathers Amebix. Bands diverse as Neurosis, Sepultura, Napalm Death, Bathory and a million crust bands owe a tip of the hat at the very least to Amebix.

Tau Cross is a new project that features the booming roar of former Amebix frontman/bassist Rob “The Baron” Miller (who is a self taught sword smith!). Joining him in this cross-continental musical journey are Away from Voivod on drums, Jon Misery (from Misery, duh) and Andy Lefton on guitars. First impressions suggest a very heavy late-period Killing Joke/80’s post-punk influence. I’m also reminded, oddly, of VHOL’s self titled-debut from 2013.

There’s some really good tracks in the first half. A mid-paced chug dominating the feel of songs like “Lazarus” and “Fire In The Sky.” The band attempt some slower more epic numbers such as “Midsummer” and “Hangmans Hyll,” but on my first listens I found these tracks a little dull (although Hangmans Hyll is probably a good drunken singalong anthem for some). Further listens reveal these tracks to have grown on me a little bit.

I really enjoyed the slow burn of “We Control The Fear” featuring an acoustic intro, marching beats and violin before the booming Lemmy-via-Cronos vocals kick in. An unexpected highlight for sure.

“Prisoner” is a late album highlight with its central chant of “sex, war, science, religion.” Tau Cross grows with repeated listen, more often than not getting the head banging.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

PREMIERE: Stream Making’s shattering debut LP, Highlife

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Like a maximalist My Disco, Making strike like a sonic punch to the solar plexus. Highlife is their debut record, a frantic kaleidoscope of precision noise rock, all cascading guitars and shotgun rhythms. The Sydney trio make a beautiful cacophony with their creative destruction, crafting complex melodies only to shatter them moments later. On each of Highlife’s six tracks, there’s a nervous feeling like the glass is about to break, the walls are about to collapse and every structural foundation is moments from fracturing into shards. Highlife is the sound you hear in your head when the fears that keep you up at 4am come true.

It’s lucky Highlife ever came to be. After gathering dust in label limbo for months that stretched into more than a year, Making got tired of broken promises and pulled the plug on their relationship with their would-be label benefactor. Now, Making’s first album finally sees the light of day through Trait Records this September. Listen to the exclusive full stream below:

Highlife is out September 4 and available for pre-order now through Trait Records.


September 5 — Crowbar, Brisbane
September 11 — Black Wire Records, Sydney
September 12 — Public Bar, Melbourne

Bell Witch — Four Phantoms

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Bell Witch are comprised of just two members. Even now, as I spin Four Phantoms for perhaps the fiftieth time this year, my mind boggles at how two men could conjure up such a immense, tectonic sound.

Bell Witch’s instrumentation is a little unconventional: bassist Dylan Desmond utilises a six string bass guitar and a two-handed tapping technique which allows him to play bass and melody lines simultaneously. As if that weren’t enough, he does so with incredible feeling and nuance.

Four Phantoms is built around a concept: each of its four tracks tells of an apparition condemned to an eternity of torture by one of the four elements (earth, fire, water and air). In isolation, the idea sounds cliché — even cartoonish — but Bell Witch execute it with such power and precision that Four Phantoms truly conjures up an image of transcendental beings screaming from some ghostly realm of the spirit, expressing a misery and pain beyond this plane of existence.

At its heaviest, listening to this record is like being enveloped in thick, sonic magma. Amplifiers crackle and splutter with distortion, the drone of the bass so full of warm sub-frequencies that its rumble becomes more a body-feeling than a sound. These are the moments in which the enormity of the forces containing the apparitions becomes apparent; in which you become aware of the full power of gravity, warping time and space in order to hold the dense husks of dead stars in their cosmic orbit. The spirits are left to scream and rage with a pain and hatred bordering on insanity, their futile cries unheard in the purgatorial void.

But Bell Witch also possess a beautiful sense of space. In their quieter moments, the duo create a remarkable, ethereal atmosphere in which the apparitions whisper their mournful fate over delicate bass melodies; their sorrow gently drifting across the plane. These moments of longing and reflection reveal the band’s true strength: by so effectively juxtaposing elements of light and dark, they are able to produce nuanced expressions of both beauty and misery; brutality and fragility; rage and resignation.

This is classic, cathartic doom executed to perfection. It is miserable to be sure, but also profoundly beautiful, at once expressing the cold, emptiness of death alongside a touching longing for life. Four Phantoms is a high-water mark for the genre that will be very difficult to exceed.

Four Phantoms is out now through Profound Lore Records.

Bolt Gun — Iron Surgeon

Monday, August 17th, 2015

There is a view that metal in Australia, even in the underground, has been more than happy to stick to a business plan built from anachronisms both sonic and conceptual. This accusation bears the character of a certain laziness. Or, perhaps it is wrought from the overwhelming prospect of trying to find needles within the haystack that is the world of digitally available music. Scenes globally are full of bands that choose to emulate and go for tried and true formulae from technical death metal through to the black arts. The bands a writer is most often directly contacted by or encounters most readily are often of this ilk. There’s simply nothing exceptional about Australia when it comes to this phenomenon. For writers who accept the onus to mine more deeply and thoroughly, beneath the visible crust, there is plenty of invention and promise evident within the Australian underground. Some of these artists, such as Hope Drone, are breaking out of obscurity and gaining the attention they deserve. Other continually progressing treasures remain hidden and underappreciated for the time being, such as the project called Bolt Gun.

Bolt Gun formed in 2012, originating as a power electronics solo project before founding member Andrew teamed up with his good friend Jonathon, resulting in the emergence of more black metal and doom influences in their overall sound. As passionate fans of film directors such as David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovsky, Krzysztof Koz?owski and particularly Konstantin Lopushansky, the band’s inspirations drawn from these directors led to an emphasis on vast, cinematic compositions. Alongside these picturesque motivations, musical influences reflect a broad and encompassing love of experimental music, from Burzum to Swans, Phillip Glass, Laibach, and Brighter Death Now to give some examples,

With contributing members over the course of Bolt Gun’s existence hailing from Perth, Melbourne and Europe, they produced their first recording in the middle of 2014. At just under half an hour in length, the epic but underrated Exit As A Swarm expressed a thoughtful blend of drone, ambient, noise, post-rock and black metal of tremendous atmosphere and anguish. The EP provided another example challenging the perception of heavy music in the Australian underground being content to play it safe, full of potential and signs of Bolt Gun’s creative ambition. Content with a focus entirely upon the creation of music, Bolt Gun have remained something of a secret. Recently, the band completed and digitally released their second recording, Iron Surgeon, emphasizing that it is time that they were drawn out of obscurity.

Iron Surgeon begins with churning reverberant drone, pulsating and understated distortion churning just beneath the waves. Slowly, a mantra of bass emerges, seasoned with cymbals and sparing percussion. A guitar releases beautiful flourishes of minimal leads before switching to graceful ringing strums. The drones intensify, all things tying together as an evocation of foreboding and hypnotic kraut ambience.

These portentious and subtly evolving loops erupt suddenly into Iron Surgeon’s second part, the bass motif interpreted through a stately downtempo black metal filter, each call answered with vox infused with a post-hardcore or blackened death spirit, like that of Aldrahn on Blood Must Be Shed. Tremolo picking heralds a transmutation into total sonic fury that draws references from the best of second wave BM. The violence gives way once again to the processional, guitars buzzing with anger all the while, building in volume and reverberance before ripping back one final time into a pyrotechnic storm of destruction.

“III” closes Iron Surgeon as a separate piece, unlike the conjoined nature of the first two parts. This finale is pure ambience, drawing from all of the waves of sound throughout the record’s half hour. Piercing distorted electronic noise and looping waves of feedback swarm before dropping off into an idyllic minimal ambient trance.

Iron Surgeon is an exciting progression following on from Exit As A Swarm. There is the suggestion of future live performances in the pipeline, when the members can get together, and Bolt Gun’s devotion to epic compositions and blending exhausting intensity with soothing calm promises a great experience should live appearances eventuate. Their music, bred from such a diverse and avant garde pool of influence, is well worth taking your time to acquire and to keep your eye on in the future.

Iron Surgeon is available now through Bolt Gun’s Bandcamp.

Noiseweek: Depeche Mode, GWAR, Lollapalooza, Sumac & Tideland

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Are Depeche Mode Metal’s Bigget Secret Influence? | Rolling Stone

“As with like-minded groups the Cure and New Order, Depeche Mode’s mid-Eighties appeal to Future Metal Leaders of the World lied in an almost morbid, matter-of-fact gothy iconoclasm. What set them apart from their peers, though – other than a sparing use of guitar – were the ornate lattices of synthesizer counterpoints and clanging rhythms that defined their albums beginning with 1984’s Some Great Reward (and its hit “People Are People”) onward. It’s a sound that has gone on to inspire many industrial bands, notably Nine Inch Nails and Ministry (though the latter, who started out sounding like Depeche Mode, would later disavow them). That sound would become increasingly sexually charged and trance-inducing on albums like 1986’s Black Celebration, the following year’s Music for the Masses and their masterpiece Violator.”

Alternative nation’s last stand: Lollapalooza 1995, an oral history | Washington Post

“Lollapalooza ’95 would mark alt-rock’s peak, and the beginning of its decline. Metallica would headline the festival the next year, radio station megashows would begin to compete for headliners and the genre eventually collapsed on itself with the arrival of shamelessly commercial bands such as Matchbox Twenty and Third Eye Blind.
But on the road, in those twilight days of alt-rock, life was crazy, fractious, boring — and hot. While some made friends for life, there were outcasts, at least one backstage brawl and even an altercation with the audience.. It was the world’s strangest summer camp, populated by artsy rock stars, a disappearing diva and one giant, inflatable Buddha.”


Tideland — All I Know

There’s an earnest quality behind the slacker vocals of this first track from Tideland’s Love Luster. You hear it in the verses more than anything else — those subtle fluctuations in delivery that expose an emotional nerve and make the song all the more endearing. It’s all guitars awash the rest of the time, and even though this kind of song could’ve easily been made two decades, there’s a timeless vitality to Tideland’s irresistible hooks. All I Know is out August 21 through Robotic Empire.


GWAR and Regional Identity in Richmond, VA | TEDxRVA

Though this particular GWAR performance is Cuttlefish– and beheading-free, there is a de-skinning to introduce this thesis on the relevance of GWAR to Richmond, VA, courtesy of GWAR Slave Dr. Michael Bishop. In his talk, Bishop examines how the coalescence of Richmond’s urban decay and the GWAR members’ academic disillusionment with Virginia Commonwealth University led to the creation of one of the most fascinating and enduring art projects-turned-global-musical-phenomenon’s in the the last half-century.

Sumac — Live at Warsaw

There are few things on this Earth heavier than the force of Aaron Turner, Nick Yacyshyn and Brian Cook. This live clip from a recent show at Warsaw in New York shows you why the trio is the best supergroup in metal right now.