Nick Hallbery, AKA Edison’s Medicine, is starting the year as he means to go on. By this I mean he’s just released a debut EP, Hell Is Never Far Away. This isn’t really anything to get that excited about, as thousands of musicians have released debut EP’s this year, but what marks Hallbery out is that he’s released one that at times sounds like it’s come from three days in the future, but at the same time sounds like it’s also from three days ago.
Hell Is Never Far Away opens with Jean Baptiste, which sounds like Django Django being remixed by Dan Avery. Its catchy, rhythmic, but with a hint of big room flavour to it. Increments is harder hitting than the opener, the breakbeats are slightly tighter, the bassline deeper and the loops more menacing and invasive. As Increments progresses, everything gets tighter and cyclonic. Small eddies appear from nowhere only to disappear a few bars later. Melodies get lodged in your head only to vanish a few moments later, as another one has taken its place.
The EP closes with Godless Woman featuring Matilda Eyre. Eyre’s crisp vocals add an extra texture that was missing on earlier parts of the EP. Godless Woman is haunting and eerie, but in a delta blues way, rather than late night Channel 5 horror film. The combination of organic and synthetic sounds works well and makes you wonder if any of the previous tracks would have benefited from this treatment. After a few moments pondering you realise that no, they probably wouldn’t as you’d miss out on the subtle arranging and production.
This is an EP full of contradictions and xxx. On the surface you think it’s going to be an ambient house affair, due to its genre tags, but when you get into it you soon realise that its far more interesting and vibrant, running the gambit of experimental, tech-house, lo-fi techno and elements of soul pop, due to Eyre’s inclusion. But what is more impressive is how Hallbery has managed to arrange it in such a way that none of its elements are over, or, under powering. It all flows effortlessly along like its normal for all these elements to be occupying the same space together.
Mitch Murder empties his psychic hard drive and releases and odds and sods album for the ages
In certain circles Swedish synthwave producer Mitch Murder is nothing short of a deity. He makes contemporary electronic music that includes jazz, pop, soul and bossa nova and is influenced by Jan Hammer, Renoise, Vince DiCola and Paul Hardcastle, meaning that it has a sounds like the future while hinging at our cultural past.
As 2016 came to an end, Mitch Murder decided to empty is hard drive and release a compilation full of unreleased and free stand-alone tracks titled Selection 4. These songs feature samples from Jean Francois Freitas’ Another World, Russell Shaw’s Syndicate and Marcin Przybyłowicz’s Witcher 3, along with vocals from Emi of Satellite Young.
Selection 4 is a mixture of unreleased and free tracks that Mitch has recorded over the last year, or so. While this isn’t normally a cause for celebration, the beauty of this compilation is how it feels like a fully formed studio album. And this is Mitch Murder’s power. He effortlessly makes single serving and free standing songs feel like they belong as a whole, and more importantly makes us feel connected to them.
Slaves and machines
in a control zone
Despair and famine
no place called home
torture and humiliation
standard of everyday life
torment and mortification
ruthless quota; Someone’s gotta die
they deprive your dignity
so they can bathe in vanity
your nemesis is a lifelong fight
against disregard for human rights
fugitives will be executed
and their families will be punished
charges will be undisputed
and traitors will be vanished
The control zone, you’re on your own
all hope is lost long ago
Silber Records and Nonconnah skew Christmas and show its darker, eerier side
Zach and Denny Corsa, them from Lost Trail, are back under the guise of Nonconnah. After moving from Tennessee to North Carolina they decided a change was in order. Luckily for us the music isn’t that dissimilar but it’s different enough to warrant a name change.
They’ve just released their debut EP through Silber Records. It’s part of Silber’s Christmas series, but before you start worrying, this isn’t just a load of Wizard, Slade and Wombles covers, its twenty minutes of slow, calculated post-rock. The music goes as fast as glaciers, and is as warm!
Snowplows and Icicle Tracks are the stand out tracks. Snow Plows feels like a Twin Peaks outtake that has been slowed down and manipulated until it ends up sounding all spooky and eerie. While this might not sound like a classic Christmas song, it does play into the Victorian Christmas ghost story vibe. There is something spooky and eerie about Christmas and this is a musical interruption of it. Icicle Tracks is made around a backwards loop that slowly undulates. It’s as trippy as it is chilled. As with Snowplows it’s conjures up dark rooms, candle lit vigils and a general feeling of unease.
Given Lost Trail’s prolific output, Nonconnah seems to be on the right tracks, but only time will tell. Let’s hope that the rumour of a long player in 2017 isn’t just a hoax, like an escaped mental patient dressed as Santa on a rampage. Oh wait…
Kuro have the prefect track as the winter of your discontent kicks in…
OK, so today’s not been great. Actually, who I am to say, maybe today’s been your dream day, and if that’s the case, bravo! If you’re not having a great day, then Bristol’s Kuro might have the answer. Before we go any further let’s explain who Kuro are. They are a duo from Bristol consisting of classical violinist Agathe Max and noise artist Gareth Turner. On paper a classic violinist someone who likes to create abrasive noise soundscapes shouldn’t work, but, like a lot of things, it works perfectly. The school of thought is very similar for both back grounds. Layers and layers of sound and Avant-Grade noise is built up to create something breath taking and harrowing. Listen to John Tavener in the 1990’s and you’ll know what I’m getting at. This duo met at a ZamZam Records night. “At the end of the show we decided to play a jam together, and the improvisation went very well” Max recently said “Gareth and I had already a very similar approach to the sound, textures and layers with our solo projects so it was easy to connect and create a wider range of frequencies playing together. We met a few other times after this first gig and we carried on improvising together whenever we had the chance to. At some point we decided to record something so I moved to Bristol in October 2015 to spend time practicing and composing music together.”
Now they have recorded an album, KURO, and its set for release November 14th. KURO is full of dark chamber music with drone/psych jazz motifs, as you’d expect from a band named after the Japanese word for Black, but there is plenty of beauty and elegance going on too. Arashi, which kicks the album off, is about seven minutes of searing juxtaposition, organic strings vs. stark electronics. Incantation in C is a nine minute walk through paranoia, alienation and suspenseful, fingers down the black board, strings. The remaining four tracks follow suit, but you know, more full on. If you think Mica Levi’s Under the Skin score remixed by Mogwai and you’re on the right tracks.
KURO is released 14th November through Rocket Recordings
Frida Sundemo capitalises from last year’s Heroes and tees-up 2017 with new single
When I first started listening to Frida Sundemo’s new single We Are Dreamers I thought “Here we go. Another slice of Scando-Pop”, but after about thirty seconds these thoughts were replaced by “Wow! This is pretty good…!” At the end of the song my thoughts were “Yes! That was quality. Where is the repeat button…” and that, dear reader, is what my last hour has consisted of. Frida Sundemo’s We Are Dreamers on loop. For an hour.
We Are Dreamers is a follow up to last year’s Heroes, if you saw the film Kill Your Friends you should recognise Sundemo and the song as the film featured both. As with the former it’s a bombastic pop monster, but there is a progression in the song-writing and everything sounds tighter, more euphoric and immediate.
Next year Sundemo will release her debut long player and believe me this is something to get excited about. Pop used to be a dirty word, but thanks to Sundemo and her peers its becoming something far more positive and life affirming thanks to these dreamers!