michael hayden – guitar
mario quintero – guitar / vocals
kristy hayden – keyboard / vocals
sarah quintero – bass / vocals
anthony (pork chop) dixon – drums
released 13 November 2012
produced by mario quintero / aaron harris / michael hayden
engineered by mario quintero at black box studios / san diego
mixed by aaron harris at vista sound / los angeles
mastered by james plotkin
album art by kristy hayden
photography by michael klayman / san diego
“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’
So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, 1865
With the release of ‘So Long Lonely Ghost,’ San Diego’s Sleep Lady takes us on a wondrous adventure down the rabbit hole, delivering eight magically delicious tracks that are heavy and dense one minute, delicate and quiet the next. At its core, this is a heavy rock record that sounds best when spewing from your speakers at blazing volume. Your first taste of its strength comes at the 2 minute 40 second mark of the opening song ‘Billions and Billions’ when the drums kick in and confidently anchor the thickly-layered guitars and electronics. I really love how deep and rich this song sounds – it’s obvious that the band spent a lot of time working to get the perfect balance from the recording (expertly engineered by Sleep Lady guitarist, Mario Quintero, at AudioMQ).
‘There Are No Happy Accidents’ begins with a reach back to the rural psychedelia of the early Amp records, hazy and mellow. But then a music-box transition soon leads the song into a trudging Sleep Lady sonic assault, setting the stage for the nine minute epic, ‘Drugged by the Sun.’ I’m not sure why (maybe it’s because I’m writing this while in-flight, jet-lagged and exhausted, having just finished reading Clive Barker’s short novel ‘The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus’ before this current roadtrip), but this song reminds me of the circus that would pull in to town late at night in the summer of our youth, and set up in the parking lot of the local fire department. Of course, the site of this spectacle excites the children, but the grown-ups look at the rickety construction with reserved concern. Ride at your own risk; the smart folks stick with the games and the fun house. The quiet moments of ‘Drugged’ still have an underlying edge and sweet creepiness, and the heaviness cuts through you like the metallic squeals of the racing coaster.
‘Weak Chin’ is the record’s meat grinder – slow motion sawing guitars over layered electronics and a churning rhythm. A dark, psychedelic, sludge-metal theme to a 70′s biker/slasher film. I really enjoy this song.
And then we get ‘Someone’s Gotta Win’ – a homage to the great indie-rock roadtrip songs of the mid-90s. I hear the best of Sonic Youth, Lilies, Stereolab, Underground Lovers, Kinski, Tsunami – summer songs, perfect for afternoons spent throwing the Frisbee, drinking beer, record shopping, and hanging out with friends. This one is definitely different than the first four songs on the record, but that’s one of the things I like most about Sleep Lady – they’re not afraid to keep the listener engaged with dramatic changes in style. Always interesting, and always something new to discover in each song.
I can’t really say that I have a favorite track on the record. Each song is so uniquely different that one day I prefer the heaviness of ‘Weak Chin,’ and the next day, I’m dancing around the room with my daughters while ‘Someone’s Gotta Win’ is cranking. But there’s something about ‘I Wanted To Be A Penguin Forever’ that really hits home for me. Maybe it’s the fact that the song perfectly blends post-rock, Bristol UK psych/space/rock, and 90s shoegaze – the three styles that have consumed me for the last 20+ years. Everything works on this track – dreamy vocals, heavy swirling guitars, and wonderfully melodic keyboards. The essence of the Sleep Lady sound.
As a prelude to the final song on the record, the band treats us to a fantastic acoustic composition that is clean, light, and so nice. ‘Night Moves’ gives the listener a chance to take a break from the complexity and heaviness of the other tracks. Looping and layered acoustics are the highlight here – a lovely melody that allows the guitar work to shine.
The final track, ‘These Fucking Worms,’ is a beast. Anchored by the now-familiar Sleep Lady rhythms, the guitars chime and weave, and slowly build to a churning climax. It’s heavy and tight, right up to the end, taking you to the cliff’s edge and leaving you there to catch your breath.
I’ve enjoyed Sleep Lady’s music since first hearing 2010′s ‘Fighting For The Year’. Their sound is unique and always interesting – intelligent music that will appeal to listeners who have an appreciation for the music that seeded this scene, and who are looking for a perfectly dynamic post-rock record that sounds great both on quiet nights and rowdy days. This one is definitely high on my 2012 favorite releases list.
” ‘Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!’ said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, ‘It was a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it’s getting late.’ So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.”
Bleaklow – The Sunless Country
The guys from Bleaklow did this one right – they knew that the final mix was going to be 20+ minutes long, so they leaked teasers, a few minutes at a time, over a period of weeks leading up to the release date, wetting our appetites for the final product. And the wait was definitely worth it – the full version clocks in at a massive 23 minutes and 58 seconds and is truly an epic rock beast. It’s textbook Bleaklow – relentless, pummeling, and absolutely perfect. If you’re already a fan of the band’s music, you’ll be pleased with this EP (especially if you managed to get one of the 25 hand-stitched CDs). If you’re not familiar with Bleaklow, here’s what I think…
I really enjoy being consumed by the books that I’m reading, and I often try to find music that “fits” with the intensity of the story (for 6forty playlists, of course). Lately, I’ve been enjoying The Arthur Series by Bernard Cornwell. In the books, the combined forces of the British kingdoms repeatedly face the invading Saxons in a battle formation know as the shield wall. A shield wall was a “wall of shields” formed by soldiers standing in formation shoulder to shoulder, holding their shields so that they overlap. Each man benefits from the protection of his neighbor’s shield, usually the man to his right, as well as his own. The soldiers in front have small swords for thrusting (no room for swinging large weapons), while the ranks behind use spears to reach the enemy. It’s brutal, slow, close combat. Described here by Derfel Cadarn (the main character) in book three, ‘Excalibur,’ during the battle of Mynydd Baddon:
“Aelle’s forces had pulled back a half-mile from Aquae Sulis before forming their line and now they waited for Arthur’s attack. Tewdric’s men marched under the Christian God, and at last, after straightening their shield wall, they closed on the enemy. I expected to see a conference between the lines as the leaders of the armies exchanged their ritual insults and while the two shield walls judged each other. I have known shield walls to stare at each other for hours while men summoned the courage to charge, but those Christians of Gwent did not check their pace. There were no meeting of opposite leaders and no time for the Saxon wizards to cast their spells, for the Christians simply lowered their spears, hefted their oblong shields that were painted with the cross, and marched straight through the roman graves and into the enemy’s shields. We heard the shields clash on the hill. It was a dull grinding sound, like thunder from under the earth, and it was the sound of hundreds of shields and spears striking as two great armies smashed head to head. The men of Gwent were stopped, held by the weight of the Saxons who heaved against them, and I knew men were dying down there. They were being speared, being chopped by axes, being trampled underfoot. Men were spitting and snarling over their shield rims, and the press of men would be so great that a sword could hardly be lifted in the crush.” (Excalibur, Bernard Cornwell, copyright 1997)
This EP is like a shield wall, solid, heavy guitar riffs on top of a trudging/driving rhythm section. It’s an excellent match for Pendragon legends – the kingdoms loyal to Arthur (500 AD) were fighting to rid England of the Saxon advance and life was a constant struggle. Bleaklow provides the perfect soundtrack to this desperate and dark story. No post- labels necessary for this record. ‘The Sunless Country’ is simply 24 minutes of perfect rock music. Or to describe it using Cornwell’s words, it’s “thunder from under the earth.”
The band has generously offered The Sunless Country as a ‘name your price’ download via their Bandcamp page. And definitely be sure to check out their other releases – all are great.
My goal with 6forty is simple – introduce people to music that they may not know; to pull them away from the mainstream and into the world of the independents. Because, in my opinion, it’s here that the music is most interesting, and definitely the most enjoyable. And if you’re visiting 6forty, then the odds are good that you’re already a fan, or you are open enough to join our team. To that end, Waking Aida has released two EPs that are making my job really easy.
Kamiokande and Hachiko are outstanding records. The songs are blissfully melodic, super tight, and always dynamic – instrumental rock at its finest. I’m going to avoid categorizing their sound since I don’t consider their music to be post, or emo, or math, or any of the other titles that folks are throwing around these days. It’s simply excellent rock music. Kamiokande kicks of brilliantly with ‘Underwater Level,’ a meandering fusion of guitars, bass, drums, and keys that has become my go-to summer song – easy-driving rock that reminds me of (old days) Kitchens of Distinction and the Swirlies (minus the vocals, of course). The pace slows down with ‘Sundances,’ 7+ minutes of interesting tempo changes, looping spoken word samples, and smooth guitars on top of a relaxed beat. The EP ends with the mighty ‘Stanley Ipkiss.’ It’s much heavier than the first two tracks on the record, starting off with quiet electronics, but quickly crescendos with agressive guitars, bass, and a pounding rhythm section that pushes the song, and the EP, to an abrupt, yet solid end. I love it!
The first thing you notice about the Hachiko EP is the outstanding cover art, done by Asphensia. The imagery is a perfect match to the music – bold, and brightly colored. ‘Meanwhile…at Lounge Doom’ and ‘That’s not my trick, Michael’ – the first two tracks on Hachiko – are textbook Waking Aida. Chiming guitars, rock-solid drums and bass, and more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. We get a 50 second rest with the calm of ‘Viewfinder,’ and then the EP winds up with two absolute bangers, ’7:45′ and ‘Nothing in Me Disturbs A Thing.’ I find it difficult to describe these songs to someone who hasn’t heard the band – the arrangements are fun and full of hooks, and at the same time, they’re still full-on rock songs that sound best when played extra loud. I’ve been following independent music for a long time, and when I listen to Waking Aida, I’m reminded of many great bands (ex. Tsunami, Swirlies, Lorelei, Lilys) and labels (ex. Slumberland, Taang, Simple Machines) who pioneered this unique style of rock (yes, most of those bands had vocals, but it’s the music that I’m referring to). And I’m even more pleased to see so many great new bands, including Waking Aida, who are taking this genre of music to a fantastic new level. I won’t bother listing the other bands, all you need to do is listen to any of the recent 6forty collections and you’ll get an earful of some of the best music being released at the moment. Kamiokande and Hachiko are two excellent EPs that have definitely found themselves on my best of the year list. I can’t wait to hear more. Click on the links below, turn up the volume, and enjoy the ride!
What The Blood Revealed . Harbour Of Devils
Field Records, 2012
The drums were pounding out a battle beat as the Iron Victory swept forward, her ram cutting through the choppy green waters. The smaller ship ahead was turning, oars slapping at the sea. Roses streamed upon her banners; fore and aft a white rose upon a red escutcheon, atop her mast a golden one on a field as green as grass. The Iron Victory raked her side so hard that half the boarding party lost their feet. Oars snapped and splintered, sweet music to the captain’s ears.
He vaulted over the gunwale, landing on the deck below with his golden cloak billowing behind him. The white roses drew back, as men always did at the site of Victorion Greyjoy armed and armored, his face hidden behind his kraken helm. They were clutching swords and spears and axes, but nine of every ten wore no armor, and the tenth had only a shirt of sewn scales. These are no ironmen, Victorion thought. They still fear drowning…
…The Drowned God had not shaped Victorion Greyjoy to fight with words at kingsmoots, nor struggle against furtive sneaking foes in endless bogs. This was why he had been put on earth; to stand steel-clad with axe red and dripping in his hand, dealing death with every blow. They hacked at him from front and back, but their swords might have been willow switches for all the harm they did him. No blade could cut through Victorion Greyjoy’s heavy plate, nor did he give his foes the time to find the weak points at the joints, where only mail and leather warded him. Let three men assail him, or four, or five; it made no matter. He slew them one at a time, trusting his steel to protect him from the others. As each foe fell he turned his wroth upon the next.
By then the deck was slick beneath his feet, and the dead and dying lay in heaps on every side. He threw his shield away and sucked in air. “Lord Captain,” he heard the Barber say beside him, “the day is ours.” **
If you’re a regular 6forty visitor, you already know that I enjoy connecting the site’s content with books that I’m reading. So when I was given the opportunity to write a review of the latest release from Scotland’s What The Blood Revealed, I quickly agreed. Their EPs are on regular rotation here at camp 6forty, and I was confident that ‘Harbour of Devils’ wasn’t going to disappoint. I also had the perfect literary reference in mind, one that I’ve associated with their music since I first heard the early releases (EP1 – December 2010 / EP2 – January 2011), and their massive track on the ‘A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youngsters – Issue 1′ (November 2010) compilation. The fierce confidence and power of What the Blood Revealed’s music consistently reminds me of House Greyjoy, one of the seven great houses of Westeros, featured in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The above quote is just one of many scenes that graphically illustrates the strength and determination of the Greyjoy’s fleet commander (and mightiest son), Victorion, as he easily overwhelms his enemies at sea. He endures the days of extended calm as his ships hunt for prey, and then unleashes his full fury on anyone who mistakenly ends up in his path. What the Blood Revealed’s latest release ‘Harbour of Devils’ (Field Records) delivers this same intensity – seven slabs of heavy instrumental rock that ebb with moments of restraint, and then hit strong and hard, much like Victorion’s Ironmen.
The record kicks off with the grinding guitars and trudging rhythms of ‘Embrace The Rational And Seek The Truthful’ and ‘To Travel Deadly Ground.’ These two beasts are restless and explosive. I enjoy how the band utilizes the quiet moments to give more power and emphasis to the heaviness throughout the songs. Most of the tracks follow this same format – a dynamic that definitely gives the record an added richness and depth. ‘Waiting For The Storm’ is up next and churns like rolling dark clouds over the ocean – it’s melodic, yet brooding, and slowly grows in intensity as the song nears its end. But just when it reaches its peak, it transitions immediately into ‘The Streets Ran Red With The Blood Of The Pious’ – 9 minutes of epic instrumental rock. When I listen to this track, I enjoy adding the visual of Victorion Greyjoy leaping on to the deck of his enemy’s ship, ax in hand and kraken helm blazing in the afternoon sun. Next up is ‘Eyes To The Horizon’ – once again, relaxed and calm rock music to start, but slightly different than the others since its build is slower and much more melodic, with the last few minutes highlighted by a very lyrical lead guitar, weaving its tale cleanly on top of the solid rhythms.
And then there were two… I first heard ‘The Corporation As We Know It Is Dead, Dead, Dead’ on the ‘Cheery Wave’ compilation, and 7 minutes 30 seconds later, I was completely consumed by the power of What The Blood Revealed. Grinding, ominous, and unsettling – a post-metal anthem for our struggling world. Closing out the record is one of my favorite tracks from What The Blood Revealed – ‘Cast Adrift In A Harbour Of Devils.’ This massive beast is so perfectly heavy – it’s best when played at full volume so the low end rumbles through your body like a freight train. This would definitely be Victorion Greyjoy’s anthem – powerful, complex, and intensely driven.
What The Blood Revealed’s ‘Harbour of Devils’ is an outstanding rock record, and definitely one of my favorite releases of the year. The only thing that would make this listening experience better for me would be if I were in a pub enjoying a fine cask-drawn ale, while the band cranks through these beauties on stage. Spring tour with Alright The Captain? Sounds good to me. Now if only someone would invent the damn transporter…
** George R.R. Martin, ‘A Feast For Crows’ copyright 2005.
Andy Othling (Lowercase Noises) has been busy. Late 2010 saw the release of his full-length gem, Carry Us All Away; he has contributed songs to several outstanding compilations (Singularity1, Hope For Japan, Hawk Moon Records Volume II); and now we get his latest EP, Migratory Patterns, which, according to the notes accompanying the release, “is about a lonely whale, and is inspired by this story http://bit.ly/52hertz.”
You should definitely read the blog post about the whale – the story is somber and lonely, and the calm of the songs on this EP give an additional dimension to this mysterious animal. ‘Migratory Patterns’ is a classic Lowercase Noises release – melodic, modern guitar soundscapes and hushed electronics, perfectly accompanied by strings and other acoustics. There’s a wonderful richness and depth to these songs, and as you listen, it’s easy to picture this mysterious whale wondering the ocean. I know that Andy isn’t fond of the word ambient as a description for his music, although for those of you who aren’t familiar with Lowercase Noises, but are fans of ambient/electronic/acoustic artists such as Harold Budd, Michael Brook, A Produce, and Robin Guthrie, you’ll definitely enjoy this record, as well as the other LCN releases.
When listening to ‘Migratory Patterns’ (which I do quite often these days), I hear a confident musician whose talent and experience is evident throughout the five songs on this release. “Song for No One” starts the EP quietly with hushed and smooth waves of sound; “Persistence” is a more traditional Lowercase Noises song with a relaxed beat, keyboards, strings, and guitar; “Depths” is melodic and quiet – a composition that features a wonderful strings arrangement, bringing to mind the work of Martin McCarrick, and the instrumental tracks on This Mortal Coil’s classic ‘Filigree and Shadow;’ and closing the record are two outstanding selections, “Migratory Patterns” and “Farewell,” that will surprise you with the addition of mellow vocals and banjo – a very interesting and wonderful layer to the final songs on the EP. Andy has truly mastered the art of Lowercase Noises. His enthusiasm and passion about his music is what makes it so perfect for the listener.
‘Migratory Patterns’ is an outstanding Lowercase Noises release. It’s mellow, melodic and as smooth as a calm ocean. Has Andy captured the essence of this wondering whale? That’s for you to decide – you can listen to it in its entirety via his Bandcamp page (along with his other releases), and since it’s so reasonably priced, you should buy a copy for your music collection. I need no convincing – I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I look forward to enjoying the music of Lowercase Noises for a long time to come…
As an extra treat, my daughters (Eliza is 5.5 and Abby is 9) listened to the songs while I was writing this review and did their own artwork to go along with the story and the music (link below).
Years of Rice and Salt :: Nothing of Cities (2011)
Plymouth is dreary and raw today. It’s not raining, but the gray clouds are threatening, so I’m settled into a comfortable couch at the pub with a fine cask-drawn ale and queue ‘Nothing of Cities’ on my iPod. Soon after it begins playing, I realize that I’ve been completely consumed by this record ever since I received it. It has been on repeat play for days…
There’s so much energy and passion in each song – lush melodies, epic compositions, and the seamless integration of strings, wonderfully combine into one of the finest releases of the year. I’m reminded of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Industries of the Blind, Do Make Say Think, Our Last Hope Lost Hope, Stubborn Tiny Lights vs Clustering Darkness Forever OK?, and others who have mastered this unique style of cinematic post-rock. I’ve been patiently waiting for this record ever since first hearing their 2009 release ‘Service Bell’ (also an outstanding record that you can hear here Service Bell) – the wait was definitely worth it. The songs are intensely focused and perfectly executed. It’s obvious that the band wasn’t going to rush this release. There’s such a completeness about this record. It leaves you feeling the same way you do after finishing your favorite novel or watching your favorite classic film – utterly satisfied.
I’ve decided not to include descriptions of each song in this review. In my opinion, ‘Nothing of Cities’ is perfect, so there is no need to go into detail about the songs – the record is really that good. If you are already a fan of the collections on 6forty, then you know the music that I enjoy, and you should trust me when I say that you need to own ‘Nothing of Cities.’ You definitely won’t be disappointed. For me, the only thing that could top this listening experience would be to have the opportunity to see Years of Rice and Salt perform these amazing songs in a live setting. Maybe someday…
Mender :: Body of Gossamer
released 2011 (Mender/Deadpop records)
Body of Gossamer was performed, arranged, recorded and produced by Ash West-Mullen at his home in Nottingham. Ash is an electronic artist and drummer of Alright The Captain
There’s a wonderfully diverse selection of electronic music available at the moment, and although much of it is quite good, I find myself listening most to the records that are mellow and introspective. Regular rotation includes older projects from Edward KaSpel, Pan American, Seefeel, Nurse With Wound, and Famous Boyfriend, along with the outstanding new music being released by labels such as Heat Death Records and Hawk Moon Records. One of the newest releases that has been streaming a lot lately in the office is Ash West-Mullen’s project, Mender.
Mender’s latest EP, Body of Gossamer, definitely can be categorized as electronic, but what makes it stand apart from many other releases is the way that Ash has embraced and integrated a variety of acoustic elements into the mix. This combination gives the record the same pastoral quality that you’ll find from bands such as Hood, Declining Winter, Woo, and Ithaca Trio. You’ll hear a steady down-tempo beat throughout, providing a solid base to layer the acoustics, along with an interesting variety of electronics. There’s no rushed feeling with any of these tracks – the EP is perfect for a quiet night’s relaxed groove, or as a soundtrack for your mellow adventures. I was recently in England on business and found myself really enjoying ‘Body of Gossamer’ while we were driving through the southwest countryside, exploring the tors of Dartmoor. ‘Apsis’ and ‘Heal This Cathode’ open the EP and both meander softly with keyboards and guitar, ‘Worried About My Heart’ envelops you with reflective electro-acoustic soundscapes, ‘Lounge Cat’ and ‘Minimal Bitch’ deliver sublime funk, and the EP closer ‘Dead Waves’ finishes with hushed vocals and a bit more effected edging on the guitars and keyboards. Overall, a solid collection of songs that make for a very enjoyable listen.
Body of Gossamer is a perfect choice when you are in the mood for confident, intelligent music. The songs are balanced, and very well developed. I definitely recommend giving the record a listen if you’re a fan of any of the bands listed in this review. Mender has delivered a really good new release – I’m definitely looking forward to more. Also, not to be missed is the artwork and layout by Carrie Hodson Walker. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the songs on the record.
You can listen to the record here > http://mender.bandcamp.com/album/body-of-gossamer, and once you get to the end of song 6, I think you’ll agree that it’s a release that needs to live in your music collection.
Good Weather For An Airstrike :: A Winter
Released through Rural Colours (January 14 2011)
Good Weather For An Airstrike :: Jigsaws
Self-released by GWFAA’s Tom Honey (March 1 2011)
I’m writing this review while on a plane bound for Seattle, listening to GWFAA’s ‘Jigsaws’ on extended repeat. This is a 6hour fight, so I finally have a block of uninterrupted time to listen to both records without the distractions of work, the cell phone, or email. Hopefully the battery on my laptop will hang in there long enough to allow me to play through the records a few times while I type…
My first exposure to the music of Tom Honey/Good Weather For an Airstrike was with his September 2009 release, ‘As We’re Both Just Standing Still.’ At the time, I was dealing with several major project deadlines, and found that Tom’s music helped me maintain my focus during this intense period of work. The songs are soothing, quietly melodic, and confidently executed. And with the release of ‘A Winter’ and ‘Jigsaws,’ Good Weather For An Airstrike has once again delivered two new enjoyable collections of soft ambient soundscapes.
From the press release that accompanies ‘A Winter’ EP, “Much like previous releases by Good Weather For An Airstrike, A Winter’s main goal is to create a set of easy listening tracks in which to help induce sleep, the reason behind this is due to Tom suffering from tinnitus which causes a ringing sensation in the ears which can often lead to difficulties sleeping.” Luckily, I don’t suffer from tinnitus, and I don’t need the music to induce sleep, but I do find that GWFAA’s records really help when I need to relax, or if I need assistance maintaining my focus after an extended period of work. You won’t hear any harsh transitions or abrasive tones on this seasonal release – the songs on ‘A Winter’ are glacial in their movement, yet soft in texture. The other day, I was listening to ‘A Winter’ while watching a light snowfall from my office window. There was very little wind that day, and the yard was completely still – the flakes were the only movement. Track 3 ‘Broken’ was streaming and it really felt as if the record was written specifically to soundtrack the afternoon’s weather event, all captured in GWFAA slow motion.
‘Jigsaws,’ Tom’s latest release, delivers eight more quiet soundscapes that he pulled from the GWFAA archives and compiled into one extremely limited CD. Utilizing artwork from Lauren Brett Photography, Tom sliced the image into 12 sections and used each as a cover for 12 copies of the compilation. I’m the proud owner of CD #2 – the top left corner of the photo. The songs on ‘Jigsaws’ are deeply meditative and organic, with transitions that happen over a period of minutes instead of seconds. The extended track ‘Together,’ for example, maintains the same sounds for minutes on-end, but it’s the strength and depth of the music that manages to keep the listener engaged. My favorite on the record, ‘February,’ bubbles with rich tones and exhibits wonderfully restrained movement, even though it’s as still as the other seven tracks. All of the songs on this release share these same qualities – a quiet and gentle calmness that should certainly help reduce your stress, induce your sleep, and maybe even relieve your tinnitus.
Good Weather For An Airstrike’s ‘Jigsaws’ limited edition CD is no longer available for purchase, but you can stream and/or download both ‘Jigsaws’ and ‘A Winter’ from their BandCamp site. See below for the link. By the way, my laptop battery is still juicing my machine. Maybe I’ll try this fancy new in-flight wireless service. Or maybe I’ll just take a nap…
Good Weather For An Airstrike on BandCamp
Before I begin my rambling, please note one thing – To me, a compiled playlist of songs (especially if art and/or a title are involved) is considered a mixtape. And that’s just perfect, because…
…if there’s one thing in this world that I know, it’s the mixtape. I’ve been building compilations since the early 80′s. My first cassettes were made for road trips, new music fans, and, of course, to (attempt to) impress the few “indie” girls who were in my class. The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, Wire, Echo, Gang of 4, and many others would flow together on so many wonderful collections. Eventually, the mixtapes simply became the easiest way to introduce new music to my friends, and to compile my favorite songs on to one convenient 90-minute medium. I had access to a huge library of records while I was working for WPTS (University of Pittsburgh, 1986-1990), so I was cranking out the tapes on a regular basis. I had a name (A Colony of Slippermen Production), I named/numbered every mix, created art for the covers, and I even kept a journal of the playlists and eventual owners. I still really enjoy going back through the logs, loving the memories attached to each of the collections. Tapes gave way to CDRs (my production slowed a bit at that point – real life started getting in the way of my free time), and then to my current “mid-life crisis” – a music/blog web site featuring compiled mp3s, streaming for anyone who visits and clicks play.
Throughout this long-time music adventure, one thing remained constant – a carefully-planned consistency and coherent theme for each playlist. Mixtapes are more than just a random selection of songs that are pulled together from the stacks. There should be a comfortable flow to the playlist, and the collections have to ‘just feel right.’ Anyone with a CD player and/or turntable can rip a handful of songs to a CD/cassette, but it takes practice, patience, and commitment to put together a mix that captivates the listener and truly motivates them to further explore the represented bands.
Now, you’ll find countless music blogs on the Internet that feature mixtapes. And many of them are really great. But every once in a while, you find one that is exceptional. The fine folks curating the instrumental music collections, collectively known as A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youngsters, are in that exceptional category. The 4th volume has just been released, and features 10 outstanding songs that flow perfectly, and combine into one really solid collection of rock music. Of course, I may be somewhat biased since, 1) I’m a huge post-rock fan (visit 6forty project for a taste of my hobby), 2) I love the other three collections, and knew that the guys were going to maintain the high standards set on the first three, and 3) I really enjoy all of the bands featured on this release.
My real job tends to keep me utterly consumed most days, so I rarely have time to write reviews, but in this case, I’m on a long flight, my laptop battery is expired (yep, this was written in a notebook with a pencil), and I’m listening to the collection on my iPod. So I figured that I would write a few thoughts about Volume 4.
Lost in the Riots – I Find your Lack of Faith Disturbing. A perfect opener to volume 4 – tight, hard, and driving. I would love to see these guys on a bill with Listing Ships and Alright the Captain. An excellent song.
What The Blood Revealed – Waiting for the Storm. Taken from one of my favorite albums of the year so far, this tune is ominous, powerful, and thundering. This is a great teaser, but to truly appreciate the impact of what The Blood Revealed, check out their full-length record, ‘Harbour of Devils.’
Lions Are Smarter Than I Am – Galbras. The track on Volume 4 is my first time hearing this band. Melodic monotone guitars, trudging rhythms, vocal instruments, and frequent tempo changes – so good. I’m really looking forward to exploring more from this band.
The Rustle of the Stars – Drawing Lines to the End of the World. A night-time song – sparse guitar, strings, melancholy soundscapes. So sublime and relaxed; a nice interlude on this rock playlist.
Karhide – Turing. Tim integrates such a refreshing combination of sounds on this recording. Heavy guitars, keyboard and other electronics, and a driving mechanical beat, all synced together into the perfect new-wave / prog / post-rock mashup.
A Hundred Black Kites – The Last Day. Shoegaze post-rock?! That’s just fine with me. Melodic swells, chiming guitars, a relaxed meandering tempo, and a grand exit. Very nice. Another new band in my collection that I’m eager to check out further.
Arbor Lights – Post-Rock/Paper/Scissors. I really like this song. It has such a smooth movement – clean melodies, a tight arrangement, and an easy focus. I’m reminded of my favorite early Cure instrumentals, which is why this song works so well for me…
Flies Are Spies From Hell – Nerves Still Beating (edit). Even in its slightly shortened form, this is still an epic and huge song. Flies do it so well – guitar swells and a driving rhythm, alongside their trademark (and wonderful) piano arrangements. Don’t forget to check out their full EP to hear this track in its extended beauty.
Dead Red Sun – Caverns. This is my favorite song on Volume 4. Racing guitars weave and surge on top of staccato beats, building in intensity as the song crescendos to the end. I love their EP, and can’t wait to hear more from these guys.
Eschar – Singularity. This song is so good, and is such a great way to end the collection. It’s heavy, and yet perfectly melodic. Post-rock or post-metal or whatever tag you want to assign – to me, it’s simply excellent rock music.
Remember, no matter what type of music lives on the mixtape, the person taking the time to compile the playlist had one primary goal – to introduce the listener to music he/she may not have otherwise known. Which hopefully leads them to buying record(s), motivating to see the bands play live, and/or just continuing to pass on the love of great independent music. The art of the mixtape continues to thrive. And thanks to collections like A Cheery Wave, listeners will continue to have interesting and exciting new music to discover for a long time to come.
Here’s a link to the latest volume, along with links to the previous three collections:
The End Of The Ocean :: Pacific•Atlantic
Release date :: March 1, 2011
Label :: Future Recordings
I figured the best way to start this review would be to simply state that if you’re a fan of cinematic post-rock (especially Explosions In The Sky and This Will Destroy You), then Pacific•Atlantic needs to live in your collection. The band is offering a limited package deal that includes a hand-stamped copy of the CD, download codes for this record and the last EP, a shirt, button, and poster – all for only $20 (you’ll find a link to the store below).
I really enjoy this record. It’s wonderfully balanced – the quiet moments are lush and smooth, and the transitions to loud build melodically and with care. I like it best when I listen through headphones – there’s a great deal of restrained power wrapped into the songs on this record, and when you aren’t bothered by sound from the outside world, you can truly appreciate their masterful delivery of a record that is at the same time, both calm and strong. The keyboard and string arrangements are perfectly smooth, the bass and drums (one of my favorite aspects of the record) maintain a consistently steady and relaxed rhythm, and the guitar work is solid. As you listen deep into standout tracks ‘On The Long Road Home,’ ‘May Be For The Better,’ and ‘We Always Think There Is Going To Be More Time,’ you’ll discover an outstanding album that is confident in its reserved strength, and a journey well worth taking. You’ll definitely be hearing songs from this record on an upcoming 6forty podcast. Also, the band is streaming a few songs from the record on their Facebook page – the link is below.