The Leaf Library 2019UK ensemble The Leaf Library are about to release a new album, “The World Is A Bell”, another (giant) step in their on-going journey to perfect their unique style of folk-ambient melodic drone-pop. Here’s the radio edit of the first single from the album, “Hissing Waves”:

The Leaf Library style is built on hypnotic repetitive intertwining of rhythms, electric and acoustic instruments, textures and tones, and voices. It’s still more ambient/ experimental electronic folk pop than psychedelic rock or electronica, however this new album leads The Leaf Library into new even more experimental territory.

“The World Is A Bell” is an engaging and immersive meditation in accessible exploratory minimalist melodic drone-based music.  The double-helix spiral strands of music and voice twist and loop around on themselves, each track providing distinctive sonic DNA flowing between two elements.

At one extreme is the beautiful minimalist assembling of acoustic woodwind instruments and complex poly-rhythmic percussion into mathematical patterns, reminiscent at times of some of the quieter side of early Tortoise. At the other end of The Leaf Library’s drone spectrum the textures are more industrial, like a fleet of giant intergalactic hovercraft lawnmowers arriving on Earth from another planet, providing an unexpected Stars of The Lid level sonic experience of layered and soothing metal machine music.

“Hissing Waves”, with it’s twin-voiced lyrical meditation on “an endless looping cycle” of space and time, sits somewhere in the middle between the organic pastoral mood at one extreme and the mechanical hum at the other.  It serves as a perfect introduction to this enigmatic and individual album.

“The World Is A Bell” is released on WIAIWYA on 25 October 2019.

Advertisements

Russian Baths

You don’t normally associate ‘shoegaze’ music with abrasive guitars. Loads of fuzz and distortion sure, but usually with the edges smoothed and angles blurred by layers of reverb and delay. Russian Baths create a thrillingly brutal variation on shoegaze, their submerged dream-state melodic vocals bound together with layered rasps of metallic guitars that have more in common with Husker Du and Sonic Youth than Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. As you can hear on “Tracks” it works a treat:

Russian Baths are from Brooklyn, NY and are Jess Rees (guitar, vocals) and Luke Koz (guitar, vocals), with Evan Gill Smith (Bass, Synth), and Jeff Widner (Drums, Synth). “Tracks” is from an album called “Deepfake” out next month on Goodeye Records.

The contrasts between extremes here on “Tracks” are compelling; noise with whispers, harshness with softness, turmoil with tranquility, menace with comfort, dystopia with utopia, darkness with light…

There was one ‘shoegaze’ adjacent band in the 1990s which managed this kind of contrast – Catherine Wheel – but Russian Baths add in additional elements of Gothic rock and Post-Punk along with those hardcore noise-rock guitars to create a distinct kind of musical soundscape.

 

Die Musikband

Music Has the Right To Children” proclaimed Scottish sound manipulators Boards of Canada in the title of their 1998 album of warped electronic music. Here then is an NZ-raised child of motorik German instrumental elektronische Kosmische musik” (usually referred to in Anglo-centric parts of the world as “Krautrock”, a derisive term coined by British music journalists for this counter-culture sound). Die Musikband is from Dunedin New Zealand and “Klar Linien” is their opening salvo ahead of their first EP.

“Klar Linien” translates as “Clear Lines”. There are clear lines between the motorik form of German elektronische Kosmiche Musik and some of Dunedin’s bands of the 1980s. Snapper were the most obvious inheritor of the robotic rhythm gene, but The Clean were an earlier example with “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”, further refining their organic Antipodean version of the motorik essence in the rhythmic fabric of their “Vehicle” album. Even shambolic cult band The Puddle managed to weave some of the more experimental elements of Kosmiche Musik into their ramshackle spiderweb of chemically-altered lo-fi psychedelia at times.

There’s also clear lines between the members of Die Musikband and Dunedin bands of the 1980s, and the 1990s, and the 2000s. As they explain: “The people in this band have all done other stuff. Now they’re doing this. As well. Jeff (Bored Games, The Rip, My Deviant Daughter, Valve, The Broken Heartbreakers), Karen (Onanon, Death By Silo), Alex (That High School Covers Band) and John (Salon Kingsadore, The Broken Heartbreakers).”

“Klar Linien” combines elements of the kind of melodic and sonic playfulness of Kraftwerk and Harmonia with a bit of Dunedin wild yeast. Along with Al Haig of Snapper, Harford is one of the great motorik drummers of Dunedin and one of the best foundation builders in the business. Together with Karen McLean, the drums and bass provide a reliable means of propulsion upon which guitarist John Howell and synth player Alex Gilks can paint in sound.  When they play live they are at their best when locked in a repetitive groove, layering sound upon sound.

 

 

House Deposit_Cruise ControlHouse Deposit are from Melbourne and their song “Cruise Control” comes a month ahead of an album called “Reward For Effort” which chronicles a turbulent year. Energy expended. Experience gained. Reward For Effort.”

They say “deeply inspired by The Chills, The Feelies and Melbourne dolewave…” but “Cruise Control” here seems less ‘dolewave’ and more like ‘droll-wave’ with its gloriously laconic sing-speak delivery, shared around the band members and somewhere betwixt the deadpan delivery of The Goon Sax and Courtney Barnett’s quotidian poetry.

Simple stuff doing the classic unfussy Australian strum&jangle guitar band thing very well indeed, and a very nice instrumental coda reminiscent of the Go-Betweens rhythm & lead guitar interplay at the end adding the perfect sprinkle of shredded dessicated coconut on their fluffy musical lamington bake.

“Cruise Control” is shared ahead of the band’s album release on 25 October on Spoilsport Records.

 

 

 

Francie Moon

“Dear Love” is the powerhouse second track from a new cassette album/ mini-album release from New Jersey psych-rock trio Francie Moon.

Francie Moon is a trio but also the alter-ego of guitarist and vocalist Melissa Lucciola, with Adam Pumilia on bass, and Richie Samartin on drums. This new album “All The Same” – which includes the three songs from their 7″ EP released earlier this year –  mixes elements of psych, garage, and surf rock in an energetic collection.

“Dear Love” featured here shows off Lucciola’s distinctive reverb & delay washed guitar playing and equally distinctive vocal delivery. Musically the song is part Hendrix (in his dreamiest Axis: Bold as Love phase), and part Swedish psych-rockers Dungen, embellished with subtle keyboard washes and a recorder solo in place of Dungen’s occasional flute flourishes.

 

DK H8s 2019David Kilgour returns with his band the Heavy Eights for a beautifully melancholic album “Bobbie’s A Girl” which has just been released on US label Merge Records.

“Looks Like I’m Running Out” ambles along blissfully, a bit like Syd Barrett’s “Gigolo Aunt” shuffle, but it’s a pace that out-sprints the languid drifting sleep-walking state of much of the rest of the album. I mean that in a good way too.

At times it feels like the album is a conversation between worlds, between the living and the dead. As DK explained in an interview: “The whole album is a sort of mood piece, really. Grief was behind it, as you say. I lost my mother and my friend Peter [former school friend and early Clean/ Chills/ Snapper band member Peter Gutteridge] around the same time, and for a while, I made no music at all, then I started to really just indulge myself and let the melancholia wash around me.”

The album is minimalist, in words and sounds and notes and chords, yet also one of the richest, deeply textured, atmospheric collections in the substantial David Kilgour catalogue. Acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboards, vibes, voices; all leavened by the air between the notes.

There’s a strange kind of magic at play here. It is partly the circumstances of the album’s origins, but also maybe also aided by the provenance of the location of its recording in the 140 year old Port Chalmers building Chick’s Hotel. Some of the songs seem improvised by the band in a telepathic dream-state. It’s so laid back at times it almost falls apart. But, like those two Syd Barrett solo albums, it somehow holds itself together, willed on by primal musical instinct shared among the players and shepherded by spirits in the aether of the eternal vibrations of the universe.

Summer Flake 2019Summer Flake have just released a third album – “Seasons Change” – on Australian label Rice Is Nice. Here’s the blazing 2nd track “In The Dark”:

Summer Flake is Steph Crase (also in Fair Maiden) and accomplices. Summer Flake’s music is an Australasian distillation of the kind of melodic guitar pop perfected in the mid 1980s by the likes of Let’s Active and The Windbreakers and further developed in the 90s by Scottish band Teenage Fanclub and the Juliana Hatfield Three.

The melodic music and vocal harmonies sugar-coat a darker kind of down-beat melancholy resignation about life’s curve-balls creating perfect bittersweet jangling & twanging post-grunge guitar pop.