Just admit it. You’ve waited for this. Some bearded old dude, spanking you…
Wait wait wait. Wrong stream of thought. Nevermind. Last year, our team vastly enjoyed their little Noisemas with Inter Claus, so it was a no-brainer to bring it back to give our team the opportunity to get a very special gift at the end of the year. We all tried our best in 2020, so one more gift won’t hurt.
How does Inter Claus works? Glad you’re asking! All brave participants can send their wishlists to Inter Claus, kindly requesting a record they aren’t familiar with yet. After some magic with some herbs, Inter Claus provides those sweet little kids with an album unknown to them. After some time spent, they send their impressions in written form, and I’m very happy to show you the results. I’m a damn Grinch myself, so I’m glad that Inter Claus has my back for all the Christmas action. Enjoy the holidays and be lovely to each other.
I politely wrote to Inter Claus for an early festive treat this year, seeing as his previous present changed my life. Well, Mr. Claus hath once again flexed his encyclopaedic, intuitive musical muscle and delivered the exact soothing remedy I require via the rich, soulful tapestry of Niika‘s Close but Not Too Close. Released in May, the Chicago-based songwriter welds the fluttering melodicism of her versatile voice to an endearingly expressive performance on the guitar – a combination that regales the warmth and light of a season that now seems so distant. Moreover, Niika‘s latest album capitalises on these uplifting tones with numerous compositional flourishes and stylistic choices that bring regular joy.
Across the outing, Niika‘s birdsong-like trills swirl around ambient drone, as we are transported through light-footed, shimmering rhythms and laid-back songs that usher you into their open, easy-listening arms. Of note, “Girl of an Arc” offers playful jaunts before the meditative, hip-hop-infused jazz of “Witness” kicks in.
Each song is full of its own character and whimsy, and “Blue Smoke” is no exception. It’s a sapphire gem that dissipates into mind, body, and soul with an effortless grace, thanks to a sublime chorus that is impossible to resist. It also exemplifies Niika‘s ability to pursue unconventional melodies and harmonies without ever feeling jarring. Later, we are invited to partake in some “Bad Medicine” – a more paced number in tone and energy, especially in the chorus. Be warned though; the experience of this particular tonic leads to a somewhat unsettling (though nonetheless pleasant) end at the hands of a masterfully crafted second half.
“Dream Song” heralds the album’s unwelcome close with a minimalistic adieu that captures the charm and beauty in Niika‘s partnership with her guitar, crafting songs to mesmerising effect with total command over the emotive forces at play.
Thanks to 2020, I believe in the restorative, cathartic power of music more than ever. I also believe in Inter Claus more than ever, as he’s given me a great gift in the glowing form of Niika. Why not indulge in some self-care and give this a spin? You deserve the sanctuary of hope and warmth this festive season, and this record has plenty of both to go around.
This Xmas, I penned a letter to the mysterious and wise Inter Claus, requesting some dynamic sounds to guide me along this season of giving. During past festivities, he has delighted me with treats of hip-hop and folk, so this time I decided to test his jolly self by requesting some atmospheric and highly shreddy death metal. For lack of any actual stocking, I discovered one morning that Inter Claus had crept into my woodland cabin during the night (he must have spied on me while I typed in the keycode), breached my bedroom, and carefully stuffed a CD into one of my socks. I awoke to find the sock on the pillow next to me. A label containing a link to the prolific music website, ‘everythingisnoise.net’ was stickered on top. That CD was none other than the mighty fine tech death purveyors Symbolik, and their latest studio album, Emergence.
I was at once astounded by how ‘Christmassy’ the album artwork looked. So many enchanting low-lit icy textures. Marvelous! Well, these guys certainly got the job done and that’s no overstatement. You want shred? You want blast beats? You want an assortment of growls and enough atmospheric synth to transport you to far away realms? Well, you got it! I was immediately reminded of the high-calibre musicianship of modern tech death trailblazers such as Beyond Creation and Gorod. The fine talents behind Symbolik had tapped into something very special with Emergence, and presented it to the ears in masterful fashion. As with many a music genre, there is always the risk of stagnating an already well-covered set of tropes and creating something which, well, ain’t all that fun to hear. I’m pleased to announce that Symbolik fell nowhere near into this trap. Their music is quick-witted, entertaining, progressive, and full of surprises.
I particularly love the soundscapes of the tracks ”Invoking Oblivion”, “Corridors of the Consumed”, and “When Eternity Collapsed”. Grand job, guys! I am currently blasting the album full volume in my cabin for the seventeenth time this evening, glass of mulled wine in hand. The wolves are howling in the distance. The owls are bloody terrified. Thanks Symbolik, and thank you Inter Claus! Here’s to another successful festive season, and I wish glad tidings for you all. Yippie-ki-yay!
My gift from Inter Claus this year is certainly an interesting one, kind of like when you ask your old dear for a nice bottle of fragrance and she presents you with a gift set of Axe body spray and shampoo instead. Listening to Kooba Tercu’s album Proto Tekno has been interesting, but a journey I won’t be looking to repeat any time soon.
Proto Tekno is firmly on the noisier side of psychedelic music, with Kooba Tercu using distortion on everything they can lay their hands on. It is abrasive, abstract, and in ways genius, smashing all of these different sounds together to make a pretty trippy experience. Songs like “Qasan” and “Filter Feeder” would certainly be great for anyone looking for an otherworldly auditory experience, both featuring long, winding instrumental sections that send you space bound.
Unfortunately, gems like this are hard to come by in an album that is, in essence, a big jam session. The band recorded two albums in the same ten days of studio work, and I feel it really shows, especially in tracks like “Boiler”, a seven-minute slog through monotonous electronica. It has the opposite effect on me to psychedelia, I end up frustrated and too present in the moment, rather than off in the clouds like I have been to so many albums.
Objectively, there is definitely a lot of cool musicianship, in particular I will happily sing the band’s praises for creativity in sound. Some of the guitars and synths have really cool effects applied to them which definitely help melt your mind at a ferocious speed. Played through 5.1 speakers or headphones, you can really appreciate the mix, which is very unsettling at times, yet also has a certain warmth to it.
All in all, a cool album for those so inclined, but not one that will see the light of day on my speakers again. I’d rather have the Axe body spray.
This year has been quite something, hasn’t it? It is especially wild when you sit down and look back at the craziness unfolded in 2020. That is precisely what I asked Inter Claus for Noisemas: music that resembled the particular brushes of colors that defined such a year to reflect upon all the great, insane, and aggravating events witnessed and felt. Seconds later after sending in my wish list, however, I realized that it was all too vague of a request. Regardless, I threw this intrusive thought out into the dumpster fire engulfed in unnecessary anxieties, as Inter Claus gifted me a record that met and exceeded my expectations in a way I did not exactly anticipate. This record is DIMLIM’s MISC.
This is perfect! I thought after making a quick search of the band on Wikipedia. I have never really gotten a chance to explore the visual kei genre, save some songs from established acts like Dir En Grey and Versailles, and let me tell you, what a wonderful introduction this record turned out to be! MISC., as the title might imply, is a collection of miscellaneous sounds – modern and nostalgic alike – that are not only arranged together tastefully, but are also laid out in a way that is vibrant and fun even through repeated listens.
What I love about this record is that each track carries a distinct personality that can be appreciated either individually or within the context of the record. MISC. is chock full of sonic surprises that makes it hard to not be entertained from beginning to end. The bizarre hybrid of pop and hyperpop music, nu-metal, alternative, and math rock is truly amusing and admirable. The drums are surprisingly technical and musical, and the bass has a lot of groove, while the guitars bring out chugging riffs that may raise some eyebrows within the -core scenes. The theatrics and grit coming from the vocals further elevates the listening experience and makes the record so much more compelling.
If you’re into wacky, emotive, and overall enjoyable music, make sure to not skip this record! MISC. is really a kaleidoscope of moods and flavors, much like 2020. This record is a curious representation of the chaos that characterized this year, but also serves as a great companion for those who are hopeful for what the future years have to offer.
Over the years, Inter Claus has gotten a fair idea of what I like in my annual gifts: a sludgy beast often with a hint of experimentalism. This year was no different, but Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle had already taken care of my itch for a slow crawling beast. Hence, for this Noisemas, I asked for something dark and broody, but one which still felt light on a gloomy day. Enter Orochen and their second EP of 2020 (and third overall), Thylacine.
Based out of Gothenburg, Sweden, Orochen pride on being a collective with a refined mishmash of sounds, and Thylacine is the perfect introduction. At a distance, one could see it as a simple joint between the post-metal sound of Cult of Luna and the indie-folk music of Nick Cave. A closer listening reveals a much intricate weaving – the hooks of alternate rock, the percussion of post-rock, industrial landscapes, and even some classical sensibilities. From the bleak, dystopian tune of “Drift Away” to the melodic rhythm of “Inside the City”, Orochen manage to keep the listener hooked until the needle lifts off “The Jonestown Deathtape”.
Under this diverse atmosphere, the band tackles a dark and serious subject of the link between humans and the environment. Thylacine is the name of a striped Tasmanian tiger that went extinct in the 1930s, and Orochen ask who is next in line.
It has been a strange and challenging year for all of us, showcasing the delicate balance and fragility of the world we often take for granted. As we sit at the turn of the year, with a vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic set for deployment, we must not forget 2020 as we return to the old ‘normal’ life. Hopefully, the 20 minutes of Orochen‘s stellar Thylacine EP can be that reminder over this festive season.
When I heard Inter Claus was accepting wish lists
I put mine together with few flicks of my wrist.
Upon reflection, I thought it’d be better
If I sent him mine as a poetry letter.
It read: ‘Claus, my dear, forgive my word crimes,
I’m awfully bad at writing in rhymes.
They come across awkward, with poor sense of phrase,
And leave me with a headache that sometimes lasts days.
I feel insecure about this, I admit,
And dislike hearing people be better at it.
So to save my ego from getting a stinging,
I ask for a record that doesn’t have singing,
But if it must (though it’d make me scowl),
I ask that all singing be in form of a growl’.
I twiddled my thumbs for days on end
Anxiously waiting to see what he’d send,
And just when I thought my gifts would be nil,
He offered to me some tunes by B R I Q U E V I L L E.
E’en though both their name and the album are long
After just the first track I could’ve burst into song:
I felt like dear Inter had read my mind,
So delighted was I at this lovely find
Quelle is a dark and brooding delight;
The ratio of drone to riffs is just right,
With a smattering of post-rock, and tone to boot,
Everything about it is really quite beaut.
The songs ebb and flow with ease and grace,
Every one in the perfect place;
There’s really not much I would change if I could
Leaving me with this verdict: Quelle is good.
It’s just what I wanted and needed, plus more,
For it doesn’t need vocals, and that I adore.
If you delve into Quelle I’m sure you will find
That it can’t be summed up in just a few lines.
My rhyming is, and remains, quite shit,
So I guess you’d better just listen to it!
Inter Claus is one of the things which I now look out for at the end of the year. Especially this year, since it was a horrible one and since I missed out on last year’s Inter Claus. I’m quite happy with what my sonic gift is, it really lined up with stuff I enjoyed recently. That would be Emme Phyzema’s Unadulterated Bliss. Emme Phyzema is an ominous and mysterious band from Columbus, Ohio, USA. This is they’re fifth album and while I did not have time to walk thoroughly through the rest of their repertoire, I can still say for certain that this is quite a nice addition to the already madly surreal collection of sounds.
Unadulterated Bliss feels like a cross between a fever dream, a psychedelic trip, and a vision from some random god. Therefore, naturally, there’s no discernible direction or narrative sense going on across the record, nor does there seem to be anything even vaguely rooted in reality. I love all of that. You basically strap in for what is a sonic rollercoaster ride and you only get off when the ride is over – no backsies on this one.
The songwriting is very well-rounded and quite engaging. It’s reminiscent of progressive rock and rock in opposition or avant-prog (depends on how you want to look at it). There’s also a nice experimental splash in there which feels like an organic extension rather than an element or an approach.
The voicing of said writing revolves around something that’s more akin to electronic music rather than what you would normally associate with rock music. There’s still plenty of weight in the tunes themselves to make things feel more on the rock side. This particular blend also permits the music to be more versatile and crazy in its tonalities and it really shows.
Unadulterated Bliss is definitely one of the more solid and fun records I’ve heard this year. It really goes unhinged into a surreal realm where everything feels zany and out of place without any hesitation. It also manages to do this without any apparent flaws or dips in quality so to say. If you haven’t heard of this, and you resonate with some of the things I said – definitely make yourself a gift and go check it out!
Happy Holidays for all of you and as always, thanks for scrolling.