Æ: Aglet Eaters

serve cold: bloody knives

Posted in Discover, Feature by R on April 10, 2016

bloody knives are a band after my own heart.

There’s never been a group more suited to soundtracking the cold-blooded crime I will one day commit.

Not since ‘To Fix The Gash In Your Head‘ has a group succeeded in capturing the serenity that accompanies a perfectly planned and executed retribution.

In fact, Preston Maddox‘s languid vocals only serve to enhance the careless loathing a typical bloody knives track spits out.

Similar to how Oliver Ackermann’s vocals on ‘To Fix the Gash…’ are less furious and more disconcertingly calm when he declares ‘I’ll just wait for you to turn around/and kick your head in‘.

And not unlike Archive‘s disaffected chant ‘there’s a place in hell with your name on the seat/with a spike through the chair just to make it complete‘.

So does Maddox ever so serenely dare you to ‘tell me I’m wrong‘ on Burn it all Down

Or politely inform you that there’s ‘blood in your mouth‘ on blood.

Or sweetly croon that he’s ‘waiting for you to die‘ on DEATH.

The fulfilment that comes with the manufacture and execution of pre-meditated violence is a recurrent theme throughout the bloody knives discography.

[Pre-order I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This]

bloody knives do not make music for the hot-headed – those who might not hesitate to throw themselves headfirst into a shouting match or a street fight.

They do make music for the sort of person who, on seeing you looking a bit high strung, offers you comfort and a coupon for a relaxing spa session and then bakes you alive in the sauna.

Because isn’t the glee on ‘Buried Alive’ not just the smug contentment that comes with suffocating someone to death while simultaneously disposing of their body?

You only attain this clean efficiency with time and reflection. Not through impulsive action.

There’s a lesson to be learned from all of this.

Guard your fury.
Plan its release.
Let its consequences stretch across weeks, months or years.
And let your parting note read:

This will be your last mistake

 

Buy albums.

Pre-order I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This.

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Ce fut quand même notre histoire: Une entrevue avec Milanku

Posted in Discover, Feature by R on November 12, 2015

milanku interview PNG

Milanku, groupe Québécois, marqué par un son qui juxtapose les mélodies les plus douces contre des voix enragées, viennent de sortir leur premier album après 4 ans. De Fragments, comme son prédécesseur, n’a rien à voir avec les débuts du groupe. Lorsque Demo et Convalescence étaient presque ‘punk’ ayant donné la brutalité de leurs sons, ici, maintenant, on voit – on écoute – les compositions beaucoup plus structurées. De Fragments possède la même complexité que Prise A La Gorge. Cependant, ce dernier est peut-être moins lourd.

Ce mélange n’est pas très diffèrent que ce d’Alcest – groupe français enraciné dans le black métal – ou on écoute clairement l’influence de leur ascendance même quand les chansons restent assez éthérée.

Bien que, au niveau de leurs esprits, les deux groupes sont presque pareils, musicalement, ils ne se ressemblent pas du tout. En fait, comme Alcest, je trouve qu’il n’y a aucun groupe comparable a Milanku.

Ça fait deux mois que je leur ai envoyé quelques questions à propos à leur histoire, leur son atypique, et leurs pensées au sujet des téléchargements gratuits. Voilà – tous que vous vouliez savoir de Milanku mais n’aviez jamais demandé.

 

1. Pouvez-vous me parler de l’histoire de la formation du groupe? Y avait-il quelque chose en particulier qui a réuni le groupe ? Et comment avez-vous trouvé votre son ?

L’année 2016 marquera les 10 années de Milanku. Ayant tous évolués au sein de différentes formations dans le passé, à cette époque, nous avons fondé le groupe avec le désir de sortir des sentiers battus en comparaison des groupes plus hardcore, voir punk, qui dominaient alors la scène. Nous voulions un son plus mélancolique et évocateur, mais tout en gardant un son lourd et pesant.

2. Votre son a beaucoup changé depuis vos débuts. Demo et Convalescence étaient plus bruts que Prise A La Gorge. Ce dernier est plus lourd, mais, quand même plus raffiné que ses prédécesseurs. Pouvez-vous me raconter l’histoire autour de cette transformation ?

Je dirais que simplement l’évolution normale du groupe. Nous n’avons pas produit beaucoup d’album depuis notre formation et avons toujours voulu garder l’indépendance dans notre son. Nous avons voulu prendre notre temps pour créer. Nous avons aussi beaucoup de matériel qui a été crée et qui n’a pas été sorti sur album. Peut-être qu’un jour nous produirons un album avec seulement des bootlegs ou des idées de local! En fait, nous avons toujours voulu garder le son de Milanku aussi près possible de la base de la musique rock, sans trop d’arrangements. Guitares, bass, voix et drums, what you see is what you get. Nous misons plus sur les mélodies et les harmonies entre les guitares que sur des arrangements liés au matériel ou aux équipements.

3. Personnellement, au niveau du son, je n’ai jamais rien entendu qui ressemble à Pris à la Gorge. Quels sont les groupes qui vous ont le plus influencés?

C’est difficile à dire…Je dirais que nos mélodies viennent comme idées au début et on garde ce qu’on aime, on fait des compromis, et s’ajuste en fonction du « vibe » général. L’ambiance et les textures sont ce qui nous importent. Il faut que les sentiments véhiculés nous rejoignent et je dirais qu’on n’a pas d’influence particulière….. Chacun dans le groupe écoute des trucs différents et je crois que c’est ce qui apporte le son et la particularité de Milanku.

Nous allons sortir notre nouvel album, De Fragments, l’automne prochain. Le lancement à Montréal est prévu pour novembre 2015. Le son de cet album est différent de ce qu’on a fait jusqu’à maintenant et on le voit un peu comme un renouveau.

4. Il y a une pause de 4 ans entre Convalescence et Prise A La Gorge – qu’est-ce qui s’est passé pendant ce temps ?

Des soirées au local à lancer des idées, à créer et essayer des choses. Il faut dire que Guillaume (drummer) est aussi parti à l’étranger pour un an. Nous avons alors jouer avec un autre drummer à cette époque. Nous avons fait plusieurs concerts.

5. Des nouvelles à propos de votre prochaine sortie… ?

Comme je l’ai mentionné précédemment, notre album, De Fragments, sortira en novembre 2015. Cet album est le fruit du groupe avec un nouveau guitariste. Les chansons sont plus courtes et je dirais plus dynamiques. L’ambiance et le « vibe » Milanku est toujours là, mais je crois que nous avons amener le groupe vers d’autres horizons.

L’album sortira sur plusieurs étiquettes, notamment Moments of Collapse (Germany), Tokyo Jupiter Records (Japan), Grain of Sand (Russia), L’Oeil du Tigre (Montréal, Canada), Replenish Records (US) et D7I (Quebec, Canada).

6. Votre avis au sujet de la musique en streaming et des sites où on peut télécharger les albums, les discographies, etc. sans payer ? Selon vous, est-ce que ces sites aident ou sont néfastes aux groupes – surtout les groupes indépendants ? De même, que pensez-vous des sites Bandcamp et Soundcloud?

De façon générale, comme Milanku est un projet lié à une passion, celle de la musique, nous considérons que le plus de gens qui écoute et apprécie notre musique vaut beaucoup plus que quelques dollars que pourraient générer la totalité des albums ou chansons achetées. Ce qui est plus importants, ce que les gens viennent aux concerts et achètent nos t-shirts, nos albums, etc. C’est ce qui est le mieux pour nous.

De même, je crois que si les gens veulent aider les groupes indépendants, il est aussi pertinent de « donner ce que vous voulez » lors du download des albums ou des pièces en-ligne.

7. Quelle est l’ambiance idéale dans laquelle vous souhaitez que les gens écoutent Milanku ?

Dans toutes les ambiances! Chaque moment est englobé dans une ambiance et si les gens sont heureux et léger et écoute Milanku, c’est ce qu’on veut. À l’inverse, si quelqu’un marche seul le soir et est dans ses idées, et écoute Milanku, c’est aussi ce qu’on veut.

8. Un groupe que chacun des membres de Milanku écoute et que les gens seront étonnés de savoir que vous aimez ?

Haha, bonne question. De mon côté, j’aime beaucoup la musique électronique et tout ce qui s’y rapporte. Je pourrais te citer plusieurs artistes, mais j’aime beaucoup Kiasmos et Olafur Arnarlds (Iceland), mais aussi des trucs avec plus de bpm, ça dépend des jours! Mon groupe favori depuis maintenant près de 20 ans est Leatherface…J’aime aussi beaucoup tout ce qui est plus « crasse » comme des bands punks comme Nausea et des projets vraiment lourds comme Amenra et tout ce qui s’y rattache.

Frank (guitariste) écoute beaucoup Esa-Pekka Salonnen, plus précisément sont concerto “Out of Nowhere – Violin Concerto. Mais il a une grosse fascination pour l’époque où Brian Wilson a perdu la tête avec les Beach Boys (Pet Sounds, Smile & Smiley Smile). Godspeed You! Black Emperor et leurs projets parallèles, autant que l’époque psychédélique des ’60.

Guillaume (drummer) aime autant Future Islands que Cursed en ce moment il écoute beaucoup de Beatles et de Loud Lary Ajust

Guillaume (chanteur) est plus dans la musique lourde, comme Amenra, Sumac, Old Man Gloom, etc.

 

Milanku vient de sortir son nouvel album, De Fragments. Vous pouvez l’acheter sur Bandcamp  ou iTunes.

Si vous voulez l’écouter avant de l’acheter, je vous présente: ‘L’ineptie de nos soucis’:

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“Don’t meet your heroes”: AE meets Blueneck (Part 1)

Posted in Discover, Feature by R on August 29, 2015

blueneck cover

“Don’t meet your heroes,” he tells me, taking a sip of wine.

I’m talking to Rich Sadler from Blueneck. We’re sitting across from each other 10,000 kilometres apart. He’s recounting a Radiohead-related tale of woe that befell his friend, and I’m pretending to be surprised to learn that Thom Yorke is a twat.

I joke – there’s never any need to convince me that Radiohead are a bunch of wankers. However, in keeping me from a life of shattered dreams and cynicism, Rich’s wisdomous advice appears to overlook one tiny detail:

I’m talking to Rich Sadler from Blueneck.

I refrain from telling him the damage is probably already done.

—-

Blueneck are not a group that frequents shoegaze circles. They aren’t even a name that pops up too frequently within the community. It could be because up until recently they hadn’t even the foggiest notion what to qualify their sound as. They’ve had the label ‘post-rock’ thrust upon them by over-enthusiastic third parties (independent publications not unlike this one, e.g.) but Blueneck never set out with any such intentions. No one in the group had even heard the term before having it stamped all over them.

Rich is one of the lucky few to have had the chance to be a fan of the band before being in the band. He recalls seeing them live before they’d released their first album, Scars of the Midwest, and wondering:

‘Why are they not huge?’

Then, when they toured for The Fallen Host, he toured with them.

‘Why are they not huge?’ – a standard reaction when you first hear Blueneck. I recall my own First Time; playing The Fallen Host while at work. Even under stark white light in the middle of the morning, ‘Low’ managed to stop my world. For a little over 9 minutes, it was just the two of us, spinning in infinity.

The live experience is a grandiosity that we scattered fans can only imagine.

 
How do they do it?

I can’t bring myself to ask the question, even though I’m longing to know the answer. Innate curiosity fights the urge to preserve the magic of the Blueneck sound by leaving technicalities shrouded in mystery.

Curiosity wins.

‘How do you do it?’

They live miles apart, the Bluenecks. They have lives and jobs. I can’t imagine how they find the time to be in the same room for more than a couple of hours every month. With both space and time against them, how is it even feasible for them to create anything at all?

Enter, the internet.

Spending hours in a studio writing, testing and recording tracks is a luxury most groups just cannot afford – least of all when they have to balance distance, families, work, and the basics of adult existence. Blueneck aren’t any different and Rich, being the furthest away from the others, makes a two and a half hour trek down to Bristol when the tracks are finally ready and it’s time to lay them down.

They’re not the first band to embrace the dropbox method of recording. Tears Run Rings rely on a similar technique, recording albums while divided by cities. Meanwhile, The Microdance make sure lyrics and composition are perfectly in place before they hit their Brick Lane studio (or Los Angeles) to churn out an album. Epilogue, Rich reveals, was recorded almost entirely remotely, and Rich and Duncan still have an album’s worth of songs waiting to be tracked.

‘They’re not Blueneck songs, though,’ he forewarns, pre-empting my apopleptic fit. The internet can only overcome the tyranny of distance by that much and Rich and Duncan’s project is both a resolution and an experiment. He seems intent on assuring me that Menace At The Dam has close to nothing to do with Blueneck, and I can’t tell whether to be excited or apprehensive about a potential departure from the established, accepted, worshipped norm.


 
Despite their elusiveness, Blueneck are far from unknown, scads of fans hang on to their every note, buy their albums, go to their gigs, and pick up their merch. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to be signed on by Denovali, but it does lead you to the obvious question:

File-sharing: good or bad?

It’s not a cut and dry question and Rich takes a while to respond. Understandably, he can’t take a definitive stance.

‘I’m torn,’ he tells me. ‘There wouldn’t be a Blueneck without file-sharing.’

I’m clearly not the only one who found out about Blueneck through word of virtual mouth before buying their album. Downloads, streams – whether legit or no – do little to further the economic ambitions of a band. But they’re what drive an audience to attend a gig, to buy a t-shirt, to invest in the vinyl.

‘We never expect to earn anything from album sales,’ he says. It makes me think of a ‘legal’ service like Spotify which may pay a cent for a thousand plays. Rich knows better than to expect to turn a profit from online services alone – I think they’d be lucky if they even managed to break even – but find me a 21st century band that does.

It’s a blessing, not a curse. Without the extrinsic motivation, or even the expectation, of making money off a recording, a band is free to focus on creating what they want to create, a listener less likely to be turned off by the ‘polish’ that coats anything released to achieve a commercial or economic result.

Rich concurs, even though I never say this out loud.

“We wouldn’t care if no one bought King Nine. It’s the album we wanted to make.”

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Heads Up: The Microdance – We Meet In Dreams

Posted in Discover, Track by R on April 14, 2015

Not long till The Microdance‘s first full-length New Waves of Hope is out. I already know it’s excellent but you don’t so just take my totes unbiased word for it.

Out of the dozen or so tracks on the album, this one’s my favourite. That’s why they’ve decided to release it as a single.* It’s out tomorrow on Boxing Clever Records.

[*No, that’s not why]

 

Damn. It only took me a month to get that hook out of my head and now it’s wedged solidly in there again.

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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The greatest MBV cover in all the world

Posted in Discover, Track by R on April 7, 2015

Arctique Circles

Who are they?

Where did they come from?

How did they do it?

An MBV cover to rival MBV?

It cannot be!

But it is:

 

Sway – Whirr

Posted in Album, Discover, Review by R on October 4, 2014

whirr

 

Les critiques de Sway le déclarent une abomination. Pitchfork l’a qualifié d’album « paralysé » dans sa critique incompréhensible et lui a donné 6,9 sur 10 (bien sûr, Pitchfork est lui-même un site web abominable – mais quand même…). Un autre site lui a donné 4 sur 10, disant, je cite, que « Les voix ressemblent plutôt à une murmure et on n’arrive pas à les comprendre. Sans ces voix, cet album transmettrait le même message. »

Evidemment, M. Smith n’a jamais écouté une note de shoegaze.

Moi, je n’ai eu besoin que de 30 secondes de ‘Press’ pour arriver à cette conclusion: nous n’avons pas eu – depuis Guilty of Everything par Nothing – une sortie si belle, si émouvante et si authentique. Comme son prédécesseur, Around, Sway reste fidèle à ses racines – un hommage respectueux aux origines du shoegaze. En même temps – comme dans toutes leurs créations – Whirr apporte son sens de l’actualité – le groupe ne vit pas dans le passé, mais l’amène avec lui, en l’intégrant dans une esthétique contemporaine.

Fidélité – Whirr est une manifestation du genre – de la ‘discorde’. C’est ça l’essence du shoegaze. Je suis sûre que les membres du groupe ne seraient pas d’accord avec moi, mais selon moi la contradiction est le cœur de ce type de musique. Les voix éthérées flottent au-dessus d’un bruit intolérable. Un groupe abrasif crée des chansons d’anges. Les journalistes/bloggeurs – ils n’arrivent pas à réconcilier les deux idées. Nous préférons une vie simple – composée de noir et de blanc. Le genre nous oblige à faire face à la réalité incongrue. Whirr – ils font la même chose.

C’est subjectif, la perception de la musique. Je l’accepte. Sauf que – non, il n’y a aucune doute que Whirr a sorti un album magnifique. Ce qui est ‘subjectif’ est l’interprétation de leurs bouffonneries sur Facebook. Le groupe – M. Basset, en particulier – ne respecte pas le ‘tact,’ et moi, je suis avec lui. Ça lui est égal. Pour Whirr, les fans ne servent à rien, et moi je suis ravie de cette vision. Je ne peux pas exprimer suffisamment mon respect pour des artistes qui créent l’art pour l’art et pas pour les gens. Et Whirr – Ils sont têtus, ils sont orgueilleux, et ils sont arrogants. Mais ils sont honnêtes et rien n’est important pour eux sinon la musique.

C’est ça – l’authenticité.

Defying Wars and Gravity: Ummagma on the Road to Lees

Posted in Discover, Feature by R on April 16, 2014

I don’t know if you already know Shauna McLarnon at all. She’s the tireless singer/songwriter/PR person/mother who, together with husband/composer/co-frontperson Alexx Kretov make up Ukrainian stargazing duo Ummagma.

Not unlike Tears Run Rings, Shauna and I have been trying madly to get Ummagma on AE with a success rate hovering around zero. It could be due to sheer laziness, mutual distraction, my subliminal aversion to Pink Floyd, or, most likely, the simple absence of a musical moment to capitalise on.

Fear no more, dear readers, for that moment is now. AE, along with a couple dozen other blogs from around the world, has been selected to premiere Ummagma’s newest video – a trippy wander through time and down ‘The Road to Lees’

We feels speshul.

Far be it for us to simply thwack an embed code into a post and call it a completed entry – at AE, we’re all about analysis, critique, debate, and poking our nose into other people’s business. And how kind of Shauna to comply.

Coming up – “Why would you reference Pink Floyd, are you out to get me?”, “What’s a music video do, anyway?” and “So…. Ukraine, huh?”.

But first – ‘The Road to Lees’

—–

It sounds innocuous enough – ‘where’s your name from?’. But I’m asking YOU specifically, because “Ummagma” sounds a lot like the first Pink Floyd album I heard. Ummagumma, the album, caused a dull, persistent cranial throb the instant I turned it on and from that day forth PF and I have been unable to make nice. So my question to you is – WHY? Why are you Ummagma?

That’s a good question – I’m not sure I ever heard an explanation of why Cocteau Twins decided to call themselves that, or even Pink Floyd for that matter – that name must have sounded pretty faggy at that time (now you’ve got me wondering about that) but I do recall hearing the story about Duran Duran being named after a comics character. I must admit, our story is likely just as silly as that.

There is indeed a link between the name Ummagma and Pink Floyd’s fourth studio album – the short version is that, yes, Ummagma is a shortened and much easier-to-pronounce version of Ummagumma. Go figure.

The long version goes like this: Once upon a time when Alexx was a boy, his dad was big time into Pink Floyd, slyly managing to obtain such recordings when many could not. He shared that love with Alexx, who, you might notice, was inspired by Pink Floyd more than most – you can hear that their effect on a lot of our music today. Pink Floyd were among the first groups to treat songs as if they were soundscapes worth exploring and they took the listener on that journey with them. Now Alexx was using this nickname on various photography and sound forums (it seems a bunch of those old messages will be on the net forever now) and we both considered this name for our duo, along with “Antigravity”. Ummagma won out and thus were born the name of the band, the self-titled album and the accompanying “other” debut release issued on the same day.

What is the story behind ‘The Road to Lees’? How come you chose to make a video for it?

‘The Road to Lees’ was composed a few years ago, when Alexx wasn’t sleeping well. At about 5 a.m. one morning, he was out having a cup of coffee on the balcony of our apartment when birds started to sing. He grabbed a recording device to capture the sound and that is what you hear at the beginning of this track. The rest of the song was inspired by a vision of a journey from there to a fantastical timeless place called Lees and the brilliant experience en route.

We thought about the ‘timeless’ element of the song in its audio form and we wanted, in making the video, to somehow translate that into something related to time and its meaning. We didn’t see this so much about the future as about the past and present and the connection between the two. We wanted nostalgia and the intangibility of time and past events to be part of the concept for this new video.

Unfortunately however, apart from that which was familial or community-based, what we knew as the “good old days” were based on a faulty foundation, which we’re only figuring out now. Just the same, this is still a happy place for many. It is this happy place, these memories, that help us to overcome all the crap we’ve experienced on the way, letting us move forward.

 

Selfies Rule, OK?

Selfies Rule, OK?

 

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: How is the situation in Ukraine affecting your music making or musical direction? Or, more broadly, what do you find the effect of politics on art to be?

Well, speaking for myself, my psyche has taken a real beating during this time. It’s really hard to be in the kind of mindset I need to be in for creating – that applies to melodies and lyrics both. Writer’s block, you know? Alexx has been prolific in making music, as he always is, but it takes forever to complete & perfect a song when you are not motivated to hang out in the recording studio very often. Protests, unrest, mobilization, Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea, mercenary clandestine activity, tons of violence, information overload, and now conscription. None of this has been very positive for our mindset or anybody else’s here in Ukraine. I’m sure you can imagine.
We’ve had to apply ourselves to living this dream however we can – basically whenever inspiration finds its way in. And for me, there has been a lot of networking, research and organizational stuff happening in the background when songwriting escapes me, which basically has been for the past four months. Once in a while, we manage to pull a song off – either just involving Alexx or us both. In all of this, we’ve tried our best to muster up strength to create something beautiful despite all the ugliness surrounding us. Isn’t the light supposed to ultimately win out?

—–

Ukraine’s not the greatest place to be at the moment, so you can hardly fault Shauna and Alexx for their retreat into memories and nostalgia. You’ve already got my constant call to support music ringing in your ears. As it happens, a lot of Ummagma’s stuff you’ll find for free, but if you feel it’s worth it, buy it.

FREE download of “The Road to Lees” 
Bandcamp 
Soundcloud
LATEST SINGLE! 

In Reverie: A Week with the Microdance

Posted in Discover, Feature by R on November 5, 2013

TMD/MTD

‘I’m in the best fucking band in London.’


Alex Keevill and I have known each other as physical beings for all of five minutes. We’re at King’s Cross Station where I’ve just come in on a train from Brussels for the last leg of my holiday. When my original plans for accommodation fell through, Alex offered me a roof, bed and kettle for my week in London.
He’s not being ironic when he makes the announcement. Alex genuinely believes that the Microdance are the best fucking band in London. Me, I refuse to give him the satisfaction of acknowledging anyone in this strange new town knows the Microdance at all.

We’ve ditched my stuff at the flat and found ourselves in a bar in Dalston on my first afternoon in the city. The girl behind the counter appears to be mildly hysterical and I can’t understand why. She bursts into giggles every time she looks at Alex.
It all started when she asked him: ‘Aren’t you…?’
‘Aren’t I what…?’ he asked back.
I didn’t hear her speak after that. All I saw were smiles and uncontrollable giggling.
‘What’s all that about?’ I ask him.
‘She knows me from the Microdance.’
‘So?’
‘So I’m Alex Keevill of the fucking Microdance!’
‘…so?’
‘So I bet she’ll give me a blowjob.’
‘I’ll go wait by the door.’

—-

TMD’s fifth EP – Yo Yo @ 26 – released this May to a daft amount of online publicity. It could be something to do with In At The Eye Records (their label – always useful to have one of those), or it could be something to do with how music blogs the world over seem to have the mad hots for them; this one wants to be them.

‘Yo Yo @ 26’ – the A-side – is a brazenly good track that, for its obvious brilliance, I very, very reluctantly love. Less song and more sonic tasting platter, it positively bursts with (a selection of…) disarming hooks. Good luck choosing a favourite moment.

My heart, however, is set on the B-side – ‘Devour’ is the warmest, fuzziest, breathiest, and possibly darkest, track they have. All introspection, acceptance, angst, and a little bit of sadness – I probably find myself in it.

—-

errybody look down

‘What you hear of us online is not wholly representative of the power of this band. Of course there’s enough there to get a feel for us but the recordings are all compromised for a variety of reasons. But I think time is the biggest one. We’re recording seven minute songs with dual guitars (and the rest!), synths and vocal harmonies in six hours! I’m by no means a natural singer; kind of like Deftones’ Chino isn’t. The difference being that he gets a month to do his vocals, I get an hour! That is also indicative of how the industry is changing. We’ll get there though’

—-

A couple of days later I’m sat on the floor surrounded by five pairs of legs at the Microdance’s rehearsal space on the north end of Brick Lane. Alex doesn’t allow me to melt into the wall, so I take a spot by Gavin’s feet, mesmerised by his pedal board. They do two run-throughs of the set they’ll be playing at the end of the week, cutting off ‘Devour’s feet so it can segue into ‘Goodbye Lily Laser’. The two blend flawlessly, but I’m not too happy about my pet being mistreated. Lily Laser then morphs into the noise fest that will close the set – a nameless monster affectionately called ‘Death Jam’.

I play them a video recording of their ‘performance’. Gavin says something about not realising they were that loud. It’s nonsense. Nothing’s loud to willing ears.

—-

‘I never played you my old bedroom recordings.’

We’re back home and Alex is mucking about with his laptop. He plays a track studded with the natural fuzz of isolation and echoes. It’s layered and textured and lonesome, with a burst of stark guitar. Before I can get a word out:

‘How great is that, eh? I wrote that when I was 22.’
‘It’s great.’ I parrot.
‘It’s that guitar, right? I mean just listen to it!’
He replays the solo. Then he tempers his statement.
‘I don’t play guitar as well as I used to, though. I haven’t played the guitar well for years now.’

Self-deprecation isn’t any more credible than self-aggrandisation. At the rehearsal I’d sat bewitched by song after seamless song punctuated by Alex calling himself and everyone else out on inaudible errors. Right now, he appears to be nothing but entirely honest and all I can do is wonder what ‘well’ sounds like.

There are more demos – demos that have been lying in wait for years. Demos that were recorded yesterday. ‘I wrote a new song!’ he declares every other day, and he plays it on the electric with elation so palpable it makes the room a little bit warmer. It’s always exceptional and it’s always frustrating because he already knows.

—-

‘It changed my life,’ he’s explaining the story behind his side project. ‘my own ideas of self-worth. Before it happened, I thought I was god. After, it was endless days of anxiety, self-doubt and fear.
‘Affirmative meditation has really helped me out. It’s basically just me reminding myself what an awesome bastard I am.’
‘That’s better than having drugs do it for you,’ I concede, understanding the philosophy behind the mantra.
‘It’s the reason I created Captain Keevill and his Darkest Horses. The songs that came out of it were too dark for the Microdance.’

It’s true. While The Microdance aren’t quite the shimmery twee-pop the name might lead you to expect, their songs are extroverted, audacious and sticky – the life of any party. CK + HDH would falter in a crowd but radiate eloquence when left alone. They’re not too keen on being at the party.

—-

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London is really tough on a band like us. On our day we give people no chance but to succumb, we overwhelm them and thankfully that is more regular now! But if we’re 20% off our game or the sound in the venue is not up to it, trying to convey this art, which is perhaps a little more complex and profound than what people are used to, can be very difficult – it gets lost on a lot of people. It’s not easy being in a band whose music is about flourishes of spirit and unexpected turns when the appreciation of music these days is largely based on expectation.

—-

We’re at the King’s Head Theatre where Adam Spreadbury-Maher has put together a spectacular production of A Tale of Two Cities. ‘Yo Yo @ 26’ and ‘We Are Made of Evil Things’ fill the room at curtain call. Alex introduces me to Carla – his friend and cousin – who asks me how I’m finding London.

‘It’s like any other city…’ I begin, tactlessly.
She’s not having it. She tells me there’s no other place like it in the world. She explains its culture and personality. She tells me London is beautiful.

Cities are never beautiful, but I don’t say that out loud. Cities are, by their very nature, ugly – loaded with crime, deceit, addiction, xenophobia and violence. Some cities are just better at putting up a front than others. London, I have no doubt, is as ugly as any other city in the world.
But I remedy my mistake and truthfully say I’ve loved everyone I’ve met.

—-

It’s my last evening in London. Bridget‘s come over with her pup, Eugene. Bridget is ex-Microdance and currently the other half of Captain Keevill and his Darkest Horses. We turn the lights down and they start to play. Eugene has sprawled himself across my lap, his head buried between my legs. I like to believe he senses my melancholy, though it’s more likely he’s found a willing slave to scratch his head. Bridget blows him kisses mid-song. The moon is full, and the sky uncharacteristically cloudless.

I think about what Carla said the night before and I find myself believing it.

In this moment – in tremolo evenings and lamplight – London is beautiful.

I think about what Alex said on my very first day, and, incredibly, I can believe that too.

The Microdance are the best fucking band in London.

—-

Listen/Buy | SoundCloud/BandCamp

No really, BUY MORE MUSIC

bloody knives – death

Posted in Discover, Review by R on August 9, 2013

I don't care either

bloody knives don’t fucking care.

they aren’t fussed that they don’t have guitars.
they can’t be arsed pressing the shift key.
no one listens beyond two minutes.
no one is worth more than ten.

morality is an illusion.
death is an inevitability.

own it.

Introducing: Wonky Doll and the Echo

Posted in Discover by R on June 29, 2013
(L-R) Kostas Antonakoglou, George Lemons (feat. UV protection), YIOS and Octapus.

(L-R) Kostas Antonakoglou, George Lemons (feat. UV protection), YIOS and Octapus.

Wonky Doll and the Echo – named so because it’s shorter than saying “George Lemons, YIOS, Kostas Antonakoglou and Octapus” but not by much. Wonky Doll and The Echo are from Athens. The one in Greece. If you ever see them, introduce yourself. That’s George on the vocals and the guitar, there’s YIOS on the bass and the backing vocals, you can find Kostas on the synths and the guitar and behind them you have Octapus on the drums.”

First things first – what is up with that name? George says “Our name symbolizes something beautiful and worn at the same time, mainly because of the time passed or its mistreatment. The echo interferes in order to give the essence of sound.”

Wonky Doll and the Echo are three years old – yes really – formed in 2010, by George and YIOS. Says George: “We created some songs we actually liked and we decided to form a band. By that time we met Kostas, whose part is to play the synth and occasionally the guitar. Then, we found Octapus and after a while we became a solid team.”

He continues: “Our first goal was to make songs we enjoy. After that, we realized that many people like our songs too so we started doing live shows and a few months later we recorded our first LP. Wonky Doll and the Echo is a vehicle for artistic expression for all four of us.”

They’ve got a video out – heads up: it’s got blood, scorpions, and a wonky doll (natch). The director of this creepfest is this fellow called Costas Gounaris who the band met through a friend at their album’s release gig in October 2012. Just look at what he made for them… wtf was the brief? Kostas (the one in the band) explains

“We told him we wanted something impressive, so, he came up with the brilliant idea of making a double project, a music video and a short movie. He also proposed getting the budget through crowd-funding (on Indiegogo). And so it happened, in February 2013, thanks to our friends and fans we were ready to start shooting. After two months of pre-production, shootings and post-production, we now all enjoy our first music video. The short movie is still on the post-production stage and we have taken care of the soundtrack!”

It’s more than just mindless gore – you can’t help but feel there’s meant to be some sort of profound message hiding under there. What is it? The band doesn’t elaborate much and George declares elusively that it’s all “just symbolic images of the director, visualizing the lyrics and the atmosphere of the song.” – yes, sure. We believe that.

Here’s what’s interesting: Wonky Doll and The Echo – you hadn’t heard of them till now – but they’ve gone and come out with this, yes, ok creepy, but also impressively executed… music video. Who even makes music videos anymore? And what indie band would invest so much in a video of this calibre? Why a video? Why now?  Kostas puffs up with pride and explains the band’s aesthetic preference: “I cannot vouch for other bands, but we are definitely one of those that believe audio and video mixed together can give a very impressive and artistic result. Not to mention the fact that music videos bring you closer to the audience. And it’s not just music videos, we recently started to add video art on our gigs and it really enriches the atmosphere. It’s perfect!”

Speaking of gigs… what are they like? “Every gig we’ve done is quite memorable,” says Octapus, “but I would choose the one we supported Clan of Xymox, in December 2011, for various reasons. It was our second gig and we were playing for the first time in front of more than 300 people. Plus, at the end of the show, Panos from Geheimnis Records, proposed to start discussing the release of an album in vinyl. After a few months, Pleasant Thoughts was in our hands in vinyl!”

The album – Pleasant Thoughts – is as, if not more, admirably put together as the video. ‘The Cut’, listened to without the visuals, is a jewel. The album’s got the Cure-ish quality that makes it as suited to a dim flat brimming with desperately mingling dark-haired 37-year-olds as to a cable-laden haven of a teenager going through the paces of self-discovery and deliberately imposed self-loathing. Apathy masks depth and aggression masks melancholy. Despite its blatant complexity, YIOS explains: “The album has a DIY production. It was recorded in George’s bedroom which we “redecorated” a bit of course. We were lucky to have all necessary equipment. The biggest challenge was the production process, mainly done by me and George. It lasted for about two months and we spent many hours each day working on the songs. We almost started hating seeing each other.” He laughs.

You wouldn’t believe it if they hadn’t told you – there isn’t the faintest hint of bedroom recording on Pleasant Thoughts. George adds “The more we play together, the more we evolve as musicians. This is affecting our sound that changes day by day. We have a lot of material and we really want to share it with everyone soon. I have to tell you, I’m excited about our forthcoming work. Our new material sounds deeper, atmospheric but with even more catchier rhythms.”

‘catchy’ – not exactly the word I’d go for when describing something this heavy and bleak but HEY, whatever floats your boat. Listen for yourself:

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