New Nosound Announced (Video)

 

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Forthcoming from KScope.

The ever-fascinating and brilliant Giancarlo Erra just released the new video on social media.  This from Erra:

I’ve never been so nervous and excited about a new Nosound album, probably not even for the first one!

During the last few years a deep changing process happened, with my voice and my music and everything around my career. I somehow started seeing much more clearly who I am and where to go, ‘allowing myself’ to do so.

This album is the closest I’ve ever been to my own musical vision, and Don’t You Dare is one of the outstanding tracks for me, brilliantly interpreted in the full video by Manuel Lobmaier.

You can preorder the album here.

Minus

Black Sabbath meets Pink Floyd, in other words it’s heavy metal, but quite psychedelic, atmospheric and drawn-out. Kraków’s Minus exhibits significant post metal and stoner hues too. The album actually progresses from stoner straight into post rock territory. From a three minute album opener to nine minute compositions essentially reflects that trend. From fractious Soundgarden like textures to introspective drone riffs – the journey couldn’t be more seamless.

Mark Hollis, Part II: Aching for Grace

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Ironic or sincere?  1988’s Spirit of Eden.

Yesterday, I had the grand fortune of spending a serious amount of time listening to and writing about Talk Talk.  There are few subjects in the world that give me so much pleasure as does TT. For years, one of my closest friends (and a friend since the fall of 1986), Kevin McCormick (a fellow progarchist and progarchy editor) and I have talked about writing a full-length book on Talk Talk.  We even have a rather strong and detailed outline.  The publishing venues, sadly, are not as easy to find as one might imagine. While Talk Talk has a loyal following, it is a small one.  A few years ago, we submitted a proposal—which, from my biased perspective was really good—to 33 1/3 Books (Bloomsbury).  Sadly, they not only felt no enthuasiam for our project, they deemed it unworthy, even of comment.  Just a simple “no thanks.”  But, Kevin and I are nothing if nothing if not persistent and enthusiastic.  Indeed, some might even say “obnoxious!”

So, if there’s anyone in the reading audience who would like to publish a roughly 60,000 word manuscript on the significance and influence of Talk Talk, please let us know!  We could have a completed book to you within a year or less.

Continue reading “Mark Hollis, Part II: Aching for Grace”

Review: Glaston – Inhale / Exhale

Glaston

Calling Swiss band Glaston post-rock does this Zurich / Basel four-piece a bit of injustice. They do include plethora of post-rock elements on “Inhale / Exhale,” the group’s first full-length album, but it’s definitely much more than that. Welcome to the soundtrack of emotions, free form and complexity.

Jumping on a bandwagon in 2014 with the release of the “Setting Out” single, the quartet spent next three years in honing and redefining their sound, reaching its climax with the 2017 release. Ten songs of “Inhale / Exhale” show that there is much to the of post-rock than delay-engaged tremolo riffs, what’s ultimately proven with the album opener and one of the strongholds “Game of Tones.” This polarising piece flows manually from very minimal to complex, never exuding any feelings of fatigue. And that is the biggest hallmark of Glaston and this release. Where many bands from the post-rock branch get stuck in proverbial mud of repetitiveness, Glaston manage to beautifully arrange different structures that form their songs. Be it the almost 10-minute epic contender of “Sunnar” or the shortest interlude “This Isn’t Happening.”

Even at their most repetitive, “Ihale / Exhale” doesn’t feel like that at all, as the music here is carefully put together and measured with microscopic precision. It is not to say that Glaston get mathematical, but rather it is the free-form factor of their composition skills and senses that allow them to be methodical and random at the same time.

“Ihale / Exhale” is available on Bandcamp.

 

Interview: SPURGE

Spurge

Drawing parallels to the work of mighty Frank Zappa and David Bowie, as well as Isis, Cult of Luna, the Mars Volta and the Dear Hunter, the Atlanta-based band Spurge seems like a promising act. But delving deeper to their most recent release, an EP simply titled “Four More Songs” reveals plethora of different sounds and vibes.

The creator of the band, bassist Jen Hodges gives us an insight into the world of Spurge, their writing process, and more.

What made you go for the name Spurge?

When I first got players together in Nashville, this was just a solo project and I was releasing material as Jen Hodges.  My musicians were wanting like a “Jen Hodges and something or other” name.  I told them I was down and whatever they picked was good for me.  My drummer at the time had a very endearing lisp and excited called out “Sthpurge!”  We were all kind of unsure what he said at first. He said it again and told us it was a kind of weed.  We all dug the double entendre.  For a while we called ourselves Jen Hodges and Spurge.  We dropped the Jen Hodges this year because the band feels like a total group effort at this point.

How do you usually describe your music?

I like to call it progressive post rock.  Most of the time people have no idea what that means so I end up explaining that we play post rock type textures but add in guitar/bass/drum solos.  I’ve heard people call it neo-classical rock, experimental,  ambient, and fusion before.  I believe someone called us a jam band once as well.

What is your writing process like?

Whenever I’m noodling around on the bass or guitar by myself I’ll come up with a few riffs I dig.  I’ll usually collect 15 or so riffs over the course of six months and start stringing them together using theory to craft transitions.  I record a scratch take with me playing all the instruments and send it out to my band.  My band are all top tier at what they do, so I tell them whatever guitar/drum parts they write is cool with me.  They always come back with some pretty sick stuff.  We rehearse it, record it, then I’ll go back in and record my bass solos as the finishing touch.  It’s an odd approach but I like how loose and open it is.  The creative process is my favorite part of playing.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

There are a lot of players I admire.  Their music inspires me to contribute to humanity’s little collection of sound.  I’ve never been able to duplicate other people’s styles.  Mostly due to my bass being upside down and backwards.  However, I like being a part of the musician community and hearing other people’s music motivates me to keep writing.  Some of the musicians who influenced me at an early age are Flea, Buckethead, Jimmy Urine, Layne Staley, David Gilmore, John Paul Jones, Victor Wooten, and Thundercat.

Four More Songs

What is your favourite piece on the new EP “Four More Songs” and why?

Oof.  That’s tough.  I like the bass solo best in Amphibian.   I like the verse in Om the best.  I like the piano solo in Rain the best.  I like the guitar riffs in David Bowie the best.  I like Miles’ vocals in Amphibian the best.  I don’t think I can pick an overall piece I like best though.

What makes “Four More Songs” different?

Different than my other albums?  Or different in general?  Different than my other albums because I had an idea about what I wanted before I started writing.  I knew for sure I wanted to write a 7 minute song, a David Bowie tribute, a schizophrenic piece with a metal bridge, and I wanted to finish Rain.  I had been in the process of writing Rain for five years at that point.  It was a reject song from a previous band.   The record is different in general because it’s got my style in it.  All my music is different than most stuff out there.  I am proud about that.  I feel like I finally found my sound.

What should music lovers expect from “Four More Songs”?

Beauty, ugliness, groove.  A lot of texture.  Some experimentation in recording techniques.  We recorded Wayford’s vocals on Om by putting a box fan between him and the mic.  I broke a major rule and stacked 4 bass lines on top of one another in David Bowie.  My poor producer wasn’t too happy about it.  He’s the man though and heard my idea and made it work.   I think this is a record you can listen to all the way through and be sucked in enough not to skip any parts.  There is no filler.  And you never know what’s coming next.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

All of the emotions.  (I just made myself laugh.)  I’d like them to feel content, relaxed even.  I’d like them to forget about their phones and their responsibilities and allow themselves to be taken through the story.  Maybe hype during the more exciting parts.  Entertained.  I’d like them to feel entertained.  Whatever emotion produces that outcome is fine with me.  As long as they are indeed feeling something.  Then I’ve done my job.

Spurge band

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

I’ve never been on tour where we don’t sleep in the van or on the floor or in someone’s basement so I’d have to say studio life.   I’d love to experience tour where we get a hotel room each night.  That might change my mind a little bit.  Tours have been fun, yet exhausting.  Studios are sacred spaces.  The creative process is my favorite part of playing so the studio is hard to beat.  I know a lot of people can get stressed out in the studio, but I’ve always been comfortable not having control so I just let people be themselves on the tracks.  If I don’t like it, I’ll edit it later.  I think the music reflects the positive vibes in the studio.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Wow that’s tough too.  Only 3?  John Prine Live, Dark Side of the Moon, and RHCP Mother’s Milk.  I just looked those choices over for about two minutes and I’m sticking with my answer.

“Four More Songs” is available from Bandcamp. Stay in contact with Spurge via Facebook and Twitter, and visit their website for more information and news.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=4034617188/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

7Sleepers

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7Sleepers

So, what happens when you mix one extremely talented musician with one extremely ditzy professor?  You get a notice about some amazing music six months too late!

As I was going through some research papers tonight, I found this package from Ann Arbor, Michigan– a CD (beautifully packaged, by the way) and a number of postcards from 7Sleepers.

Make sure you check them out.  I’ll be reporting on them a bit more in the near future. . . .

In the meantime, my apologies to Robin and to all progarchists!  Also, make sure you check out Iris’s reviews at GrendelHQ.

PET SOUNDS, 1966-2016: Fifty Years of Prog

pet-sounds
Arguably, the very first prog album.

Though I’m sure someone could make the case for either REVOLVER or SGT. PEPPER’s being the first prog album, I’ve always turned to PET SOUNDS by the Beach Boys.  I’m sure there’s a bit of the American in me that desires this to be so, so I can’t completely claim to be unbiased.  I know English proggers–understandably–think of Prog as one of their many national gifts to the world, somewhere above the Magna Carta.  And, it is!  Still, it’s conceivable that it came about in California but then was perfected by the English.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

 

As Brian Wilson has noted, he found his own inspiration for the album in RUBBER SOUL by the Beatles.  Is it possible the influence went both directions across the Atlantic?  Most certainly.

Regardless, PET SOUNDS is fifty years old.  And, what an extraordinary achievement it is.  Though one might regard it somewhat probably as a Brian Wilson solo album, it came out under the name of the Beach Boys, and it carries with it many of the trademark Beach Boy sounds and touches.

Continue reading “PET SOUNDS, 1966-2016: Fifty Years of Prog”

Nosound’s Teide 2390: Profoundly Delicate

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Nosound.  Kscope, 2015.

Of all the bands I love and review, the hardest to review—without question—is Nosound.  At least for me.

This post is a perfect example to illustrate my failings.  I’ve had a copy of Nosound’s 2015 live album, TEIDE 2390, for nearly a year, and I’ve still not written a review.  And, if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with writing, and I’m especially obsessed with writing about what I love.

I was recently told as a criticism: in my writing, I “fling superlatives.”  My response to this is: “why, yes, I absolutely and most certainly love to fling superlatives.”  It’s true.  Just imagine what I’m like when I’m lecturing to forty 19-year olds.

With Nosound, however, it’s really, really (sometimes outrageously!) hard to fling superlatives.  Why?  Because everything glorious about Nosound is understated, tasteful, and minimalist.  As a 48-year old Kansan, I just don’t do minimalist well.  At least when it comes to writing.  Yet, I know and appreciate minimalism—especially when it comes to the computers and gadgets designed by Steve Jobs (rest in peace) or the music so lovingly crafted by Mark Hollis or Arvo Part.

Enter Giancarlo Erra.  His Nosound is profoundly delicate.  Not effete.  By not means, effete.  Never.  But, certainly delicate.

As I’ve written before, Erra is a genius, plain and simple.  This is as clear in his photography as it is in his music and his lyrics.  Again, far from effete, he approaches art and the world of art and creativity with an extreme sensitivity.  His creativity in his photography is as much about what is not there as it as about what is there.

The same is even more true of his music.  Nosound is as much about silence as it about notes.

Throw in Erra’s somewhat mystical lyrics and dream-like vocals and you find yourself—as a listener—fully immersed in his world, drifting along some radically natural psychedelic dream state.

His lyrics deal with frustration, loss, desire, hope, depression, joy, and everything that matters in this world and, perhaps, in the next.

A little over seventy-five minutes in length and recorded in September, 2014, on a Spanish island, TEIDE 2390 demonstrates that Erra’s genius is not merely in the studio.  As he’s demonstrated before—his live version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” is possibly better than the original version from the early 1970s (heresy, I know!)—he knows exactly how to create a full minimalist sound, even on stage and away from the hyper-controlled environment of a professional studio.  This is no small achievement, as the music demands the full attention of an audience that probably would not mind head banging.  No one head bangs to Nosound.  Instead, one swirls, and rides, and flies, and soars, and dips, and drifts.

I think it’s probably fair to state that many proggers like their music heavy and fast.  Erra reminds us so importantly that we need to breathe as well.