Æ: Aglet Eaters

//orangenoise – A Journey To The Heart of Matter

Posted in Album, Review by R on September 20, 2012

I don’t see how it could make any sense to anyone else. Perhaps if you possess the selfishness of an only child you’ll understand. Maybe if you tend to adopt and nurture inanimate objects and abstract concepts, you’ll understand. Could be you’ll understand anyway.

I was there when //orangenoise formed. Well, that’s not the clearest statement. Technically, I was ‘there’ when Slowdive formed, but I can’t speak about them with the same intimacy as I’m about to. No, by ‘there’, I mean I watched //orangenoise come together. The very name was created in front of my eyes (on the 1st of June 2010, fyi) (I was a bit iffy about the ‘orange’ bit the way I’m iffy about all major decisions).

FUN FACT: //orangenoise was almost called //Feedback before suspicions led to double-checking and the unsurprising discovery that the latter was already taken.

I’d known Talha Wynne for all of three months then. We’d become friends thanks to a ‘gaze community we both milled about in. He was putting together a new band in the wake of the dissolution of the last. Two years on I’ve watched //orangenoise be created and named, I’ve listened to them record and put out an EP (Veracious), remixes, some stuff in between, as well as work on solo material (Toll Crane, Alien Panda Jury). And I’ve done it all while, for the most part, not even being on the same continent as the band.

This is the point where I have to ask you to go back to the first paragraph and try, really TRY, to understand, why //orangenoise are ‘mine’.

Now I’m back where I belong and they’re RIGHT HERE (border control begs to differ) and after all this, I want nothing more than to just be able to reach out and be where the analog sounds are.

But I can’t because visas and politics, so I’ll make do by just talking about it.

Veracious was a astounding album, no doubt. If you’re not from Pakistan or India, you have to bear in mind that access to some of the amenities that many take for granted isn’t quite as natural in these parts. The power doesn’t stay on, recording studios aren’t terribly common, equipment is expensive, audiences are nicher, and, most significantly, music production isn’t a common or an encouraged skill. Veracious stoutly defied whatever would have held it back. Until I heard A Journey To The Heart of Matter I thought Veracious had achieved the almost impossible. Hooks, clarity, diversity, and (shoegazey) tradition – it was all there.

But Journey is jaw-dropping. We’d had a teaser a few months back in the form of ‘Clipped’, and then, more recently, they dropped the opener ‘I Don’t Know‘. At the time we heard ‘Clipped’, we had no idea there was an album coming up, but it was obvious that Veracious was long gone. The ‘Clipped’ we heard was recorded live for LussunTV and even in that unforgiving setting it was proof positive that //ON had hit and crossed its adolescence with astonishing velocity. What paranormal hormones gave ‘Clipped’ its barely believable maturity so soon after we’d heard Veracious‘s to-be-expected innocence?

Wait till you hear the album version, though. Re-recorded and re-produced, it enhances nuances you didn’t realise existed as it spins, churns, and tumbles, with something hypnotic in its agility. It’s follow-up, ‘Chaser’ is similar and endowed with less of a hook, and more of a somersault – it twists and winds into itself, rolling itself out just before it gets caught up in tangles. Aforementioned opener ‘I Don’t Know’ is a the pinnacle of sophistication. You can tell there’s sophistication in a song when it remembers that there’s sound in silence.

I could go on, speaking about each song in turn. But given my obvious bias, perhaps it’s better if you do some of the work yourself.

Two Dancers – Wild Beasts

Posted in Rediscover, Track by R on September 8, 2012

What is this odd contraption that you are aiming at us?

I don’t speak the language of lyrics.

It’s one of the traits I am least proud of because a heady melody can lead me to ignore a compelling story.

But if there really is a craft to the words, a song will bring me back. Maybe not right that minute. Maybe not even that year. But one day I’ll hear it playing in the back of my mind, and I’ll turn it on to appease the earworm. And the hungry creature will ask for more. And I’ll keep feeding it until finally, a rusty little cog in my brain will shudder awake and the worm will vanish, knowing it’s done its job.

So here – two years after seeing Wild Beasts on stage and three following the release of Two Dancers –  I find the title track looping incessantly around my mind. I liked it, on first listen, but it hadn’t really got me by the throat. If anything, it was ‘The Song Before ‘Two Dancers II”

Funny that, because right now I can’t even bring to mind what the second one sounds like.

I’ve had it happen before. Innocuous songs come to me in shreds. ‘They dragged me by my ankles through the street’ hadn’t left me since the first listen. Neither had ‘They passed me round them like a piece of meat’. But now ‘I feel as if I’ve been where you have been’ was echoing off the walls of my skull, fading out and starting over, prancing around with unknown intent. What could it possibly want?

I turned it on.

‘His hairy hands/His falling fists
 His dancing cock/Down by his knees’

Why don’t I listen?

Now the ankles were more apparent. So far, they had been a pair of blurry wrists in my inattentive mind. So was the desolate acceptance of ‘I’ve seen my children turn away from me’ – if that voice had eyes, they would be lowered and unfocussed. And then there’s that lie of a line:

‘Oh do you want my bones between your teeth’

The fraud – it’s the one that led me astray in the first place. You can’t help registering it because of the silence that comes before – the act so concrete, but still so intangible . Distracting. It left me mulling over it while ‘they pulled me half alive out of the sea’ washed over me. I hear the words, but because their meaning is so disparate from what I interpreted the line before to mean, I opt to gloss over them.

Still – I can hear where the name comes from. No matter how you read it or hear it, the track dances. Maybe it’s the voices – don’t think I missed ‘two hearts’ swirling behind the second verse, Hayden. It rises, and floats, and flies. The voice is heavy, as is the lump pulled out of the sea, as is the heart within it. It’s devastating but still – it’s fluid and rhythmic and as it breathes, it takes you in.

It’s a shame – I can’t listen to anything else from the album anymore.

Interactions in Installments: Echodrone Part 3

Posted in Discover by R on September 4, 2012

There comes a point in every I-i-I where Æ, having established a rapport with the hapless interviewee, feels brave enough to move on to more personal subject. Such as… what is your cat’s name?

I didn’t ask that this time – I had another invasive question for Eugene, Brandon, Meredith and Mark. Apart from the standard query viz. – who are you?

You’ll be surprised.

Brandon: I’m a librarian at a California State University. I’m married with 4 cats (so, a pro-level cat lover). Besides music, my hobbies are MMOs and reading baseball and punk/postpunk music history books.

Meredith: I go to medical school so I’m in Oregon right now and spend all day at the hospital. I don’t know anyone in town so i’m just the new kid on the block–working hard during the day running around, trying to somewhat look like I know what I’m doing. There’s been some comedic mishaps; it’s a very humbling experience. I miss my chihuahua–I left her with my mom in California. I miss my band—they’re scattered everywhere. My life is good–but in constant flux.

Mark: I live and breathe music right now. I am working as a freelance audio engineer and also play in some other bands that allow me to keep my musical muscles in shape so when Echodrone gets together I’m not completely pathetic in terms of musicality. I have had to do corporate work and stuff in the past but currently I consider myself very lucky to be able to survive solely on music while living in sunny California which is not a bad life at all.

Eugene: I’m currently attending pharmacy school in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s my last year now, so I’ll be joining the working world soon enough. I recently got engaged to a wonderful girl I met in pharmacy school and we’re getting married in December! So, basically my life now consists of studying, songwriting, and wedding planning. I have two crazy cats that get in fights all the time and eat my scrambled eggs when I’m not looking. My family is spread all over the U.S. – my mom lives in California and my sister lives in Austin with her husband. Besides music, I enjoy traveling, reading, stock trading/economics (weird, eh?), video games, and movies. My favorite directors are Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, and Lynch.

Æ[No I-i-I is complete without a single innocuous question that we can get all judgmental over. Favourite alcoholic beverage.]

Brandon: A toss between a cuba libre and a vodka and sugar-free red bull 🙂

Meredith: Craft beers for just hanging out. Whiskey on the rocks or a 7&7 if I’m out seeing a band play.

Mark: Love Beer! Especially the good stuff! Oh and I love the whiskey too…Bullet and Four Rose’s Single Barrel…Hooooooooooo!

Eugene: I’m always down for a good bourbon neat. Someone recently introduced me to Old Weller Antique, and I’m a huge fan now! Oh, and I remember having lots of vodka/red bull with Brandon during the early days of Echodrone.

Æ[No G & T?]

You can give Bon Voyage a listen, and buy it if you dig it. Below you’ll find a classic Echodrone track – because you know I’m perpetually stuck in the past.

Interactions in Installments: Echodrone Part 2

Posted in Discover by R on September 2, 2012

Something I said led Eugene to give me the story behind ‘Cold Snap’. Like almost every person on the planet, I love stories. Like  a spoiled child, I asked for more. Eugene passed the mic to Meredith.

Meredith:

[on writing lyrics for ‘Under an Impressive Sky’, ‘Hypnogogic’, and ‘Infinite Arms’]

I was kind of inspired by the movie Super 8 for ‘Under an Impressive Sky’. Sometimes not even particularly good movies make a big impact on me. ‘Infinite Arms’ maybe about the memory of people who have died. I think the track that made me the most excited from ideas sent around by Eugene was ‘Hypnogogic’. I was just completely mesmerized and in love with the sound of it the first time i heard it. That song just made me feel a flood of emotions so that one I just sang exactly what I was feeling: “its been a long day, and I’m back from the grave. I never thought I’d be this whole again. It’s been a long year, and strange without you here. I never thought I’d see your face again. Now I’m whole.”

Æ[demands more stories] [fears coming across petulant] [politely asks about changes in band dynamic]

Meredith:

I would say band logistics have mostly changed the sound. Life is always changing but the music has been always pretty constant for me. Whether things were good or bad, I think the output has been pretty similar.
Brandon:

Relationship changes have been huge, both negative and positive. More huge, to me, is how we have been able to keep our bond so strong with one another. Eugene and I were talking about whether we had any stories to share from writing/recording the last album. While I don’t have any that are funny or whatever, the overwhelming feeling I have in memory is how incredible it felt to be able to walk into a room with you guys and immediately rekindle the energy and connection we had before folks went off to grad school – it was really comfortable and so easy to lay down music we had frankly barely rehearsed. I know we had some trepidation about how recording would go so it was funny that we finished tracking etc. so ahead of schedule.

Brandon:

So I think my story is that we’ve been able to keep our connection going strong against so many reasons against it – relationships transitioning, major life changes, distance, time etc.

Æ – [compelled to ask about past work – part of the No Release Left Behind act. You’ll find the best stories here]

Brandon:

What I remember from the Echodrone EP recording was the sound engineer’s pot use and diminishing mixing abilities as he smoked more pot over the course of the day. But he was a great guy to pop our recording cherry with.

Eugene:

The engineer for our first album really was a great guy and had some very interesting sound engineering techniques. That was one of my first recording experiences ever, and he did an excellent job making it feel like we were just hanging out at our practice space. That being said, there really was a lot of discussion about dinosaurs and Nacho Libre quotes once the pot use increased over time. Oh, that vaporizer!

Brandon:

As for The Sun Rose In A Different Place, because things were so crazy with ES and MG’s personal lives I don’t have any real stories from that. I just remember how quickly we worked and how decent the stuff sounded at the time when played back and the excitement around the general process.

Mark: The album (The Sun Rose in a Different Place) actually took a lot longer to make since we recorded it in chunks over the course of several months. We got the basic rhythm tracks banged out for half of the tunes at a local studio and then did most of the guitar overdubs and vocals at our rehearsal space in Oakland at the time where Eugene and I spent weeks being mad scientists, along with doing Meredith’s lovely vocals and then had it mixed which took a few more months so it started to feel like we were never going to finish, but we eventually did and we were all very happy with the results!

Eugene: We also approached the songwriting for The Sun Rose in a Different Place from an entirely different angle than Bon Voyage. At the time, Meredith and I were both getting ready to go to grad school. We weren’t sure if The Sun Rose would be our last album ever as Echodrone [gleep! – Æ]. As a result, we wanted to cover all the different aspects of Echodrone in one album and make it our definitive statement to the world. So I was challenging myself with each song to try something different. ‘Seeing The Forest for the Trees’, for example, started off being heavily influenced by The Sea and Cake. I listened to a lot of SlowdivePygmalion [!!xoxo!! – Æ] when I was writing ‘Sympathetic Vibrations’. We approached ‘Sway and Drown’ as our “classic” shoegaze tune. ‘Pack of Wolves’ was our indie pop number. etc. etc. Thus, we had a certain theme/end-goal for how each song would sound on The Sun Rose. This was a totally different songwriting process than Bon Voyage. For Bon Voyage, we really didn’t put much thought into having pop songs, ambient songs, loud songs, etc. We just wrote what we thought sounded good.

Æ – [gathers up the nerve to get a bit more nosy.]

Interactions In Installments: Echodrone Part 1

Posted in Discover by R on September 1, 2012

Echodrone – a band. Echodrone – an album. Shoegaze – not known for its vivid imagination. Shoegaze – the scene that (sometimes, inadvertently) celebrates itself.

Meet Eugene and the introduced-in-installments rest of Echodrone. I’m going to start this series by asking for a response to the following implied accusation:

BAND NAME :: WHERE IT IS FROM (maybe)

Slowdive :: Siouxsie and the Banshees song

MBV :: 1981 slasher film

Sennen :: Ride song

pinkshinyultrablast :: Astrobrite EP

Highspire :: Hometown

Echodrone :: Skywave album

Brandon:

Well, our name came from the band members at the time – Eugene, me and “the other Mark” – putting together words that we thought were indicative of our sound together to form a name. We loved delay and droney music and Echodrone sounded the best when put together. We knew about Skywave but not about that album – we only found out that the names were the same when one of the band members contacted me on Myspace to mention it!

Eugene:

Yeah, I really wish there was a deeper story to how we came up with our name! I’ve gotta say though, it was pretty cool to be contacted by one of the Skywave guys. Anyways, as far as shoegaze bands sharing names with various songs/movies/albums…I think, overall, the shoegaze/dreampop community is very respectful and we’re all more than willing to pay homage to influential artists of the past and present! Sennen is a perfect example of this respectful mentality.

Æ: [brief, but necessary rave over ‘Cold Snap’]

Eugene:

‘Cold Snap’ actually holds a special place in my heart. When I moved to Baltimore, I got caught in one of the worst snowstorms in Baltimore history (Winter of 2010). It was an absolute nightmare! The entire city shut down because all the roads were covered in three feet of snow. Because the city had shut down, I was basically stuck in my apartment for over a week with very little human contact. I was fine with this situation at first. I watched movies, read books, listened to music – basically indulged myself in all the activities I didn’t have time for when the city was “active”. But, after about the fourth day of being stranded from all my friends and family, I became a pretty huge sad sack. I started to lose interest in everything. My loneliness became palpable. I even celebrated my birthday alone that year because no one could make it into the city. Anyways, rather than just sit and around and mope, I thought the best way to deal with these emotions would be to capture them in a song. So, fueled by feelings of loneliness and isolation, I powered up my laptop and recorded the basic sketches of  ‘Cold Snap’.

Æ – [unnecessarily detailed commentary on how ‘Cold Snap’ sounds a bit like a story of lost love and/or love lost] +  [wise observation that Droneecho is a much cooler name and why couldn’t one of  the bands have picked that]

Eugene:

I think a lot of people heard the “lost love” story in the Cold Snap lyrics. There are definitely elements of that type of story in the lyrics, for sure! But yeah, it’s more of a story about the loss of all important human relationships in one’s life. That was one of the major ideas behind the ‘Cold Snap’ video.

Dronecho is a fantastic name! Maybe the perfect name for an Echodrone side project 😉

Æ –  [filled with (possibly false) hope]

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