Review: Seismic drone and progressive rock specialists Earth return with their first studio album in some five years, It's both "Datura's Crimson Veils" and "She Rides An Air Of Malevolence" that, as would be hoped for on an Earth album, goes the distance in reminding us just how brooding and journeysome an extended instrumental with them can be. With "Descending Belladonna" stemming from a live project of soundtrack work too, the album itself is full of cinematic quality. Break downs, vamps and progressions add all manner of drama to compositions in tracks like "An Unnatural Carousel" and "The Mandrake's Hymn", with the LP overall delivering the very the best in monolithic basslines, crashing Zildjian cymbals and distorted guitars of epic rock and refrained minimalism.
Review: Where were you seven years ago? School? High school? College? First job? Last job? Whatever the answer it's certainly not the same place as Efterklang were, and still are. The Danish trio have never been of this world, yet give us so many opportunities to consider the emotion and passion this world offers. The first album to be fully written in their native tongue accentuates those qualities - dreamy soundscapes, different and decidedly bewitching intonation. It's an epic journey, with the likes of "Uden Ansigt" among the most epic, like Bon Iver's vocals slow dancing with the soaring instrumentation of Sigur Ros. "Havet Lofter Sig" ups the beauty, fittingly on the shortest track - gentle pianos, unnaturally pitched backing voices and baritone lead creating real yearning, proving nothing great lasts forever. Or longer than a couple of minutes. Cutting to the chase, it's a mesmerising work you're sure to have on repeat.
Review: HTRK's debut album in 2007 proved to be a seminal one for fans of experimental noise. It cooks up impressively abrasive and caustic textures, crashing waves of white noise and sonorous pulses that speak of a future dystopian world. Tense and absorbing throughout, the lo-fi design and elements of post punk, post industrial and post techno makes it a modern analogy of the likes of Throbbing Gristle. 12 years later, the record sounds just as good, and arguably even more prescient in these twitchy times of digital surveillance, social anxieties and worldwide political tensions. It might be bleak, then, but that doesn't mean there is real beauty in this album's disharmony.
Review: Jon Thor Birgisson (Sigur Ros) and his partner Alex Somers make brain cleansing and heavenly ambient as Jonsi & Alex. 10 years ago they put out cult classic "Riceboy Sleeps" and to mark the anniversary the whole album has been lovingly remastered across six slabs of wax. Taking the time to do nothing but sit back and sink deep into this album is a pleasure you will thank yourself for: its pastoral synths slowly wash over you while muted pads gently unfold, evolve and evaporate as barely-there voices from the Kopavogsdaetur Choir come in and out of focus next to smeared strings from Icelandic quartet Amiina. Perfection.
Review: It's no secret the love that London promoter and record label Upset! The Rhythm have for the ever rotating cast of musicians that is Normil Hawaiians. This latest reissue of the English band sees the label complete its retrospection of Normil Hawaiians following reissues of More Wealth Than Money and Return of The Ranters LPs. The band's music is the real deal when it comes to raw and emotional UK post punk and wave. This album in particular, which failed to take off in 1984 due to label and liquidation issues, sees its 2019 release arrive with a collectors edition of bonus tracks, including live cuts, album outtakes and unreleased B-sides. A 'o ia!
Review: It's certainly not going to surprise any newcomers to Purple Pilgrims that this duo hail from the enchanted landscapes of New Zealand. A timeless sound pervades the work on their sophomore long form effort, befitting a corner of the world that's just far enough from the relentless hype machine of the music industry to allow for genuine individuality to shine through. At times tracks invoke images of endless, unspoilt landscapes where sirens lure us into painfully beautiful sonic worlds. Opener "How Long Is Too Long" is a case in point, along with the pained beauty of "Delphiniums In Harmony/Two Worlds Away" and "Ruinous Splendour". This Mortal Coil eat your heart out. In other moments, what's here gives more than a soft nod to the heyday of hypnotic, opiate rock 'n' roll; "Sensing Me" and "I'm Not Saying" were surely born in a time when free love really was free.