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Dec 302013

<< 640.2013.releases >>

Oiseaux-Tempête ‘Oiseaux-Tempête’
[released 19 November 2013]
French experimentalists Oiseaux-Tempête create visual music; rich in texture and depth. My first exposure to their music was via their release teaser on their website, and a few shorts on youtube. I was hooked immediately by their dark, organic soundscapes. The record, beautifully packaged in gatefold red vinyl with stunning imagery, expands upon the youtube films, and delivers a passionate and intense instrumental rock experience.

Mooncake ‘Zaris’
[released 18 October 2013]
‘Zaris’ is easily one of the finest post-rock records in my collection. It delivers lush soaring melodies, richly textured foundations, bold compositions, and the one feature that stands out throughout this entire release – never a need to rush. The songs are balanced and strong, and tell their story at their own pace. Impossible to pick a favorite – I love every song.

Signal Hill ‘Chase The Ghost’
[released 30 April 2013]
‘Chase the Ghost’ is blissfully melodic instrumental rock. The songs loop and sway with meandering brilliance. My go-to stream to start most days – a perfect combination of Dif Juz era-4AD, light/math, and shoegaze. Lovely.

The Shaking Sensations ‘Start Stop Worrying’
[released 22 March 2013]
The songs on ‘Start Stop Worrying’ are lush and melodic, and exhibit many of the same characteristics that made the first two Shaking Sensations records so enjoyable. The way the band embraces expanding layers of percussion; chiming guitars that weave and soar; perfect transitions between the heavy and soft moments. With this release, the band delivers six stunning and mature compositions that firmly position them among the best in the instrumental rock genre.

Oak ‘Not Afraid Anymore’
[released 19 January 2013]
Oak’s new release ‘Not Afraid Anymore’ is an excellent example of the new breed of rock bands that embrace post-punk heaviness with their own psychedelic rock influences, while adding unique driving rhythms, and densely melodic compositions. The songs are dynamic, brooding and dark. Highly recommended for fans of powerful and intelligent instrumental rock.

Kafka ‘la Petite Marchande d’Allumettes’
[released 18 January 2013]
I am a huge fan of avant-garde instrumental rock. Starting off in my youth with Gabriel-era Genesis, up through now, with great bands like Do Make Say Think, Fly Pan Am, A Far Off Reason, Jung People, Kafka. All are on regular rotation here. This release from Kafka is a musical adaptation of the film ‘La Petite Marchande d’Allumettes’ (‘The Little Match Girl’), Jean Renoir (1928), which is based on a short story by Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1845. The story is grim and hallucinatory – the improvised quality of the songs match well to the story’s mood and will often leave you feeling disjointed and scattered, just as the little girl would have felt as she burns through her matches to maintain the visions of her long dead grandmother. The instrumentation on this record is brilliant – electro/acoustic meanderings with keyboards, bass, and guitar, with a strong emphasis on percussion throughout. An outstanding soundtrack – my only wish is that I would have been fortunate enough to see this performed live.

Fargo ‘heimkehr’
[released 26 January 2013]
The Heimkehr EP (‘Homecoming’) features two heavy epic-length slow-burners that will definitely appeal to fans of Milhaven and Daturah. I love this record. “For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?” George Orwell, 1984

Shy, Low ‘Binary Opposition’
[released 25 June 2013]
This EP is an outstanding transition from Shy, Low’s brilliant 2012 self-titled release. The songs are organic and uplifting, the builds are relaxed and  quiet, and the movement into the crescendos is confident and powerful. And they sound really great live – one of our favorite shows of 2013 – pummeling, and perfect.

Wired to Follow ‘Everything in Colour’
[released 30 March 2013]
MinionTV’s 2010 self-titled debut topped 6forty project’s favorite releases that year. And it remains one of the finest instrumental rock albums in my collection. Subsequent releases have also been outstanding. Recently, band members Stephen Johnston and Barry Fearns have taken a side-car adventure with the formation of Wired to Follow, featuring a deep dive into the ambient soundscapes and post/electronica that appeared at times on the various MinionTV releases. The songs on this EP are lushly textured and alive; a vivid and visual soundtrack, fitting for films such as Liquid Sky or Fantastic Planet. Highly recommended listening. On regular repeat status in the 6forty office…

Fourteen Nights At Sea ‘Great North’
[released 12 April 2013]
‘Great North’ is massive; a glacial wall of beautiful rock music. Visual and stunning. “In the field itself, ribbons of color described arabesques across a background of sultry browns and greens, forms that were pure abstraction – bright jottings from some wild man’s diary – jostling with stylized flora and fauna. But this complexity paled beside the centerpiece of the carpet: a giant medallion, its colors as various as a summer garden, into which a hundred subtle geometries had been cunningly woven, so that the eye could reach each pattern as flower or theorem, order or turmoil, and find each choice echoed somewhere in the grand design.” Clive Barker, Weaveworld

Glories ‘Mother Reverb’
[released 12 April 2013]
‘Mother Reverb’ is an outstanding collection of smooth and melodic instrumental rock. Blissfully chiming guitars; gentle yet powerful swells; and such easy movement. Highly recommended for fans of Explosions in the Sky’s ‘Friday Night Lights,’ Red Room Cinema, Rest (Nashville, US), Sunlight Ascending’s ‘Appointment’ EP, and Moonlit Sailor. This is a wonderful collection of music – definitely a post-rock gateway drug.

Man Mountain ‘To Call Each Thing By Its Right Name’
[released 24 May 2013]
This is outstanding post-rock. The songs are melodic, bright, blissful, and smooth. “Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.” Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Trappist Afterland ‘Like a Beehive, The Hill was Alive’
[released 21 June 2013]
‘Like a Beehive, The Hill Was Alive’ is definitely the most unique of the records on this year’s favorite releases list. Traditional acoustic instrumentation, spiritual lyric exploration, psychedelic folk arrangements. Highly recommended for fans of Glorious Din, Hrsta, and (Insight Records) Spahn Ranch. “and alone we tread through traps and longing; to find the path, birdsongs, insects calling; in lure we trek through thorns and bracken; to find an elm tree fit for lodging.” Trappist Afterland

EF ‘Ceremonies’
[released 01 September 2013]
‘Ceremonies’ is one of the few releases on this list that features vocals. Lush melodic post-rock, relaxed movement, and lovely arrangements. Highly recommended for fans of Moonlit Sailor and Dorena. “My wanderings amid such scenes have been many, and far-searching, and often solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through many a dim deep valley, or gazed into the reflected Heaven of many a bright lake, has been an interest greatly deepened by the thought that I have strayed and gazed alone.” Edgar Allan Poe, The Island of the Fay

jakeL ‘The Black Sea’
[released 03 October 2013]
Outstanding progressive post-rock from Montreal. This record shines like the sun. I love it. “The Black Sea is a marginal sea and is the world’s largest body of water with a meromictic basin. The deep waters do not mix with the upper layers of water that receive oxygen from the atmosphere. As a result, over 90% of the deeper Black Sea volume is anoxic water. The Black Sea’s circulation patterns are primarily controlled by basin topography and fluvial inputs, which result in a strongly stratified vertical structure. Because of the extreme stratification, it is classified as a salt-wedge estuary. (Wikipedia)

The Autumn Leaves Fall In ‘The Different Visions Of Things’
[released 17 January 2013]
Heavy, yet melodic, post-rock from Firenze, Italy. The songs are dark and rich; deep and transitional like an October sky. ‘Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities for escape, again, are as many as hiding places.’ Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

Jardín de la Croix ‘187 steps to cross the universe’
[released 21 February 2013]
This EP kicks ass. Clean, tight, driving math-rock that’s constantly blaring from my iPod… “There were perhaps a hundred eyes in all, but staring an age at it would not have revealed their true number, for the thing, despite its solidity, defied fixing. Were those wheels that moved at its heart, tied with lines of liquid fire to a hundred other geometries which informed the air it occupied? Did innumerable wings beat at its perimeters, and light burn in its bowels, as though it had swallowed stars? Nothing was certain. In one breath, it seemed to be enclosed in a matrix of darting light, like scaffolding struck by lightning; in the next, the pattern became flame confetti, which swarmed at its extremities before it was snatched away. One moment, ether; the next, juggernaut.” Clive Parker, Weaveworld

Jung People ‘Gold Bristle!’
[released 12 October 2013]
There’s a whole lot of music going on here – it’s really difficult to adequately describe this release with only a few descriptives. Perfect avant-garde instrumental rock – intelligent, gentle, and so wonderfully melodic. Highly recommended if you enjoy 4AD’s Dif Juz, Do Make Say Think, Kafka, and A Far Off Reason. “If all the heavens with all their stars; exploded in this valley, they would; be but a leaf fluttering in the wind. Here a tiny fish is mightier than; a whale and nobody can say why.” Peter Sís, The Conference of the Birds

The Fierce and the Dead ‘Spooky Action’
[released 04 November 2013]
The Fierce and the Dead’s ‘Spooky Action’ reminds me of my favorite Yo La Tengo records. Tight improvisational rock jams, frequent tempo changes, blazing guitar leads, driving rhythm, and constant movement. I hear something new and wonderful every time I listen…

The Declining Winter ‘Fragment 5’
[released 11 August 2013]
“The Declining Winter started out as the meanderings of me, Mr. Richard Vincent Adams of Leeds, West Yorkshire now resident in York, North Yorkshire. A musical project to keep me occupied whilst my other group is (still) on hiatus and also so I can pretend that I’m not just an office worker by trade.” I’ve been a fan of Richard’s projects going back to the earliest Hood records, up to the latest Declining Winter release, ‘Lost Songs’ (limited cassette). ‘Fragment 5’ continues his exploration of acoustic soundscapes and lovely pastoral ballads. Outstanding.

Doomina ‘Beauty’
[released 21 September 2013]
A stunning post-rock release – the songs are hypnotic and powerful. Gentle sways lead to massive swells. Listeners who enjoy their post-rock with a side of shoegaze will definitely enjoy this record. I’m addicted… “The pillar of fire still raged in the night sky as it had for the past hour. The stars swam in the inky darkness around it, magic swirling in a frenzy as if from a bottomless well.” Steven Erikson, Gardens of the Moon: Volume One of the Malazan Book of the Fallen

subzar ‘Pico’
[released 16 December 2013]
This is modern-classical/post-chamber at its finest. I love the interplay between the strings and the acoustic guitars. Perfect arrangements, lovely melodies, such flawless movement. Emphatically recommended to fans of the Rachel’s. I will never get tired of listening to this EP. “subzar travelled to Austria to record in the valley town of Pfarrwerfen, near Salzburg, so sought to replicate the travellers’ ethos. ‘pico’ was recorded using only the instruments they carried and the natural sounds captured on their travels, with minimal overdubs formed mainly from analogue manipulation of recorded tracks. The result is a naked and pure recording that better captures the spirit of the quartet’s live performances.”

Vasudeva ‘Life in Cycles’
[released 23 July 2013]
Vasudeva is razor-sharp angular math that blends the pop-goodness and rapid-fire tempo of Wedding Present, with modern free-form loop/riffing instrumental rock. Superb! Extra bonus – they live close, which means that I get to see them play often. And that’s definitely a treat, because these songs are even more ass-kicking live…

North End ‘Cognoscere’
[released 13 August 2013]
‘Cognoscere’ is complex and heavy math-rock. Shifting time signatures, sharp u-turns, pounding rhythms, and layers of chiming guitars come together perfectly on this melodic whirlwind. Best when cranked through headphones, and preferably before or after the equally amazing Vasudeva release.

in violet ‘opal’
[released 08 July 2013]
‘Opal’ is sonic bliss; psychedelic post/noise-pop mayhem. Richly textured guitars, tight beats and electronics, driving bass, and signature ‘in violet’ vocal effects take you on a trip down the rabbit hole with these eight brilliant tracks. “…This bottle was NOT marked ‘poison,’ so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast), she very soon finished it off. ‘What a curious feeling!’ said Alice; ‘I must be shutting up like a telescope.” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Damascus ‘Heights’
[released 10 July 2013]
Outstanding progressive instrumental rock from New Jersey. Tight, explosive melodies and intensely energetic compositions. Damascus is my first choice when heading out on road trips – perfect driving music…

<< 640.2013.video >>

Maybeshewill   ‘Live At The Y Theatre’
Overhead, The Albatross   ‘Telekinetic Forest Guard’
Signal Hill   ‘Meatlocker TV’
And Also The Trees   ‘Live at Dark Bombastic Evening 5’
Mutiny on the Bounty   ‘BeatCast Studio Session’
Temps Zero Toulouse : Oiseaux-Tempête live impro + fotoprojektions
And Also The Trees   ‘Missing in Mâcon’ (90 minute live film)
Sigur Rós   ‘Hrafntinna’ (Converse EMPTY SPACE #4)
Caspian   ‘Live on KEXP’

<< 640.2013.live >>

Mohican, Signal Hill, Vasudeva, North End @ North Star Bar, April 25, 2013
Shy, Low @ Kung Fu Necktie, May 30, 2013
Bardo Pond, Major Stars, Static Mountain @ PhilaMOCA, June 27, 2013
Sigur Rós @ Mann Center, September 20, 2013
And So I Watch You From Afar, TTNG, Mylets @ First Unitarian Church, November 1, 2013
Mono, Majeure @ Johnny Brendas, November 19, 2013
Caspian, 65daysofstatic, The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die @ First Unitarian Church, November 26, 2013

 Posted by at 9:12 am