Tag Archives: Drone

E GONE – Advice To Hill Walkers (2015)

Daniel Westerlund is E GONE: explorer and shaman of the cosmic arts. As E GONE he released All The Suns Of The Earth, which in the opinion of colourhorizon was probably the album of 2014.

Before that, as The Goner he released a slew of top drawer albums such as Behold The New Traveller which gained the admiration of the Archdrude himself, Julian Cope.

E GONE’s music straddles post rock, drone, world music, ambient and primitive heathen folk. A spirit of adventure runs through his music as does a core of good old-fashioned song writing.

Now, hot on the heels of the SMOKEDIVER EP, here is the brand new album, Advice To Hill Walkers.

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Get your pith hat on, get your sabre ready, put the kettle on, E GONE’s taking us on a trip…

‘Mark The Spot Where You Leave The Injured’. Under a death knell drone jinks a playful melody. Imps and goblins come out to play as the song lurches into a lob-sided gait.

‘Your Goal Is To Know Everything And Say Nothing’ starts the album properly with evil thoughts; harsh, twanging riff and back-of-the-woods banjo that brim with paranoia.

‘Follow Moonmilk Rivers’ stirs more rhythm in, learning from the Eastern sounds of SMOKEDIVER. Casbah boogie time. A heavy staccato bass stokes a heady psych groove. A myriad of sounds dart across your perception as your brain locks down. Free range trippiness.

‘Build Your Camp Out Of Alpine Moss’ is deep forest dwelling. Stark guitar stab, synth squeals, aggravatingly slow drones hum and the occasional glimmer of life form the drums. This is one of the many moments on the album which brings to mind a version ‘Poptones’ by Public Image which has been warped into soundtrack music.

‘Dwell In Tents By Day, Hike At Random By Night’ seems to be at the wrong speed, compounded with an eye-pokingly obvious tinny drum machine beat. Slight dub overtures lend to the oddity. The weirdness makes this track a highlight of the album.

‘Find New Methods For Compass Use’ returns to the ambient days of the Bitemarks EP. (Ludicrously you can get Bitemarks for free right here).

‘Bring Ice And Rope’ continues the hard fought uphill battle with sluggish bass painting a painful forced march. Images of William Friedkin’s film Sorcerer are evoked: death and mud intertwined.

‘Record The Humming Of Melodious Caves’ brings back the tribal beats. Curiously danceable (if you dig ketamine) and lashings of fidgety Eastern strings.

‘Continue Ascent While Blindfolded’ provides what appears to be a medieval re-imagining of the theme tune to 60s ghost / detective show Randall & Hopkirk.

Closing the album is the only epic to be found here, ‘Reach the Summit, Egg!’ Delving deep into drones and meditative states of mind this song uses everything that has come before and uses all the lessons learnt to provide an intense final push. As we are reaching the peak of the album it is only natural that sound breaks down, leaving us oxygen starved and muscle depleted. Yet we are enriched by the path we have taken and the sights we have seen.

There has been a clear trade-off from All The Suns Of The Earth. The wild mood swings have been smoothed out. While that album veered from the giddy ‘Hexx’ to the strident folk of ‘Traveller You Will Sing’ to the subconscious brain invading and mournful lament of ‘Hazel Motes At The Plastic Vortex’. There the genre hopping was more delineated. Here however, the lines are increasingly blurred. This sacrifices some of the unpredictability that made All The Suns Of The Earth so thrilling but in turn provides a more subtle blend. All the elements at play have now become fully assimilated. I would sum up by pointing out that the album is more sophisticated but less accessible. All The Suns Of The Earth should definitely be your first buy before coming here.

The album is totally instrumental. A shame as Westerlund has a strong voice that punches many emotional buttons. Similarly it is a concern that the more traditional singer-songerwriter aspects of his work appear to be receding into the distance. Songs like ‘Heaven Send Your Love’ and ‘A Song’ are an important part of his appeal so it is hoped we can hear him singing again soon.

As mentioned earlier with the ‘Poptones’ reference, Advice To Hill Walkers has the demeanour of PiL’s Metal Box gazed at through a circus hall of mirrors. The album is evil and brooding and yet rippled with subtle flavours of psych like the darkest of dark chocolate. There are temptations to call this slow motion post punk, especially considering the ceremonial bass underpinning the entire affair. There are hints of the decaying entropy of songs such as ‘Broke My Neck’ by the Bunnymen and ‘Kilimanjaro’ by The Teardrop Explodes, maybe even the second half of Bowie’s Low. From contemporary music we could view this as being the dark reflection of The Woken Trees Nnon.

Advice To Hill Walkers… dancing in the halls in the dead.

LINKS:

Advice To Hill Walkers on Bandcamp

All The Suns Of The Earth or for swanky vinyl (2014)

Review

SMOKEDIVER (2015)

Review

Albums as The Goner: HH and Behold A New Traveller are available here

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The Lucid Dream – The Lucid Dream (2015)

Let’s make one thing clear: impartiality will be checked at the door for this interview, as unloved as that U2 album they tried to force into our dry, unyielding music collections. Biased? Hell yes I’m biased! This is a band I love and seen on many wonderful occasions live.

The Carlisle boys play a particularly noise heavy brand of shoegaze but their sound has evolved and is still evolving, to gain them a unique place in psych. Mark Emmerson on guitars and gadgets is an ice cool frontman. Mike Denton on bass is the Jah Wobble of the psych scene. Luke Anderson on drums is a human whirlwind. Rounding out this quartet is Wayne Jefferson on guitar, ‘the mysterious one’.

It took a long time in coming but their second album is finally amongst us… 

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Let’s inspect the four main peaks of this mountain range.

‘Mona Lisa’. This song has grown from a tentative puppy into a slathering hell-hound. Opening their live set for some time now, this is The Lucid Dream’s votive offering to German demigods Neu! As an opening song it delivers a power house alarm bell of what is to come, an air raid siren of intent. Comprising a rock hard, indestructible groove it gets people dancing and passes the ultimate test: you never want it to end. When this recorded version stirs into brutal life at around the 1 minute 50 mark the punishment starts. Tension is built, wires of containment are strengthened and the mind forg’d manacles of motorik locked. Luke provides a machine gun beat, as immovable as the heavens. When tension is sporadically released, waves of euphoria hit and oxygen is gulped into your breathless body.

Click to listen to ‘Mona Lisa’

Click to watch an early ‘Mona Lisa’ at the Castle 07/07/2013

‘Unchained Dub’ reigns at the centre of the album like a black hole, so dense and heavy it will suck the energy from the other albums in your music collection (bad luck for Lumerians). A raging shit storm is conjured up by Mark’s wizard weapon: the dub siren. Whirring, wailing, oscillating and spewing bad karma; it throws up energy, throws down for a fight and kicks out the mother fuckin’ jams. On top of which you have the baddest and most coolest of all instruments: the melodica. Dub siren and melodica? That’s some righteous shit.

Click to watch ‘Unchained Dub’ live at the 2014 Liverpool Psych Fest 26/08/2014.

Click to watch ‘Unchained Dub’ live at the Roadhouse 14/02/2015.

‘Morning Breeze’ for all intents is in fact ‘Sweet Hold On Me Part 2’. Continuing the epic tale from where Part 1 finished on their debut album, this is a further journey into that specific heart of darkness. Sheet ice walls of guitar cast shimmering skyscrapers of noise. One thought that sprang to mind is that here The Lucid Dream have outclassed their heroes, A Place To Bury Strangers. A bewildering, panic inducing miasma of a song.

Demonstrating an even further spreading of the wings is ‘You & I’ which amazingly, has the sharp, ice cream tang of doo-wop. All of a sudden Carlisle is left behind; the boys have travelled through a space-time portal and found themselves in a world of huge cars with tail fins, cheap sci-fi monsters and taking your girl for a milkshake. Hearing such a gorgeous 50s sound, fed through a shoegaze filter is the first revelation, the second is the discovery that the Lucid Dream can now nail the slowies too… All I know is I love it and I want more…

Production is immaculate, there is a lot going on here, yet all is pieced together beautifully. If I had one complaint it would be that Mike’s bass is a little low. The album sounds as airtight and imposing as Metal Box and as claustrophobic as Heaven Up Here.

An album to last for the ages…

Dead Sea Apes live at Soup Kitchen 02.06.2015

Dead Sea Apes are rising. Gaining a reputation as a hotly sought after support act and with a third album imminent, it’s fine time for the Apes.

Supporting Chilean motorik merchants Follakzoid at Soup Kitchen they put on a stringent, confident show. Their music veers from miasmic ambience, to metal with a groove,to dubby space rock. Never quite aligning their allegiance with any of these genres provides them with a fleet footed ability to keep people guessing.

Each member of the band gets space to shine. Brett Savage’s guitar is building structures-within-strucures, an oil dipped faberge egg, occasionally an effects laden soup, occasionally forming crystalline patterns. Nick Harris’ supple bass keeps the momentum and stops the music drifting into arty experimentalism. The fact you can nod your head to Dead Sea Apes goes a long way. Maybe the star of the show was Chis Hardman on drums: quite a simply he provided the power of a double drummer line up, a hypnotic sight of flailing metronomy.

I still think the best way to enjoy Dead Sea Apes is to marry their albums with a cup of tea, plate of biccies and a sci-fi book, but as a live show they’re only going upwards.

The Blackrays live at Fallow Cafe 29.05.2015

Blackrays must be one of two things. Are they the enveloping absence of light? Or the sleek, stinging creatures of the deep? The puzzle continues…

Playing only their third gig last night at the rather nice Fallow Cafe, The Blackrays put on a dazzling, intense show…

The closest comparison is with the brutal sawdust twang of The Janitors but extra trippy and with a dash of urban voodoo. There is plenty of noise but backed by a rock solid groove, ensuring that both your brain and your feet have plenty to do.

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Oliver Harrap (of Two Skies fame) provides drums tribal and crisp, occasionally drifting into the bone dry reverie of Steve Morris on ‘Atmosphere’. Elfin trickster David Mapson Jnr (of Dave Mapson fame) is on guitars: wailing like furious banshees in a Mid-West horror movie. Rounding out the quartet is J.P. Allison (of The Blackrays fame) on bass: tentacles of granite, scuttling fury and righteous post punk undertow…

The elusive, mysterious Rhys Bloodjoy (of Rhys Bloodjoy fame when his solo material is released) continues to weave his shamanic way through psych. Hooded and mainly incomprehensible, his aura of authority alone brings much to the band, let alone his twitching, cosmic delivery. Only a smattering of psych bands have a frontman: one man with a mic. Having Rhys saunter on stage through the first song bought a Mark E Smith control to proceedings. When he gets into full flow he brings an Ian Curtis sense of automatic speech, lost in the music and dragging the crowd with him.

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The highlight of the set was ‘Here They Come’ which sounded like Joy Division covering ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ but with swirling peppermint chemtrails and extra velociraptors. It’s also the forthcoming single so keep your eyes skinned for that one.

Catch psych’s newest supergroup…

In the meantime watch the video for ‘Endless’ 

Helicon – Take The Ride EP (2011)

Helicon: a ragged gang of guitar wielding scallywags who weave light from darkness and bring chaos to order. Discipline never sounded so undisciplined. Groove never felt so random.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of bands operating within this BJM / space-rock framework but Helicon are a band apart. The sheer size of their sound is overwhelming; noises produced then moulded; caressed then weaponised. Talking about individual elements of their songs and sound can be tricky as the sum is greater than the parts, when it all comes down, sense and reason are surrendered.

Helicon are a band with a large supply of EPs under their belts. Let’s head back to 2011 to take a look at one of the best: Take The Ride. cover take the ride ‘The Point Between Heaven And Hell’ is a ketamine tornado of whirling calamity, a long, bejewelled marathon of jangling guitars and hazy harmony. Starting with a dying helicopter, fading rotors glinting in the sun. Past 2 minutes the song shifts into angry life; methodical, stomping drums beat a bloodthirsty holler. Past 4 minutes a Jesus & Mary Chain meets Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ vibe comes down, along with shoegaze vocals. Female backing vocals add a dreamy gloss. Spun with style and precise pacing this is an exquisite way to start the record.

Watch a rehearsal ‘The Point Between Heaven And Hell’

‘Truth Or Consequences’ takes us deeper, with a heavy BJM groove. Over 7 minutes the waves of guitar build up enough pressure to make ears pop.

‘Hiding In The Shadows’ fuses what appears to be sitar and didgeridoo before kicking in with frisky drums and bold vocals. More fleet footed than the previous tracks but without trading in hypnotic patterns of mind control.

Superb stuff, and there’s plenty more where that came from…

The Inside Track with Chef Menteur Part 1: East Of The Sun & West Of The Moon

To cut a long story short, Chef Menteur are a band that denies genre boundaries. Their latest release, an epic 3 disc set comprises new album East Of The Sun & West Of The Moon along with its ‘brother’ North Of Tomorrow & South Of Yesterday and the remastered Force Majeure. Such a dense, sprawling journey through music (from ambient to funk to post rock)  would benefit from a map to aid the plucky traveller. So, track by track, Chef Menteur will take us by the hand and provide us with an exclusive guided tour…

East Of The Sun & West Of The Moon 

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These tracks were generally recorded in our studio with everyone switching instruments a lot, but more often than not Brian [Abbott] is on bass and Dan [Haugh] is on drums, and Alec [Vance] is on keyboards or guitar. Some songs are jams, but most were recorded one track at a time. Lots of overdubs and other instruments played, and sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly who played what or why.

1. Narconaut: The working title of this was “Interstellar Sandwich Artist”, and it has some backwards guitars and backwards haikus about pulp space heroes. This was also one of our best live tracks and we almost always played it first in the live set because the thunderous opening got everyone’s attention. The riff was something Alec got from a guy named Steve who was a roadie in Camper Van Beethoven. Our friend potpie played the second best sine wave solo in Rock History on this song.

Click to listen to ‘Narconaut’

2. Venus [Il obstrue ma vue de Venus] : Brian played the dirtiest part on this song on a cheap 335 copy that has since been disassembled for parts. This was probably the song we worked on the most because it had so many parts. The middle bridge, which sounds like a gypsy-folk string interlude, has our friend Court on mandolin but originally featured Brian doing a Van Halen type guitar solo. The ending part was difficult to nail because it has 2 alternating time signatures. 4/3/4 then 4/4/3 over the drums doing straight 4/4 doing triplets. Brian plays guitar and Alec plays bass on this song. Working title was “Crapamunga.”

3. Terpsichore: A shorter version of what’s on North of Tomorrow & South of Yesterday (see part 2), to fit on the LP.

4. Lozenge Club: this is a loop from a jam we did in practice, and the longer, actual jam (“Lozenge Jazz Club”) is on North of Tomorrow & South of Yesterday. Trying to sequence a double LP, this was the last track of side A — we used bits of longer recordings as interludes.

5. The Forest: This is essentially an electronic improv track: Dan looped the Moog Voyager through multiple looping pedals, and Alec made an 808 style drum kit in Reason and improvised along. We later added some overdubs including a guest bass from our friend Aubrey (who is now playing in Chef Menteur), and Brian added some free jazz horns. The sample is from a Smoky the Bear ad, that we stretched out slightly more each repetition. Check out the video Dan made of this song, he did it with old school home made liquids and trays like they did at psych shows in the 1960s and 70s instead of using digital effects. Working title was “Beards of Canada.”

Click to listen to ‘The Forest’

6. Oxen of the Sun: Dan had played this riff, solo, at a local thing called Noizefest on an electric banjo, for about 30 minutes, and his knuckles bled for the last half of it because that’s the kind of hardcore banjo player he is. The rest of the band called it “Danjo Bloody Danjo” after that. He refused to clean the blood off his banjo head. It later became a CM song, with the addition of other instruments and a vacuum cleaner intro. And of course it was the perfect song to inject a 2-minute Farfisa solo that starts out super-quiet and builds, then goes into noise-guitar over baroque bass, then resolves into a post-rock ballad. The main riff and the feedback throughout is the electric banjo going stereo through 2 amps but most people assume it’s a guitar.

7. Ganymede: Every CM album before this one had a ultra-long space opera drone on it named after a moon of Jupiter and this continues the tradition. It takes a specific and patient mindset to make this kind of music. It’s great stuff to zone out, go to sleep, meditate, write or read to…. because you can disregard it as background music if you need to, as Brian Eno said about ambient music, or you can pay attention to it and hear subtle, interesting things unfold.

8. Long Stand (Part II): shortened to fit on the LP, the whole track is on North of Tomorrow & South of Yesterday (part 2).

9. O.T.O. [Ordo Templi Orientis] : intro is Dan playing banjo through a wacky EH pedal and Alec playing lap steel. When the main song starts you hear a homemade tamboura that Dan made. Dan wrote the main riff on bass, and Brian added a guitar part, and Alec did a sitar solo before the song builds into a whirlwind of the song. The working title was “Crain” because Dan liked the bass tone’s similarity to John Cook’s from the band of that name.

Click to listen to ‘Ordo Templi Orientis’

10….Plateau: Based on a fingerpicking rhythm on guitar Alec came up with, the name comes from the translated name of a Mongolian folk song, that just seemed to fit, although the song builds and builds slowly. Brian plays lap steel, bass and other guitars, Dan plays banjo and drums, as usual. Other instruments include hammered dulcimer, mellotron, and more guitars… we always played this live in combination with the next track…

11. Lion: An open-tuned acoustic guitar loop Alec made and pitched down, that turned into a massive space rock jam, with Dan’s one-key Moog solo, then a pretty cool dirty solo that Brian did on guitar, leading into a Jethro Tull code that leads into…

12. King Richard: a comically medieval but beautiful Richard Thompson style outro that Brian played on a very badly intoned kid’s toy guitar. The perfect way to end a double album.

In Part 2 Chef Menteur will take us through North Of Tomorrow & South Of Yesterday and Force Majeure too… click here 

III is available to buy here… http://sunriseoceanbender.bigcartel.com/product/chef-menteur-iii

Or visit Chef Menteur’s Bandcamp page

The Myrrors – Solar Collector (2013)

The Myrrors have a very suitable name. Imagine a vast circus hall of broken mirrors; gazing upon them will reveal  a world of fragments and a fleeting glimpse of an infinite realm. This band revels in a breaking the body’s natural union with the passing of time.

Back in 2013 the Arizona band dropped Solar Collector. Let’s take a backwards glance:

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In a sense they remind me of The Black Angels back on their debut Passover. Both start with the imagery of gunships cruising over Vietnam and the smell of diesel and burning trees. Machine guns blast on the edge of your perception. Whereas Alex Maas & his hipster brethren land and engage combat with a Doors sense of melody, The Myrrors continue the flight. A hazy, sun-baked horror ride. This is potent, heady material.

This harsh machinery of war still has a human face though and the Myrrors ripple with a fleshy, organic disorientation. Make no mistake, this is trippy. This combination of factors is what differentiates the band from the competition: too slow for space rock, too hippy for motorik. On this album the groove underpins the action and frequently sounds jazzy. The focus is on guitars: explorative, super-heated and noxious. If anything, this is prog mashed up with peyote.

Songs are not important here, the whole album is cast as a journey; just hit play and see where The Myrrors will go. Start and end become meaningless. Time and place become fluid. Your mind looses step with the world around you. The Myrrors: gazing in and gazing out.

Click to listen to ‘Escape Attempt’