Sora Shima – You Are Surrounded

Blinded by Audrey Fall’s fantastic debut album that instantly made its way to the top of my 2014 list I had been listening to that and also preparing myself for ArcTanGent Festival this year by gorging myself on releases by the many unmissable bands from their line-up. When perusing Reddit’sPostRocksubreddit I found a user who had posted their top ten post-rock releases so far this year. “No Audrey Fall”, I scoffed and then my eyes fell on this name, SoraShima.

You Are Surrounded was released on 16th February this year and is New Zealand’s dark and dreamy instrumental sonic rockers SoraShima’s first long player after having released three EPs since they formed in 2006. Despite being a complete mouthful, dark and dreamy instrumental sonic rockers pretty much lays down what you need to know about these guys. However there is one major factor that is really going to decide for you how you feel about this album…

Opening track Gang Violins is ambient and electronic, to start with. Soothing, swirling pads play around punchy electric beats and then a Mogwai tracks plays….

Hang on…what?

To say that SoraShima display some Mogwai influences would be an understatement. It manifests mainly in the guitars; the tone, the melodies, the production. Just listen to the beginning of ‘And Behold A Pale Horse’ and tell me that it is not a track sadly missed from one of Mogwai’s early works. Some would scream ”rip-off”. I am much more lenient.

The tracks are solidly written and almost effortlessly display the ability to move between rocked out and ambient. ‘Fill Spectre’begins as full on indie rock and becomes a swathe of ambience. ‘Glass Coffins’ is bouncy delay filled melodies and then a Mono wall of tremolo picked sound. These are just the opening tracks, there is much more to come.

Track ‘Sendai / Kurosawa’ is a highlight for me. It would be, I like long tracks. Sixteen minutes begins with a really familiar piano melody; could not put my finger on it though. Then a sound growls from beneath the mix and the guitars enter. The motif chord pattern creates an effect that I really hold high in composition where the track has lots of movement without really going anywhere. The tension felt, as you know something massive has to happen soon, is one of the best feelings music can give you (in this writer’s humble opinion). When it breaks the tension you feel happily relieved.

Their sleeves are worn heavy with influences, but it all comes fitted together under the SoraShima banner. Each track knows its place and paces itself beautifully. It feels that there is a minimalist approach to how the instruments interact and play out. Each one has its space and never imposes uninvited into the path of another. This really is ambient post-rock at its finest.

We do have to come back to that Mogwai sound though. Is this album nearly two decades too late? It did bother me initially, but this is a brilliant album and if you let it bother you then you really are missing out.

If it had come out in the mid-90s, before Young Team, maybe we would be hailing SoraShima as one of the big players in this massive musical ocean that we call Post-Rock. Don’t let it put you off. You Are Surrounded is worth every second of your time.



tags: explosions in the sky godspeed you black emperor mogwai mono rock sigur ros ambient drone indie instrumental post-metal post-rock postrock shoegaze soundscapes triphop Hamilton

Koko Sing – Less Wild Lovers

You know, I’ve been listening to ‘Less Wild Lovers’ by Koko Sing, a West Virginia based project that may or may not be active currently (seriously, there is nothing on these guys anywhere on the net) and I’ve been really struggling to describe their sound. The band describes themselves as Indie, Math-Rock, Lo-Fi, and alternative in addition of course to post-rock, but I can’t help but feel most of those labels are slightly exaggerated. The truth is I’m going to have to be one of THOSE reviewers who creates a new term to define the sound of a relatively obscure band you’ve never heard of before. With no intentions for this term to catch on, I am affectionately referring to Koko Sing as ‘Coffee Shop Post-Rock’ .

I just can’t help but feel this album is simply the perfect backing soundtrack to that little hole in the wall non-corporate coffee house that everyone in the neighborhood goes to in order to get away from the madness of the outside world. You know, the one that serves both Italian sodas AND Candy Cane Lattes and occasionally has a high school 3-piece or two play an impromptu jam session on Thursdays. ‘Less Wild Lovers’ just has this warm approachable feel to it that makes you easily lose track of the fact that this is a meaty 8-track 54 minute effort. I think what I most like about Koko Sing’s sound is that they never stray for their every so slightly warmly distorted mellow subdued sound, they never attempt to rewrite the genre and they certainly aren’t flashy, but they still manage to snag my attention for every moment of each song. Each song is its own effort and remains unique, but as a whole album ‘Less Wild Lovers’ presents phenomenal synergy.

Above all else, it’s a really fun album to boot. The band definitely has a bevy of math-rock influence but lacks all of the sporadic craziness that generally sets apart math-rock from post-rock. It’s almost like math-rock on a real tight leash or stuffed in a cage. Tracks like “I Can’t Stop Imagining Myself Without Lips” and “Truth and Threats” are perfect examples of songs that could easily go off the rails into flurries of math-rock offensive, but instead opt to stay true to the mellow vibe the band has nearly perfected. To compare one obscure regional band to another obscure regional band, Koko Sing reminds me a lot of Nomads from Cleveland, Oh, yet another band I’d like to throw under this brand new ‘Coffee Shop Post-Rock’ umbrella of mine.

Introductory post-rock at its finest, you could set this album to shuffle and the first song to come up would be an excellent choice for introducing a new listener to the genre. ‘Less Wild Lovers’ is the end result of a band willing to add influence into their sound but unwilling to become those influences. For the sake of picking favorites (man, I’m going to be a terrible Father some day if I have more than one child), I’ll take “Repeat After Me” as my favorite track on the album for it’s simplistically catchy layered guitars with “Truth and Threats” as a close second for having some seriously mathy Jardin De La Croix influence.

The world won’t end if you don’t check out Koko Sing, but if you do check them out your day will be substantially better. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


tags: alternative rock diy hardcore indie instrumental lo-fi math rock post-rock Morgantown

OBE – Partners

Reviewed by: TenaciousListening

OBE’s debut album, Partners, is an exhausting piece of work. The ideas flow thick and fast, the dual guitar attack is full of imaginative melodies and counter melodies whilst the rhythm section thankfully, lest they completely run away from each other, holds them together with generally simpler arrangements. Or that is the feeling I sometimes got while listening to this album. In actual fact the often-separate guitar parts are expertly crafted to compliment each other while they could easily stand up on their own.

This is instrumental math rock, with leanings towards the heavier side of things and a smattering of tremolo picked parts that hint at some post-rock inspiration. There are no obvious crescendos, but the tracks build and build their sections between the bigger riffs and even the often-changing ideas fit well together without feeling forced.

Like any post-whatever album a fade in intro to the first riff is almost essential, but the riff that enters literally drags you towards a riff where the track, Antifragile, really starts. It’s big and before you know it things have dropped down into quieter waters and begin to build. The rest of the album follows this schizophrenic pattern; you never know quite what is coming next, but when it does it is exactly what you expected, but you are surprised as you didn’t expect your expectations to be met!

The way these guys progress the music is brilliant and Partners is definitely one of those albums that you have to listen to a number of times before the tracks take on their own identity. Not because everything sounds the same, but because the whole thing works together so well. If I had to give you a few highlights then they have to be Standard Fog, Backcracker, and Bay of Pigs Memorial Dance; but that’s only as you asked, the hooks come thick and fast and by the time one’s gone another is on its way.

Even though the tracks are brilliantly formed, the melodies intriguing and the riffs driving, you get the feeling that this band is one to catch live. I’ve been assured that they are and I’ll be sharing a stage with them at the end of April so I’ll get to see. If you like your music heavy and technical with a whole lot of fun thrown in then you cannot fail to love Obe.


tags: alternative cinematic instrumental post-rock progressive riff rock United Kingdom

Wess Meets West – When The Structures Fail Us

Reviewed by: Foofer

Wess Meets West is one of the most annoying band names to say aloud. It needs to be said… figuratively, not literally.

Wess Meets West hasn’t really made any splashes in any ponds other than their local ones, but with two full albums and an EP under their belt, they’ve started to gain a following in the more obscure post-rock circles.

That being said, this is not post-rock, strictly speaking. They don’t depend on the bass for their melodies, the guitar isn’t used for textures nearly enough, and they still hav a very rock-like structure to them, even if it is a bit more linear. Still, it can’t accurately be labeled as post-rock.

Even if this is technically instrumental rock, it’s still got a ton of talent backing it up, and I still enjoy it immensely. The musicians have got to be psychic, they’re all so tight as a group. It may as well have been done on a computer, it’s all so perfectly synchronized. I’m a huge sound geek, so the quality of the recording is always something I notice. With the limited funds that small bands have, it’s extremely difficult to get a good sound from the drums to the mics with these budget/equipment restrictions. Needless to say, the audiophile in me goes absolutely nuts over this album.

As a listener, it’s an entirely different story. The debut EP/single/whatever is usually something they put together quickly to get something out there as soon as possible. So they’ve released something, and they’ve got a sliver of experience under their belt, so they make their first full album their first true effort and these first albums typically have a very similar sound if not identical to their first release.

Sophomore albums are like the pubescent stage for bands. They’ve discovered what they’re good at, and start experimenting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This one is a bit of both; I love this album but some of my friends are less than thrilled about it, to say the least.

Yes, they sound airtight, but they’ve got a lot to learn when it comes to their song structure. Yes, they have excellent recording qualities, but your average listener doesn’t even have the right listening equipment to truly appreciate it, so it’s kind of a null point to make when arguing for this album. You could go back and forth about this album for a while, but I don’t think it’s worth the time. Just agree to disagree, and enjoy it. Or not. It’s up to you.


tags: electronic post rock rock New Haven

Before The Eyewall – Before the Eyewall

This record has been out for a while, and we’ve promoted it on the site before. I just feel like it needs a proper review to do it justice.

Before The Eyewall’s full length debut is a raging monolith. This Ohio three piece not only know how to build up a track, they know how to deliver the sludgy heavy goods like god’s own fist thrust into the sun. I find it kind of amazing that a band capable of such nuanced introductions and intermissions can slam down the doom so hard. I had to turn my subwoofer down! The psych influences here are just evident enough to balance out all the brash ball-stomping gnarl. Quieter moments fit right in, fleshing out the Gollum of rock.

These guys aren’t new to music, and BTE itself has been going on since 2010. They are road tested and seasoned. Post metal is always a crapshoot, but this is quality to the extreme. Songs flow well into one another, and the riffs are there, but there’s no overindulgence, just raw, intuitive song.

Production is more then decent. There’s a lot going on once in a while, but it sounds like everything can be translated (with the help of a looper at least) to a live environment. The guitar has just the right heft to keep it on the right side of overly chunky, while the bass is limber when clean, and a gorilla when fuzzed. The drums get a little buried once in a while, tonally, but the percussiveness and punch are still like kicks from inside a fog.

I am of the mind that this is well worth listening to for anyone into heavier post rock/post metal, or doom, sludge, and all those other bullshit names. The bottom line is that this is a straight up great debut. Do not sleep on Before The Eyewall.