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Released 2 February

 

Scale Of Blindness

Benjamin Finger

Eilean Records

Limited to 150 copies is the new album from Benjamin Finger ‘Scale Of Blindness’. The album marks a second outing on Eilean Records for the Norwegian composer, electronic music producer, DJ, photographer and film-maker after the critically well received ‘Pleasurably Lost’ in 2015. With eight tracks mapping out the landscape of ‘Scale Of Blindness’, Benjamin Finger wastes no time in terms of decoding the ideas entrenched inside his mind and crafting these into ambient sounds. What transpires is a gritty and grainy beginning, where lights fizz and stutter and illuminate the surroundings for the briefest of periods as life in general gives way to a feeling of rolling continuously in a dark vacuous space, which is the impression given by openers ‘Halogen Flux’ and ‘Anxiety Blues’. With mere snippets of samples and sounds used, which are then looped into greater reels of sounds, the effects utilised work tremendously during ‘If Memory Preserves’, which offers a brooding tone full of electronic keys humming and tinkling intensely as well as drifting into mere wisps of noise adding to the mystery of the monologue taking place of what sounds like an inquest of one particular tragic incident in the US. The fascination continues with ‘Vagabond Void’ as it emerges into the light, electronics blinking, before breaking and splintering and seeing its particles drift into, and along the fragmented signals emanating from ‘Fragrant Darkness’. It would appear that Benjamin Finger has worked tirelessly to create a wonderful and truly captivating experience that illustrates feelings of loneliness and isolation encompassed by latest album ‘Scale Of Blindness’ that so often throws up shining beacons of light in the bleakest of spaces (‘Vanishing Faces’, ‘Falling Asleep’), to more abrasive creations (‘Fragrant Darkness’) that sound cut adrift and completely lost in the dark void suggested. It’s a masterwork, and it’s called ‘Scale Of Blindness’.


Released Out now

 

Doubt Mines EP

Terrible Love

Big Scary Monsters

There seems no cure for the emotions expressed here. Cracked love, open wounds and downright despair is what you’re likely to get when it comes to the latest release from post-hardcore outfit Terrible Love. The gap experienced from 2015’s ‘Change Nothing’ EP and latest release, ‘Doubt Mines’, was down to reasons concerning shifts in personnel, a period of writer’s block, to everyday concerns of working overtime due to busy schedules, but thankfully the five-piece band from London managed to overcome all such obstacles in order to deliver this rather fine release. The delay in terms of reaching this stage was clearly worth it once ‘Doubt Mines’ unravels its contents and displays subtle differences that reveal genuine signs of development from what was a magnificent effort in ‘Change Nothing’. The differences lie in the splashes of melody that can be heard throughout opener ‘First Flowers’, and the generally more considered approach of ‘Separate Graves’ that really take this band to another level without losing any of the previous tension and angst which has so far shaped their career. Add to that vocals that are stripped bare and raw and full of honest confessions, then Terrible Love remain a rare breed of band who are vital in these troubled times.


Released 2 February

 

Baksida På Operaen (Single)

Stian Fjelldal

Didelidoo

Norwegian artist Stian Fjelldal enters the New Year with the release of ‘Baksida På Operaen’, which is the third single to be taken from his album ‘Idioten’. With very little info on the desk regarding Fjelldal and his musical content, only lengthens the mystery and one worth pursuing in the course of finding more answers. Unfortunately, the quest for answers continues to remain a mystery, in addition to any queries relating to the rear entrance of the opera house remaining equally mysterious, only to say that the ode penned to this particular landmark in the centre of Norway’s capital suggests an unbridled talent, and one skilfully plying his trade via a mixture of hushed vocals that verge on spoken word whilst mild electronica swirls all around. It makes for compelling listening, especially given the added teaspoonful of eccentricity that brings to mind Scotland’s Mull Historical Society. No matter the shortage of answers because the only answer you’ll get once hearing ‘Baksida På Operaen’ is to buy this magnificent single in droves!


Released Out now

 

When A Kiss Becomes A Habit (Single)

Thea & The Wild

Propeller Recordings

Channelling an 80s vibe with latest single ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’ is Norwegian Thea & The Wild. With the single serving as a precursor to the soon-to-be-released LP ‘Ikaros’, Thea & The Wild builds a song that is filled with deep layers including use of strings, electronics and driving percussion and lyrics purporting to the problems experienced by long-term relationships. When reflecting upon latest single ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’, Thea & The Wild (aka Glenton Raknes) had this to say: “‘’When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’ was written at the beginning of a relationship – I was too caught up in my own head to be present, and instead was just worrying that it might all go away. It’s about that point when a relationship just flows and there’s no romance or excitement anymore.” There’s certainly enough excitement to contend with when it comes to the detailed layers of experimental pop that is ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’, and one that bodes well for the imminent release of second album ‘Ikaros’ on Propeller Recordings.


Released Out now

 

Ljerke

Ljerke

Eilean Records

With this being a joint release on two fronts, ‘Ljerke’ is the latest album from Eilean Records. Firstly, the ensemble that is Ljerke consists of various musicians from the Netherlands (Romke Kleefstra, Jan Kleefstra, Sytze Pruiksma) and Norway (Alexander Rishaug, Hilde Marie Holsen, Michael Duch), in addition to video artists Marco Douma (NL) and Haraldur Karlsson (Iceland). Secondly, ‘Ljerke’ is released as a double edition consisting of CD and DVD. In order to capture the live feel of this project, ‘Ljerke’ took its inspiration from the Frisian landscape and therefore evolved into a live improvisation including music, poetry and film in the same context of former projects such as Seeljocht (Piiptsjilling) and Skeylja (The Alvaret Ensemble). Considering this is a debut album from the collection that is Ljerke, and therefore setting forth the difficult task of combining many competing ideas to compile one final result, the end results hint at no such complications. What the listener gets is the bear spine of sounds that filter in and out of earshot during the opening  ‘Muurv’, and then proceeds along a fuller set of notes during ‘Tsjilland’ with a compelling use of trumpet, before plummeting some way into a cavern of darkness that is ‘Waarbekkasin’, which doesn’t make for easy listening. By combining numerous ideas from the high number of personnel that is Ljerke, the album of the same name is faultless in its overall execution, yet it’s the very sounds captured and created that leaves one trawling through a range of emotions and therefore sets up ‘Ljerke’ as an album that is far from easy consumption.

 


Released Out now

 

Wolf (Single)

DYLYN

HOME Music Co.

Ahead of her debut EP release scheduled for next month, Canadian artist DYLYN has issued the single ‘Wolf’ that is an honest confession of the ups and downs that relationships can bring. More specifically, the new single is a direct reflection of the feelings DYLYN is currently undergoing “post-breakup” in relation to the male species. Tough love? You bet. With a genuine 80s feel coursing through the centre of this new record via moody sounding synths, ‘Wolf’ is not without current reference points regarding its overall sound as it melds the “old with the new” where a strong backbeat of punk garage-styled drums and, more specifically, impressive vocals cross the border and back again that is one moment 80’s pop starlet, and the next a far darker proposition more suited to indie spokesperson. It’s an engaging single and one that adds to the anticipation already felt regarding DYLYN’s forthcoming EP.


Released Out now

 

International Blue (Single)

Manic Street Preachers

Columbia

Sounding optimistic in 2018 is Manic Street Preachers and their current single ‘International Blue’. The new single is the first offering to be lifted from the forthcoming album ‘Resistance Is Futile’, which is the thirteenth long player from the Welsh band. With bassist and spokesperson for the Manics, Nicky Wire declaring the new single as possessing similar traits to one of the band’s earlier songs, “The track itself is carried by the kind of naive energy that powered ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’,” before continuing to add, “I’d been digesting the lyric [‘International Blue’] for five years, since being in Nice and finally joining the dots between Yves Klein’s International Klein Blue and the vast open blue of the Mediterranean Sea. It was a moment of connection that felt perfectly natural – not forced or intellectualised. A different kind of enrichment that feels increasingly difficult to find.” While there is truth in the comparisons with Manic Street Preachers circa ‘Generation Terrorists’ and their latest single, the fascination with European influences continues via ‘International Blue’ in sound and visuals, but there is more than a strong hint to the gloss that was applied to numerous songs during their sophomore effort ‘Gold Against The Soul’. With no doubts regarding the infectiousness of the rhythm throughout ‘International Blue’ that points to the optimism felt, there (as always) remains a sense of pessimism as well as realism when it comes to any new Manic Street Preachers release where ‘International Blue’ should not be taken at face value. Everything in its right place then, the new album should be something worth waiting for.


Released Out now

 

Thee DB3

Thee DB3

Drum Monkey Records

A newly formed trio Thee DB3 release their debut album of the same name with the promise of “top fuelled garage rock and slick surf sounds” via the creative hands of three gentleman drivers. With their journey beginning from Portsmouth’s coastline Thee DB3 is hell-bent on kicking up a racket, which starts with album opener and appropriately titled ‘Devil’s Driver’ that does its best to outsmart and outmuscle its (race car) opponents to the tune of a dirty and beat-up guitar sound. The notion of three drivers with the upmost etiquette is soon redundant once ‘Dragstrip’ roars into view, and then continues its mission on a buzzing guitar trail, abrasive vocals and pounding drums that make its claim for the number one spot in quite aggressive fashion. In fact, there’s no room to breathe during this opening bow of tracks with the grit and grime continuing to fly upwards from the tracks, foot placed firmly on the accelerator, as Thee DB3 maintain the excitement and ratchet up the tension by way of the magnificent instrumental ‘The Swan’, before running the guitars close to burnout with the double delight of ‘Might Be Dead’ and ‘Volcano’. The intriguing title of ‘The Men From Building 7’ throws up another instrumental that is all about the surf side of guitar rock and is over before you know it. There is a whiff of potential single alert and chart entry, if there is still such a thing, with the pop influenced ‘You Will Be Mine’ that certainly has a habit of remaining lodged in the senses largely due to its addictive chorus. It’s a strong candidate for song of the album, largely due to its different approach, and one that will end up on repeat play without doubt. With ‘Thee DB3’ clocking in at fourteen tracks, it’s not unfair to suggest that a slight trimming of such a lengthy playlist might have been a wise manoeuvre considering that familiarity starts to rear its head (i.e. ‘Shot Through The Heart’ and ‘Red Light Fever’). That said, a difficult decision for Thee DB3, especially when ripping up a storm that is probably as close to performing live as one can get (‘Motorbike & Sidecar’) that suggests this garage-rock trio are passionate about their craft and certainly not going to give it up too easily. And why would you when the majority of this debut album’s contents are as thrilling and riding on the edge of its very own seat. A confident beginning and one that packs a real punch, Thee DB3 are a talented unit with a debut album that is firing on all cylinders.

(Thee DB3 album is available to listen to and buy at the following link: https://theedb3.bandcamp.com/)


Released Out now

 

Midnight Blue (Single)

The Crowleys

Bandcamp

Canadian indie psychedelic outfit The Crowleys return to the fold with a new single, and follow up to the sublime ‘L.A. Sunset’ released a only few months ago. The latest recording sees The Crowleys take their sound and vision into the night air largely due to a severe bout of insomnia as ‘Midnight Blue’ is referred to by the band as “where your mind takes you on a sleepless night” and therefore where they currently find themselves. There is no suggestion of lethargy here, despite the lack of rest as the tone of the new single is rather upbeat where a surf guitar sound maintains freshness throughout and one that shines brightly with the other thousands of stars held by the night sky. The specialist skills of a cryptographer are required however, when attempting to decode the song’s lyrics (It’s always a good idea to make the listener work for their listening pleasure) as The Crowleys make use of a vocoder to give voice to the robotic figure central to the band’s music video that accompanies the single ‘Midnight Blue’, which imaginatively captures the notion that there is lot more going on behind the exterior of anyone’s facial expression. If anxiety and loneliness are the key emotions being subtly suggested here, then The Crowleys apply the same approach to their latest release by expertly handling such feelings behind an engaging and upbeat tempo that is ‘Midnight Blue’.


Released Out now

 

Hiding Places (Single)

Rain On Monday

ROM Music

Following on from the debut single ‘Kill My Love’, Swedish artist Rain On Monday (Raimond Nurmilampi) replies with a second single under the heading ‘Hiding Places’. By combining an extremely thin layer of 80’s pop sheen with darker shades more associated with the bleak winters of his hometown of Kiruna, a small mining town situated in Sweden and one that lies above the Arctic Circle, Rain On Monday manages to balance the different shades of emotions expertly via combined instrumentation of acoustic guitar and synthesizers. With latest single ‘Hiding Places’ produced by Thomas Harsem (Still Parade, Intergalactic Lovers, Neele Ternes et al), the pop rhythm that propels this song is definitely the chipper side of this latest single, with Rain On Monday’s gruff tones bemoaning what sounds like the demise of a relationship with suggestion of unrequited love from one side of the equation responsible for its downward slide. In spite of the sadness of the words expressed, there is suggestion of an imminent rainbow on the horizon where the current misfortune will be transformed into something positive because ‘Hiding Places’ may be the sound of rainfall yet the sun is also shining.


Released Out now

 

For Those About To Love

Benjamin Finger

Flaming Pines

Hats off to (probably) the hardest working artist, DJ and producer on the planet, Benjamin Finger, who pops his creative head above the parapet with his umpteenth album that must be close to rivalling the high output set, and still ongoing, by American experimentalists, The Residents. The latest addition to the Norwegian’s catalogue of ambient mood pieces is ‘For Those About To Love’, which focuses on that very subject of its title but, more noticeably, the emotions leading to the very potential of this subject. With hints given in the song titles from ‘Lipstick Shades 1’ to ‘Eyeball Humidity’ where preparation can be everything but also not quite the outcome one hopes for when expectations falter considerably, the approach Benjamin Finger assumes in relation to his latest album is certainly all about preparation. With a real piano, as opposed to the electronic kind, wheeled out once more after working so well during previous album ‘Ghost Figures’, ‘For Those About To Love’ begins its journey from a near empty barroom waking up from the night before, and then proceeds to take its next steps out in the open and blinking in the sunlight, until becoming lost in a fog of scratched electronica and wispy vocals, such is the uncertainty expressed via  ‘Lipstick Shades 1’. The mood reverts to a darker tone (similar to previous long player ‘Motion Reverse’) during ‘Midnight Wolves’ with its futuristic sounding beats giving the impression of scanning for any sign of life or potential threat depending on your own interpretation. Taking a different turn, however, is the brighter sounding ‘Ultraviolet Light’ with its stronger use of vocal sounds, which is repeated during the excellent ‘Transparent Mind’ that exposes a whole array of thoughts continuously spinning on a carousel of sounds.  Always a difficult prospect to define in its entirety, due to the shifting shades of colour when it comes to emotions expressed by the electronic instrumentation used throughout here, not to mention the new surprises and experiences found with each and every listen, but it is the manner in which Benjamin Finger balances these various shades of colour by instrumentation (in particular the gorgeous ‘Melanphony Waltz’ complete with acoustic guitar) that sets up ‘For Those About To Love’ as one of his most complete works to date.


Released Out now

 

Games (Single)

Gundelach (feat. Ary)

U OK?

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.



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