Æ: Aglet Eaters

St. Marie Records Rampage: Elika

Posted in Feature by R on May 25, 2012

Elika are so quiet.

Outside of music that is.

I barely hear a peep from them.

Yet somehow they’ve turned out half a dozen records at the regular rate of one a year.

Yet somehow, even in shoegaze circles, they skulk quietly in corners. Not ignored as much as aloof. Appreciated by the similarly silent and elusive.

Even the music isn’t particularly obtrusive. It just sort of clears its throat and starts to speak. It’s got a voice like ‘Ray of Light’ era Madonna’s – a fact that most publicity for the band tries to avoid. Even their set-up isn’t particularly protuberant. What’s there? A laptop? a keybpard? Maybe a guitar? Two people? There aren’t any drums that’s already reduced the physical space they’d take up as a musical entity by 75%.

If only there was some way to be whispering this post. Whatever I say about Elika feels like interference in a private project. I fear they might come across this post and narrow their eyes at the interruption (soz!). I’m going to wrap up and slink out, but I think you need to hear the zen for yourself. Listen to Always The Light. It came out in March this year. It’s determined, but not bullheaded. Concentrated, but not heavy. Come to think of it, the lightness and simplicity of it all makes me wonder if, rather than being cross at me for so impertinently judging them, Elika would just ignore me altogether.

St. Marie Records Rampage: bloody knives

Posted in Feature by R on May 23, 2012

Oh, St. Marie Records, your timing is impeccable. For those of you who were following XD Records while they were around, you probably know bloody knives from their time on the label. XD Records were as discerning as St. Marie Records are, so it’s no surprise that when the former folded, the latter came along and whipped up bloody knives before they could even hit the floor.

I know this sort of thing goes without saying, but bear with me. I am totes a bloody knifer. They make My Kind Of Music (M-KOM) – or one of My Kind of Musics. I don’t have many M-KOMs, but I love each one passionately enough to be convinced that there is no other M-KOM. Until one of the other M-KOMs shows up and again I pledge my undying allegiance etc. etc. But in all fairness there are only, like, three (3) that I cycle through.

If I’m not terribly wrong, their full-length blood is their first release on SMR. It’s not unlike their previous releases at all which is great because if it was it wouldn’t be M-KOM anymore. They call this kind of sound ‘industrial’ and they also call it ‘pop’ in the same breath. In addition, you’ll find tracks dappled with 8-bitty beepyboopies. Me, I love it because it’s NOISE! I love the lazy CBF vocals, I love how the synth tramples all over them – easily, because they’re obviously not going to put up a fight, and I love the how the percussion acts as the gruff sidekick to the hulking bully synths, poking its out from behind them just to make its presence felt. Far be it for me to support aggressive schoolyard behaviour but you know what they say about your first taste of blood (bad puns R us).

blood comes out today and you can pick it up from the SMR store. If you’d like to taste it before you buy it, you can do that over on SMR’s bandcamp. Also, do appreciate how consistently I maintain the desired lowercase letters across band name, album titles, and tracks. Makes it a bit difficult to pick out the proper nouns in a pile of text such as this, but maybe it’ll teach you to read more carefully.

Clench your jaw, grind your teeth, narrow your eyes and turn on bloody knives. This is what’s known as a best practice.

St. Marie Records Rampage: Panda Riot

Posted in Feature by R on May 16, 2012

St. Marie Records have been lapping at the Fountain of Eternal Shoegaze for some time now and in the process managed to pick up some of the most – at the risk of sounding Hipster Runoff-y – relevant – bands around. One of those bands is Panda Riot.

It’s presumptuous of me, but since I’ve admired Panda Riot from afar, I was apologetically surprised to learn that they had signed on to SMR. I wanted to know how this had happened, so I did what any Normal Person would do when they want something – I asked. I got a response immediately and it turns out Wyatt, too, is a Normal Person. He wanted to sign Panda Riot on to his label, so he asked them.

You know – this is a life lesson I wish they’d taught me when I was still in school.

I believe the Serious Radical Girls EP is their first release on SMR. I’m having a ball listening to it. There’s only that much to say about it since it’s two and a half songs, so I have to play it on repeat but it’s a small price to pay.

I like how Panda Riot appeal to a conventionalist like me. I like how refreshing their sound is. Not refreshing like ‘oh here are some people doing this new unique thing no one has ever done before!’ I mean refreshing as in invigorating. At the same time the EP is also impossibly calming. Not Slowdive/Fauns/Tears Run Rings style calming – the noise-fragility balance is tilted too much in favour of noise to qualify. Calming, as in you don’t need to concentrate to listen to it. The complexities in the compositions are all intricacies you cannot and are not expected to pay attention to. I hear a bit of Ringo Deathstarr in the title track – contrary to popular belief this does not necessarily imply I hear My Bloody Valentine. In any case, the Imagine Hearts Ringo Deathstarr is nothing like the Sparkler Ringo Deathstarr and it’s the Imagine Hearts RD I hear. It’s the same delicate-but-firm female vox set against a backdrop of noise, but here the noise is less scrapey.

I wonder how many people reading this would imagine  ‘scrapey’ are negative adjectives to use when talking about curtains of sound in shoegaze…

It’s a funny, mathematical kind of EP. The title track you have to bounce about to a bit – it’s undeniably a mover. The next – and if you don’t have the SPC ECO bonus mix, last – track is inexplicably called ‘Golden Age Precursor’. I am all like ‘wtf is this precursing if it’s the last track, this band doesn’t make any sense…’ and then I find myself flat on my back on the Persian carpet and I’m wondering how I got there and why are all these stars around me.

The SPC ECO mix of ‘Serious Radical Girls’ is the sum of the first two. Do you want to dance to it? You can! Do you want to lie on your back and look at the stars in the sky or in your head? You can! Choices, choices, everywhere, and the entire EP only has three tracks on it!

The more I listen to Serious Radical Girls the more I feel like I must tell you to AT LEAST listen to it. I understand why, in these difficult economic times, you might be reluctant to buy it (but look! vinyl!), so if, based on what I say, you decide to give it 15 minutes of your time, I can say I have succeeded, and so have they.

Incoming: St. Marie Records Rampage

Posted in Discover by R on May 10, 2012

It would usually be called ‘St. Marie Records Week’ but we all know I can’t commit to a post a day. I CAN do a post every couple of days however, which is why a rampage is a FANTASTIC idea – and so much better a word than ‘week’ <bleah>.

St. Marie Records have been around for what seems like eons, but in the last 6 months or so they’ve gone snap-snap-snappity-snap and picked up some of the best (no exaggeration) new shoegaze acts on the scene. I’m going to be taking (us on) a walk through albums by Panda Riot, Drowner, Elika, Bloody Knives, The Spiracles and The Patience, and if I can manage it, get some input from the bands themselves. That’d be good yeah? Yeah!

Stand by…

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