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Games (Single)

Gundelach (feat. Ary)

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Steadying himself for his upcoming full debut album release, Norwegian artist Gundelach (first name Kai) sets free latest single ‘Games’. By working with fellow artist, songwriter and producer Ary, Gundelach managed to find the rhythm he was looking for after the pair listened to a batch of techno records, in addition to a Juno 60 synth being introduced that led to the bass sound filling the verses of new single ‘Games’. A few hours later and the song was finished in terms of structure and lyrical content. The final decision was made by Gundelach himself, and that was to complete the job at home in his own studio with ‘Games’ ending up a self-produced record, and a first for this Norwegian artist. The final result is an atmospheric and at times minimalist piece of work that incorporates elements of pop music and techno and one that sits rather comfortably under a neon lit LA landscape. In other words, ‘Games’ would’ve been a definite candidate for the soundtrack of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive had it landed a tad sooner. That said, it’s not difficult to comprehend the kind of quality and company Gundelach (featuring Ary) and new single ‘Games’ is residing in.


Released Out now

 

Fine Line (Single)

Jimmy Smash

JimmySmash DA

Jimmy Smash comprising of mid-twenties pairing Håvard Lyngstad and Mikkel Graham Guttormsen from Fredrikstad, Norway, cite some rather interesting and eclectic influences when it comes to producing the sounds rattling around inside their collective creative tank. With references to America’s urban districts mingling with aspects of their own upbringings, not to mention taking inspiration from the likes of Quincy Jones and Bon Iver to name but two of their musical heroes, the Norwegian duo certainly like to add much detail in terms of their own compositions. Take latest single ‘Fine Line’ that is wrapped in a lyrical content that is of the personal and confessional variety yet remains at a distance due to reservations of being misled when hearing the slightly camouflaged messages coming from this song. The musical backdrop of ‘Fine Line’ radiates a shimmering light of pop music mixed with R&B that is every bit as tender as the words spoken. With ‘Fine Line’ being written and produced by Jimmy Smash, and therefore applying a full hands-on approach to this, their second single, based on this evidence it would seem that these Norwegians certainly have a bright future ahead of them.


Released Out now

 

Black Heart Music

Ben Rath

Eilean Records

With his living quarters based in Manchester (UK), Ben Rath constructs his ambient compositions by using original recordings of guitar, keyboards and piano, in addition to samples and field recordings. New album ‘Black Heart Music’ follows on from previous recordings Rath has made via a variety of record labels since 2014, as well as recording under the pseudonym Slow Heart Music in 2017 with the final result being an EP of improvised acoustic guitar tracks. With ‘Black Heart Music’, Rath has constructed an album full of ambient textures that can be coarse in sound one moment to more soothing and airy passages the next. The atmosphere can be quite bleak in places where a swarm of grainy synths exist in one instance, only to pass and give way to the picking of acoustic guitar strings and lighter passages of sounds the next. However, the fog of samples utilised is never far away yet less harsh in its execution where the overcast mood from before is represented in gentler tones as mentioned earlier. ‘Black Heart Music’ is straight out of Manchester where its climate and (urban) landscape have played their roles in shaping the influences heard between the layers of this long player, which certainly makes for compelling listening.


Released Out now

 

Pyro (Single)

Stale Lane

Concorde Music Company

The duo of Tomi Salmi (vocals/guitars) and Sami Vuollekoski (guitars/vocals), otherwise known as Stale Lane, start their journey with their debut single ‘Pyro’. The opening track from Stale Lane arrives ten years after Tomi Salmi and Sami Vuollekoski’s previous band, MALfUNCTION, decided to call time on that particular musical chapter. Therefore, with time on their side to ponder their next move, it wasn’t long before a decision was reached, with the new project up and running and where Salmi and Vuollekoski currently find themselves under the heading of Stale Lane. Such a decision to start afresh immediately pays dividends for the longstanding bandmates as Stale Lane’s ‘Pyro’ proves to be an engaging alternative-rock track that warms its hands immediately via a buzzing guitar intro that opens out into an impressive lead that weaves a pattern between the moody vocals and main rhythm section. Think Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam and with one or two parts borrowed from Nirvana and you’re somewhere close to the sound and vision that ‘Pyro’ aims for, which really is a good place to start, and one that Stale Lane achieves admirably for this first outing.


Released Out now

 

Erasures And Displacements

Bill Seaman

Eilean Records

After a two-year absence, Bill Seaman continues his exploration of “structured improvisations” via his latest album ‘Erasures And Displacements’. By working with a computer and the audible program Ableton Live, Seaman works from his own and/or contributed musical libraries of improvised material, which are then edited via a cut and paste method of sorts and then, once entered, are often erased and built up once more using a “…new set of musical relations” by use of the aforementioned Ableton Live. A web of complexity without doubt in terms of its making, and consisting of a lot more details behind its creative processes than has been described here, ‘Erasures And Displacements’ takes its time and gradually builds its layers without ever over spilling its contents where piano can often be heard and the faint waft of horns (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn for example) interspersed with various snippets of sound samples that never sound fragmented and work cohesively as a whole. A difficult task no doubt, but one that has been painstakingly pieced together by Bill Seaman and worth every step because ‘Erasures And Displacements’ is an enthralling body of work.


Released Out now

 

Planet

Rylos

Secret Entertainment

A four-piece unit from Finland, Rylos return with second album ‘Planet’. The band’s sophomore effort follows the success of debut LP ‘Game Theory’, which recently received its official release in China. With changes in personnel happening where Rylos has seen new recruits drafted in and, in particular, drummer Misca Muhli whose story is all the more remarkable due to being blind since birth, the sheer determination of this band is probably enough in its own right to bring them continued success. However, ‘Planet’ is likely to continue such good fortune as the nine tracks on offer reveal a heavier and more aggressive side to Rylos yet links to their earlier work remain present, which will please any loyal followers. Part of the newer touches heard on ‘Planet’ are down to singer Mikko Heino’s former band Doodah where a decision was made to resurrect two of their compositions – ‘Posthuman Power Station’  and ‘Into The Gutter’. Furthermore, the addition of guitarist Mikko Hämäläinen, who was also a member of Doodah, has helped spice up the song writing by applying his skills to the likes of ‘My Capricious Heart’, a song of near epic proportions, as well as writing new material along with Mikko Heino in preparation for Rylo’s third long player. With much variety between the layers of ‘Planet’ (‘Stories’, ‘Space Love’ et al) and songs hinting at concerns of an environmental nature mixed with a general sense of loss, Rylos has managed to remain on course to bring their new album to light as well as looking to the future with a third album already in the works. ‘Planet’ is the sound of a hardworking band and one that is revelling in its current period of creativity.


Released Out now

 

Hearts On Fire (Single)

KOSAN

Secret Entertainment

Lovingly described as “experienced EDM producers, DJ’s and hermits”, the Finnish partnership of two childhood friends from a remote and rural region of northern Finland, conjure up a sound that is pure 80s pop mixed with heavy use of synths and references to (according to their press bio’) “Italo-disco” or perhaps, more accurately, European electronic music. With this latest release by KOSAN being a double A-side single, it becomes clear why the duo made such a decision considering the strong merits of both tracks. A comparison of the two reveals that ‘Hearts On Fire’ possesses a more up-tempo rhythm made up of bright and shiny synth sounds complete with electronic drums, intermissions of eighties guitar and machinelike vocals. The flipside, ‘Important Nights’, is a slightly more sombre affair that gives the impression of being very reflective with its moodier and late-night tones and, interestingly, for containing a break approximately halfway through that steers this atmospheric electronic piece in what sounds like a change of direction. Very impressive indeed.  A strong, two-track single that bodes well for the rest of KOSAN’s journey via electronic synth pop if they so choose to accept this option.


Released Out now

 

House Of Cards (Single)

Lahayna

Snakehand Records

Having graced the UK Top 40 back in 2007 with their single ‘In The City’ reaching #33, which proved an incredible feat considering the single received no industry support or radio airplay as well as the band remaining unsigned, Lahayna reintroduce themselves in 2017 with a brand new single titled ‘House Of Cards’. One reason for this indie five-piece putting the pieces back together is due to the unfinished business of their debut album remaining unreleased, despite being written and recorded. More significantly, however, the aforementioned single, ‘House Of Cards’ touches on the issue of suicide in young people after songwriter Matt Edun lost a close friend to suicide and therefore a collective decision was made by the band to donate all proceeds from the single to the UK charity PAPYRUS, which serves as a means of prevention and support for all those affected by this issue. By raising awareness to the problem of suicide in young people, ‘House Of Cards’ is also a magnificent piece of work musically, beginning with a gentle guitar intro and the delicate vocals of James ‘J’ Ullman before opening up into a stirring ballad full of melancholy yet beautiful nonetheless as rays of light desperately try their hardest to break through the cracks of sadness expressed throughout. ‘House Of Cards’ is a song to be extremely proud of creatively and, more importantly, for the great service it is providing in its support of such an important charitable organisation. Top marks.


Released 18 August

 

Dancing Killer

Nightstop

Secret Entertainment

We’re clearly in the wrong decade here. New album from 80s stalwart Nightstop with ‘Dancing Killer’, not only revisits the aforementioned decade, but ends up remaining there with an inch perfect recreation of that classic synth sound that provided the backdrop to many films and television series of that period. With Nightstop being classed as a synth/retro wave artist, and one who’s been growing in popularity since 2013, the credits behind this musician include several albums and EPs. Latest album, ‘Dancing Killer’ is the newest addition to that catalogue of music as it continues the retro feel where 80’s synthesizers dominate and create a series of instrumental moods whether blowing a cool icy chill throughout ‘Beast Within’, or more 80s romance than sleaze hinted at by the title ‘Backseat Lover’. The overall feel of the album is one that is obsessed with city nightlife, where you’re likely to find the characters Crockett and Tubbs (Miami Vice) sipping cocktails under the neon glow of a busy nightspot, for example, with the tracks ‘Flesh’ and ‘Ghoul’ the most likely candidates. Weirdly at odds with the current climate of any music scenes right now, but largely part of its appeal, ‘Dancing Killer’ is an album that transports the listener back to a period of music that is genuinely recreated via its 80s instrumental synth sounds.


Released Out now

 

‘Btwn. 1st & A’

Bodega Sisters

Bodega Sisters Music

BODEGA SISTERS is the new outlet for five musicians from a clutch of other groups such as Gorilla Cult, Haschan Luego, Ave. L and Midvinterblot. With these band members coming together to form a super group if you will, their first official release is a single that is made from the components of shoegaze, krautrock, and 80’s synth pop, and has been given the name ‘Btwn. 1st & A’. The song goes about its business by bringing together the aforementioned genres, and ends up transmitting these combined sounds as a continuous loop of guitars and electronics that gathers pace and glistens brightly in contrast to the (intentionally) dour main vocal. With lyrics reading like poetry and ‘Btwn. 1st & A’ forced to apply the brakes nearing its end where guitars give the impression of sparks flying via its feedback, Bodega Sisters provide much to think about with ‘Btwn. 1st & A’, which can only be a good thing.

 


Released Out now

 

Nil and Void (Single)

This Sect

Sect Appeal Records

“Houses have holes to let the air out,” starts lead singer Gøran Karlsvik of Norwegian post-punk band This Sect, deep in the knowledge of the outcome of where his lyrical pen is steering this latest release. A seven-inch pink only vinyl, with the other option a digital download, ‘Nil and Void’ is unlikely to claim any official chart placing such is its cheeriness, but then it wouldn’t be This Sect without a few honest truths sprinkled with cryptic details that will have the Einstein’s among us working overtime until its bitter end. As far as conclusions go, there really is no such thing when it comes to ‘Nil and Void’, more a repeat spin cycle of the vacuous nature of life where human nature passes for empty vessels, accepting their lot and merely passing through time. Thankfully, the driving electronic synth weaving a forceful path through this single, coupled with a watertight tight rhythm section try their hardest to raise the alarm and retaliate against such inertia. Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break. The flipside, ‘Pink in Red’, maintains the high quality levels, offering a calmer intro but one that is shrouded in cold instrumentation until it finds some warmth via a stirring chorus where guitars soar. With their anxieties continuing to take hold and therefore failing to shake that dreaded curse, This Sect continue their struggle against society’s ills by equipping themselves with the tools of their trade, including a raw post-punk sound and a profound use of words. It’s a powerfully effective combination, and one that is deserving of a wider audience.


Released Out now

 

a – > b

Tatsuro Kojima

Eilean Records

Tatsuro Kojima hails from Japan and has previously recorded two albums via Audiobulb Records in 2012 and 2015. Being a self-taught musician, the ambient creations Tatsuro Kojima produces throughout latest album ‘a – > b’ are suited to such a background where the need for freedom and flexibility are definite requirements where sound creations remain free of any constraints that a more structured and formal education may bring. With Kojima’s sounds being described as “closely connected to his visual approaches,” this is certainly true of ‘a – > b’ where there is a feeling of walking through various scenarios recording the everyday by means of observation and practical techniques developed from field recordings and use of synthesizer and electronics over the years (the recordings found here began in 2011). The album ‘a – > b’ makes for compelling listening and really deserves to be heard for those interested in the finer details of life.



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