Foofer Friday: Row Boat – Romance

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Romance’ is, in a word, beautiful.

There, I’m done. On to the next review.

Seriously, there isn’t much to describe Row Boat’s latest release other than Beautiful. The opening track ‘Bella’ is a beautiful soundscape created by a myriad of instruments, showing you just how far Row Boat is from traditional post-rock. The more traditional instruments are barely audible. Like they’re trying to sound like post-postrock without being pretentious. Again, just… Beautiful.

‘Ljudet’ takes a more neo-classical turn, laid atop ambient guitars. It has a sombre feel to it, but strongly retains its beauty. The structure reminds me of Lowercase Noises’ “Migratory Patterns” EP, with the droning and slow horn progression fading in and out again. In keeping up with the romance theme, even the deepest of relationships have dark times. This is a perfect representation of that idea.

The title track ‘Romance’ is, in my opinion, representative of the more light-hearted times in a long-term relationship. It isn’t energetic by any means, but its melancholic positivity is clear. It’s far too easy to space out and think of friends during this song, but I think that’s what post-rock is partly about.

The album seamlessly progresses to its last track, ‘Gjenfodt’. The dreamy vocals singing in a foreign language are like The Dude’s rug: It ties it all together. The rhythmless structure feels like it was composed with instruments made of clouds, it’s so soft and gentle to the ears. The percussion instument sounds like a child’s toy, giving it a true sense of innocence.

The Romance theme is far too strong to ignore, upgrading this from a very impressive EP, to bery impressive *conceptual* EP. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re into sad mountains, distant boats, or lonely birds.

10/10 burning cars.

    

Foofer Friday: Dust Sculptures – Far Above The Pines

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This is one of those rare albums that stood out to me during my slumming session through the new albums tagged as post-rock on bandcamp. For the mast part, it’s pretty easy to tell when something isn’t actually post-rock just by looking at the tags. I cannot tell you how many times I didn’t even bother clicking play because I saw so many tags that weren’t post-rock. Dust Sculptures hit all the right notes with tags like Shoegaze, Progressive, Black Metal, Experimental, and Post-rock. I will be among the first to tell you that all of these tags are accurate.

Just looking at the bandcamp page, you can immediately tell that he’s put a lot of effort into this album, seeing how the track titles themselves tell a story of sorts. “Far above the pines lies the youngest mountain, where we left something in the snow. Subtle thing under the canopy of trees, breathing life into these tired lungs.” Right away I knew this was something very special.

This one man band from Nashville seamlessly ties together so many genres at once, it’s really hard to describe him in a small amount of words. At one point you could go from experimental soundscapes to chilled out jam sessions, to blistering blast beats all withing the span of a minute. It’s a roller coaster of sounds, and what a thrilling ride it is.

Josh Marberry, the man behind the music, really showcases his skills and talents in the opening track, ‘Far Above The Pines’. It begins with a very heavy influence from post-rock, with tremolo guitars in the distance moving to layered guitars, in a very post-metal sort of groove. Layered voices, all belonging to Josh, sing of the Pines in a very heavenly tone. It’s very simple harmonies, but he pulls it off well. The mellow sounds eventually give way to heavier, more metallic influences. And then he goes full out black metal.

And I haven’t even covered the first half of the first track.

In all of its 13 minutes, not a single second has gone unperfected. Every single track of this album is exactly the same in regards to attention to detail. Everything is very deliberate without feeling too forced. The sudden transitions from electric guitars to acoustic aren’t jarring at all, proving an extremely strong sense of structure.

Since we’re on the topic of structure – Remember those track titles? Each sentence takes up about half of the album. Once one sentence is over, the album feels like it’s been flipped over; like flipping a record on a turntable. There are no words to describe my excitement about this detail. To most, it would go unnoticed. Back in the day, artists would take the size of a vinyl record into consideration and make two sides of an album; two sides of the same coin. I don’t know if that’s what Josh had in mind, or if it’s completely by accident, but I love this album all the more for it. The “Sides” are in fact too big to fit on one side of a 12″ 33rpm vinyl record, but the concept itself doesn’t go unappreciated.

This is a remarkable album, forged by a remarkable musician. A true artist with a true work of art. This doesn’t deserve to be tied to any one genre, it doesn’t deserve to be heard by any one group of fans. Anyone and everyone who enjoys masterful music should listen to this magnificent piece and bask in its genius. Listen to it now and listen to it played loud.

 

  

Foofer Twofer – City of Heracleion “S/T” & Sine of Life “Chasm”

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CoHCity of Heracleion is the most recent release from Futurerecordings, an experimental label from the UK. I immediately knew that this was something I should at least try out, because they’ve had a pretty good track record with bands like Years of Rice and Salt, and The End of The Ocean.

The album consists of two purely enormous songs, both clocking in at just over twenty minutes. It reminds me of the first time I found Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “What, 17 minutes long, how is that even possible?!” But just like my experience with F#A#Infinity, my skepticism was melted away into awe after being immersed into a lush atmosphere of noises and textures.

With that, this album is probably the heaviest I’ve reviewed outside of the Those Amongst Us Are Wolves roundtable. It’s a very thick sound, which makes for easy listening after the airy intro. Everything just surrounds you and penetrates you with its heaviness. And I will be the first to say that I am by no means a Doom Metal fan, but this is something I can really get behind. This is a musical journey that no one should miss out on. If any album of 2014 deserves a vinyl pressing, it is this album right here.

(Even if you don’t care for this album, be sure to check out futurerecording’s bandcamp, there are so many other genres on display there. I highly recommend Years of Rice and Salt.)

 

SoLSine of Life – “Chasm”

On the opposite end of things, Sine of Life is anything but thick and heavy. With its heavy usage of the Acoustic Guitar and its simple structures, it’s quite homey. It’s warm and inviting, loving and intimate. It’s been so long since I’ve heard the Acoustic guitar used for post-rock in such a central manner. To top it off, they from my home state! To be honest, when I saw the ‘Idaho’ tag on bandcamp, I was expecting the worst. There’s something about this state that makes for so much terrible music. Might have to do with the fact that Idaho has the highest mental retardation rates in the USA…

ANYWAYS.

This music is the soundtrack for someone like me in a cafe, writing about music like this. It’s too chill to not be in a cafe. Even when they do use the electric guitar, it has a very laid back role in the overall sound. My only issue are the fake instruments, but they’re understandable when you live in the small, small town of Jerome, Idaho.

It’s the most charming little album you’ll ever find, and I cannot emphasize enough the fact that you should listen to both of these beautiful, though varied, albums.

 

Next week: Sundry Commentary pt. II

Foofer Friday: Glaswegians – Glaswegians

7Oh3Kjg-2glasThese past few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me. I just started writing for Echoes and Dust, which is how I found this band, Glaswegians.

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed when I found out that the band Glaswegians wasn’t actually from Glasgow. This misleading band hails from British Columbia. Sneaky hosers.

The album, however, was far from disappointing, and it’s just as sneaky. You think the intro is going to be very dark and gloomy until you realize that the tempo is slowly picking up. It’s so smooth and so well done, it’s impressive to see something so difficult to pull off in a band’s debut ep.

The song as a whole sounds like the soundtrack to a mystery novel that takes place on a train, which seems to be a sort of a theme, recurring in ‘Avoirdupois’. I think you can hear an actual train, too. Have you been around a train lately? If not, let me remind you of what they are like: They are beasts. Low grumblings of sheer power, forces to be reckoned with. An unyielding momentum that is captured perfectly in this album.

And when they aren’t making the latest train murder mystery movie soundtrack, they’re showing their musical prowess with more traditional means, with soaring guitars and calming soundscapes. The high are just as calming as the lows, the lows are just as rewarding as the highs, and the snozberries taste like snozberries!

With outstanding instrumentalists and perfect recording quality, there’s no way you can go wrong. Nothing sounds out of place, nothing sounds like it’s dominating your headphones. It hits all the right notes with me, both literally and figuratively.

This album will be released later this year, but you can stream the first two tracks on their bandcamp page.

 

Foofer Friday: The Wax Girl – Anosmic EP

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a0742523361_2There are some times when you and an album just click. The Wax Girl’s debut EP ‘Anosmic’ really struck a chord within me, and I just can’t get enough of it. It’s been on repeat for the past week. This magnificent Canadian band has crafted something extraordinary.

Unlike most other post-rock bands, the guitar doesn’t strike me as their go-to instrument. The first track ‘Consciousness’ makes me think up new genres like synth-drone, it’s so fluffy and soothing like a new pillow. It really sets you up nicely for the remainder of the EP; the very meaning of mellow.

The way ‘Broken Space’ starts is unique, the guitar effects are set up in such a way that it sounds like droplets falling into a small pond, making ripples as they hit the calm surface. The whole track reminds me of a glassy lake. I would like to point out that I’ve never heard a warmer bass tone in my life.

‘Unknown Location’ wakes you up a little bit more, not unlike that moment when you wake up, reposition yourself, and fall back asleep. It has a little bit more girth to its sound with the guitars playing full chords, and the drums maintaining a steadier beat than before. The recording quality on the acoustic guitar is quite impressive, I like the fact that I can hear fingers rubbing against the strings.

‘Departure’ delivers a soundscape similar to what you’d expect from a Banjo-less Lowercase Noises; multi-layered guitars atop a soft bed of synth tones. Some of the guitar’s effects are so heavy, it almost sounds like it’s being played underwater. It’s not something you’d really hear your first time through, which gives this album some replayability value. Not something you can really say often about post-rock.

A title like ‘Sleep Disorder’ confirms my ideas about this being a very sleepy EP, even though this song isn’t nearly as calm as the others. This is a bit more like typical post-rock with tremolo picking and a sluggish and distinct crescendo throughout the entire piece. It doesn’t really seem to cultivate itself into the stereotypical wall of sound, but that would ruin its sleepy theme. So in the end, it really fits together quite well, despite my usual dislike for anticlimactic music.

My suggestion to you is to listen to this when you’re getting ready for bed, or whenever you happen to be just sleepy enough to be at peace with the world despite your stresses and obligations. Give this a spin, and then sleep. I’m not saying that this music sucks and puts you to sleep, not at all. I just think it’s the perfect soundtrack to any mellow or relaxed time during your day. You will certainly have time to listen to it from beginning to finish, seeing that it’s just under 19 minutes long. I’ve already listened to it twice while writing about it.

The talent is there, the effects and textures are all there, the production value is certainly there, I cannot think of a single thing I don’t like about this EP, which is why I’m not skimping out and doing a Foofer Twofer. Quit reading this and go listen, right now. 10 out of 10 burning cars.

      

Foofer Friday: Wang Wen – Eight Horses

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15 years, and 8 albums. This is the mark of a truly impressive band, by anyone’s standards. Wang Wen, China’s largest Post-Rock band, just celebrated their 15th year together as a band by releasing their 8th album, Eight Horses. I know I’ve already mentioned this album in passing in my Sundry Commentary article, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to delve deeper into this album. The fact that none of the other writers are willing to write about Wang Wen made me a bit sad and sympathetic.

If you’ve ever listened to Wang Wen’s remarkable discography, you’ll notice they mature and develop their sound very steadily. I first heard of Wang Wen after they released 0.7, which has grown to be one of my favorite Post-Rock albums, even to the point of paying an absurd amount of money for the vinyl record. My wallet is thankful that the Eight Horses vinyl has yet to be released (They say it’ll be pressed by this September, but the vinyl world is a finicky world to say the least.)

I firmly believe that this album could be a good soundtrack to the “Wild China” documentary series. My point is driven by the opening track ‘Northern North’, which brings pictures of all sorts of wildlife and majestic landscapes to my mind, with its sweeping sounds and subdued ambience. Like the sounds of nature waking up, the song gradually adds more layers until it reaches its climax, complete with vocals and horns. I think this is the first time I’ve heard a post-rock breakdown with this eclectic combination. It definitely makes for a very unique experience.

The rest of the album has a mysterious sort of feel to it, almost exotic in nature, but they still make everything feel like it belongs there. From the Sigur Ros style of bowstring on guitar to the lyricless vocals to the horns and strings, it all feels so expertly orchestrated. It feels familiar and new all at the same time, because it’s conveniently accessible and simultaneously ground-breaking. This is one of the biggest technical achievements I’ve heard all year.

Something I thoroughly enjoy throughout this album is the fact that they continuously avoid sounding like other bands. Just when they start to sound like Sigur Ros, they change it up. When they begin to resemble Mono, they flip the music on its head. The impossibility to mistake Wang Wen for any other band is something I truly admire.

However, I have listened to this album over and over again, and there’s something that keeps nagging at me in the back of my mind. It’s not anything that has to do with song structure, instrumentation, recording quality, or even the overall feeling of the album. Heck, even the titles fit the mood of the tracks. But for the life of me, I can’t get anything from this album stuck in my head. It’s just not a memorable album, in my opinion. Every other album has some point or another that gets stuck in my head, but this one fails in that infinitesimal aspect.

If I had to rate this album, I’d give it 100%, absolutely no doubt about it. It’s like Mary Poppins; Practically perfect in every way. I would recommend this to anyone who likes anything related to instrumental music, ambient, post-metal, whatever. If Wang Wen decided to disband with no more recordings, they would certainly be ending on a high note.

Go ahead and try to prove my opinion wrong via twitter @Foofsies or via email at fooferfridays@gmail.com

Next week: The Wax Girl – Anosmic EP