Welcome to yet another edition of Review Rundown, one of our longest-running features on Everything Is Noise. Ten albums, ten bands, ten short reviews for your pleasure. Coupled with the recently released The Noise Of May feature, these lists will keep you busy for quite some time. Today we have Artificial Language, Jordsjø, Chris Orrick, Les Comptes de Korsakoff, Masvidal, Pillars, Adrift, The Membranes, Ihlo, and SINKANE.
Check out previous editions here if you aren’t sated by all the new music yet!
Artificial Language has every box checked off that makes me all tingly with Now We Sleep. There is copious piano, keyboard, atmosphere, orchestration on top of some well-made songs. The guitarists can compete with the best of them while the low end easily holds down the fort. The singer has a nice soothing voice which compliments the music perfectly; getting intense when needed and laying low during the quiet sections. But for some reason, it just didn’t sit as well as it should for me.
“The Back of My Mind” opens this record, it acts a little like an overture. The song moves through a few different passages which you’ll hear throughout the album. If you like this song or not is a good indication of whether you’ll enjoy the rest of the record.
I think my favourite tracks are “Further from the Surface” and “The Wild Haunt”. Both of these sit right smack in the middle of the tracklist and come one after another. To me, they feel a little more stripped back, despite the many layers, and come across as more open to who they are. “The Wild Hunt” opens with a classical piano piece and closes with a heavily reverb-ed lead guitar. Very nice.
If this is your thing you’ll definitely like it, otherwise it’s a very adequate perusal. To me, Now We Sleep had all the right ingredients but it felt a bit unmemorable. Still, there are plenty who will love this album, and for good reasons, so please do yourself a favour and listen for yourself.
Apparently, all of us here at Everything Is Noise love Jordsjø as you can see from our Weekly Featured Artist article. I also wanted to take some time to shout out how incredible Nattfiolen really is. We’re a sharing community after all.
Truthfully, it was tricky writing this review. I found myself just listening to the music, I didn’t want to multitask. There’s so much attention to detail within each track. Infusing classic folk prog with some jazz, Nattfiolen delivers some pure beauty.
There are elements present which remind me of classic Super Nintendo games, “Til Våren” for example gives me Chrono Trigger vibes at the beginning. It eventually branches out into synth which wouldn’t sound out of place in an Atari 2600 game. The song, like the album, progresses (see what I did there) into a classic prog rock masterpiece.
Nattfiolen captures many eras and styles of music and blends them all together into one cohesive collection of sounds. This seems like it should be a big ol’ garbled mess of noise but just remember: Everything Is Noise! Puns aside, from the moment I played the first song on here I knew this was a winner of an album. Please allow yourself an early (or late) birthday gift and give this a go!
If you want a heroic dose of self-reflection and politics, then Chris Orrick is your man. Rapping is a craft and this guy is of A-star quality, weaving together poetry and food for thought with a fluidity that sets your mind adrift. In this respect, there could be no more an apt title to this record than Out to Sea.
But that’s not all. Equal to Orrick’s incisive vocals is the dreamy, hard-bass music, sampled, warped into pleasant oblivion, and potent enough to send that ominous gap between the ears shimmering into a jazzy sub-reality. It’s an effect achieved most classically in A Tribe Called Quest but harnessed to modern effect in this album. The record ultimately serves as an insightful daydream which, I’m sure it’s fair to say, everyone can relate to in some shape or another.
Chris Orrick knows hip hop. He knows us, himself and, for better or worse, the world around him. To say it’s on the pulse is an understatement. There is absolutely zero wrong with this record, and a whole lotta right to be extrapolated. Dive into this if you strive for a more classic fix of old-school hip-hop. If you want something a little more modern and relevant, still dive into it! You can’t lose.
Do you like Mr. Bungle? Do you like PoiL, Ni and PinioL? Would you like to hear a monstrously sideways nose-dive into the most finely tortured excesses of all these outfits combined? Well, quit worrying, because it’s here. And it’s called Nos amers.
In terms of jazz composition, this record is tight as hell, and the musical critique should really end there. It’s obvious these guys know what they are doing, and where they take it from that point onward is a prerogative clear only to them. Fortunately, listeners get a free pass into this experience. Is it so grating that it’s inaccessible? Actually, no. The music is often smooth, pleasantly rocking and ultimately, dare I say it, lovely. It’s the vocals, slicing through the veil with fearless charisma, which renders this experience far from normal.
But that’s okay, right? Because this album is awesome. This year has seen a humble undercurrent of quirky trumpet-led prog and Les Comptes de Korsakoff are here to continue that trend. It is so horribly easy to bypass record like this. But should you take the ride, escape all reason, and adopt the vocals as your humble tour guide, then you will reap the benefits and resulting emotion in record time. Miss and, well, miss out!
There are few things in this world for me that can elicit an emotional response that Mythical has given to me. It is, at its core, absolute beauty. Paul Masvidal has created a raw and open letter into his state of mind and his heart that wraps you in comfort and understanding. Introspective lyrics force you to look into yourself and see yourself for who you are and how you see the world around you. It is deep, but finding your own meaning is a reward all its own.
Right out of the gate, the album opens up with an otherworldly ringing sound. This is then overtaken by Masvidal‘s subtle guitar picking and gorgeous vocals. “No Other Words” asks that you be true to yourself, through the good and the bad. The track is soft and soothing, never gaining too much power as to take away from the message being sent. Other songs such as “Parasite” and “Nebula” continue this interstellar journey through the record, never leaving the vast expanse of the sound. Each song is special and heartfelt, reaching deep inside your center to truly make you feel vulnerable yet safe. Mythical is nothing short of a masterpiece.
There is not much I am able to tell you that a single listen through this album could do better. Take the time to immerse yourself in this record and see who you are on the other side.
If there is a single soul that doubts the emotional impact that instrumental music can have on you, I challenge you to take a trip through Cavum. The up-and-downs through this album are fun and exciting, yet ominous and thought-provoking.
I am new to Pillars, and after hearing Cavum, I have realized my mistake in that fact. The lead single “Dissolution” is a powerhouse of suspense and energy. The heavy intro that breaks into a sea of discordance with the layers of guitars is simply incredible. The culmination of this at the end of the song brings it full circle and shows the ingenuity and creativity that dwells in this entire album. We can see the other side of this creativity with “Solace”. A much softer track, there is an aura of wonder and hope to it that doesn’t stray too far from the theme of the album to make it feel out of place. With “Dying Light”, there is depth and body to it that shines through the negativity of its sibling songs. It is more proof of the power that is within this record.
This could easily make its way into my list of favorite post-rock records, and it would deserve that spot multiple times over. This is an absolute can’t-miss record for anyone, regardless of preference. Now quit reading and start listening.
Seven years after their previous effort Black Heart Bleeds Black, the sludgy being that is Adrift emerges back into the public eye with their third album Pure. The Spanish quartet lays down their strongest and most versatile album yet, comprised of six songs and lasting over 50 minutes. Despite the long wait, Pure doesn’t leave the listener cold or any expectations unmet.
Although being a tad monotonous at times, the opus still keeps the listener contained in its clutches for the entire time without any further gimmicky efforts, ever so often veiled as “artistic decisions” and whatnot. Maintaining the flow is perhaps the most interesting aspect on this album, given that the violently hammering rhythmic sections in songs like ”Mist” and ”Embers” make you want to eat a block of concrete and bash your head to the wall (and you’ll be smiling while doing so). In contrast, the fragile and bare passages strewn throughout the album simply keep you relaxed and entertained.
Stylistically, Pure is a concoction of sludge and post-metal crowned with black metal influenced, hardcore-esque vocals, that in all of their simplicity give every word a bit more depth and meaning than what you might have grown to expect from vocalists in these genres. All in all, Pure is earth-shattering in its heaviness and strong example of a band in their prime, and one can only hope that this kind of music will reach a wider audience, deservedly.
Sometimes you find yourself listening to a band and wondering why on earth haven’t you heard about them before. I was in this situation a while back when I first came across The Membranes, a UK based post-punk/noise rock outfit. They have been around since 1977 (although having a nearly 20-year pause in the middle) and recently released their eighth full-length What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away.
The album is humongous, clocking in over an hour and ten minutes through 16 songs. It’s a theatrical colossus; each track is self-governing and independent but together they make up a breathing, evolving, and self-aware entity. It’s delightful when a band with such history remains so ambitious, avid, and ever so pleasing when they can actually pull off something like this. I find that the album is pretty heavy to listen to in one sitting and does have moments where my attention wanes. However, there is still so much perfectly executed music, quirky and interesting instrumentation and songwriting, that the aforementioned flaws can easily be overlooked.
Speaking of perfectly executed music, I find the more mellow and slowly unwinding tracks to be the strongest and most enjoyable. “The City is an Animal (nature is Its Slave)”, “Snow Monkey” and “The Ghosts of Winter Stalk This Land” represent exactly that department. At best, the tracks are intense experiences, applying tons of layers, painful choirs, slowly shifting song structures, unusual instrumentation and ominous vocals akin to one Nick Cave.
Very rarely an album of this measure has what it takes to mesmerize you and nail you to the back of your chair, forcing you to listen to it, no matter how ponderous it is to digest.
Impressive debuts in progressive metal have been hard to come by due to the saturation experience since 2015, but Ihlo‘s Union stands out. Sure, it draws heavily on TesseracT and Haken, but it feels unique and stands out against its peers. Comprised of seven meaty tracks, the final one stretching out to a whopping fifteen minutes, Union is a journey you must embark on.
Expect plenty of djent, but fear not, these aren’t the same grooves you’ve heard for the last 10 years. These riffs sound fresh thanks to the skillful composition of the tracks that let them stand out, coupled with the band’s reluctance to groove endlessly as some progressive metal bands do. When the breakdowns hit, they are really fun and bouncy, whilst simultaneously having the ability to crush you like fruit.
Vocals are very Ash O’Hara at times, but absolutely have a tone and charm of their own. Some days I struggled with them and could only imagine how tight the trousers of the lead singer Andy Robinson must’ve been when laying down bars, whilst during others, I felt fully immersed by the rich tones of the vocals and guitars on the album. I was surprised at the high quality of the synth work on offer, this added a complex and cinematic layer to the songs that gave the album more of a conceptual feel to it.
Definitely give Union a spin, especially if you get down to TesseracT or Leprous. It is great to see bands carrying the progressive metal torch forwards and I look forward to more innovative metal from Ihlo.
As you’ll have seen in the last Review Rundown, my mind has been firmly focused on soul/world music as we approach the summer months, and one of the years must-listen albums in this genre is SINKANE‘s Dépaysé.
Dépaysé starts fun, and continues that momentum throughout its 40-minute run time. Combining the sound of big band jazz/afrobeat with soulful lyrics, the sound palette imbues the listener with fulfillment at any kind of volume. SINKANE‘s voice is perfectly snuggled within the warm music, punching through the mix effectively, yet not fully stealing the show from the instrumentation.
Appeal wise? This could hit all ages, from those who loved the reggae revolution in the last century, to those who love big band experiences or fans of the modern jazz wave. You are offered a wide range of styles as the album progresses and two tracks jump out the most. Title track “Dépaysé” is a psychedelic trip in the vein of Childish Gambino at points, a 70’s martial arts soundtrack at others. The vocals in this track are bilingual, amplifying the psych aspects of the song, but all in all making it an amazing experience.
The following track, which sounds like something out of Eddy Grant album with heavy African roots in the music, is a sharp shift from the heavy psychedelia the track before. This fluidity draws me to the album again and again as I scroll my soul playlist. Make sure to pick up this album and blast it loud this summer.