ARCTANGENT FESTIVAL 2014 CLASH GUIDE PT. 4

ArcTanGent begins tomorrow with their early entry line-up. One stage, eight bands. Check this out:

YOHKAI STAGE

HEADLINER: And So I Watch You From Afar –  alternative | instrumental | rock

Three Trapped Tigers –  electronica | experimental | post-rock | progressive rock

TTNG –  rock | pop | math-rock | progressive

The Physics House Band –  electronica | experimental | avant-garde | math-rock | post-rock | progressive rock | jazz

Baby Godzilla – blues | noise | post-hardcore | rock

Nordic Giants –  ambient | cinematic | post-rock | experimental | instrumental | ambient | downtempo | psychedelic

The St. Pierre Snake Invasion – alternative

Theo –  alternative | instrumental | math-rock


More importantly; here is the final clash guide for the ARC and PX3 stages on Saturday 30th. You can catch the first three bands (THE WINCHESTER CLUB, LUO, GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE) on the ARC stage as they do not clash with anybody apart from a bit of an overlap with some of the bands on the YOHKAI ands BIXLER stages. Here is the clash finder. Here is our ArcTanGent 2014 Spotify playlist:


Clash 1

ARC STAGE

BLUENECK –  alternative | post-rock | rock

VS

PX3 STAGE

WICKET –  ambient | instrumental | rock | post-rock

*sigh* What am I to do? Britain’s answer to Sigur Ros (without sounding too much like Sigur Ros) or some excellent, solid post-rock from a band with a biscuit loving drummer. That sentence should make the decision easy, but it really is not. One of the most bothering clashes of the weekend, for myself anyway. I do not know. A last minute decision is on the cards.


Clash 2

ARC STAGE

MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY –  alternative | indie | math-rock

VS

PX3 STAGE

WAKING AIDA –  electronic | rock | indie | instrumental | post-rock  progressive

WAKING AIDA all the way on this one. Sure; MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY blast out some solid, heavy math-rock, but WAKING AIDA have released a really impressive debut album and I’ll be damned if I am missing their set. Check out my review here.


Clash 3

ARC STAGE

JAMIE LENMAN – alternative

VS

PX3 STAGE

KARHIDE –  alternative | electronic | metal | post-rock

JAMIE LENMAN seems to be a big pull for a lot of people. I do not think I’ve ever heard his previous band, REUBIN and the material I’ve heard from his solo act is… well… OK. That tent is going to be packed though. I even saw a Facebook comment from Tim, who is KARHIDE, saying that he wished he was not clashing with JAMIE LENMAN. I reckon I’ll be supporting the real hard working talent that is KARHIDE though. I’ve seen him a few times and enjoy him every time . Good, heavy post-rock/metal with plenty of melody. I urge you to give him a try.


Clash 4

ARC STAGE

TALL SHIPS –  alternative | emo | indie | math-rock | punk | alternative | pop

VS

BEAR MAKES NINJA –  alternative | alternative | rock | math-rock

TALL SHIPS actually get better with every listen. I used to brush them of as a one-hit wonder (T=0) but have learnt to like them over time. However they clash with BEAR MAKES NINJA and I cannot wait to catch them live. A friend at last year’s ArcTanGent convinced me that, when BMN’s drummer took to the stage to jam with ASIWYFA, she was a famous jazz drummer. Once I got the truth and listened to BMN I got hooked. This is real fun math-rock, do not miss it.


 

CLASH 5

ARC STAGE

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT –  ambient | electronic rock | post-rock | space rock

VS

PX3 STAGE

THE BROKEN OAK DUET –  rock | instrumental

Well. I said that I would not be seeing GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT as I have grown somewhat bored of their output. They have some great tracks but they have started to blend into one, for me. However I must say that I am really into them live. They put on a great show. THE BROKEN OAK DUET are my recommendation for this clash. I’ve seen them twice this year and will see them again the day after ArcTanGent as I am playing a gig with them at the Worcester Music Festival. So I will be at the ARC stage to see GIAA.


Clash 6

ARC STAGE

MONO – post-rock

VS

SHIVER – alternative | electronic | experimental | instrumental

Unlucky, SHIVER. Clashing with one of the biggest third-wave post-rock bands. I’ve not seen MONO. I’ll be seeing MONO. However I know that a lot of post-rockers can find their blend of post-rock a little dull. So SHIVER should give your dancing bones a kick in the, erm, balls (???). I fact I might go and catch their set set and then finish up with MONO as they have the longer set. Either way, you are in good hands.


 

So that is it. Hope you enjoy your weekend as much as I intend to. Stay tuned for some ArcTanGent weekend follow ups next week.

 

 

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ArcTanGent Festival 2014 Clash Guide Pt. 1

ArcTanGent Festival is only in its second year, but is already becoming one of the biggest events for post-rock, math-rock and other experimental genres. It is the first festival that I have been to where I’m guaranteed to miss some incredible bands just because they clash with other incredible bands. So in an attempt to plan my weekend to minimise disappointment I’ve been brushing up on all the bands. Sad? Probably. Here is part 1 which looks at the clashes on the YOHKAI and BIXLER stages on Friday 29th. Here is the clash finder.

We have also created a Spotify playlist that has most of the acts included. That is 14 hours of music for you to engross yourself in!


 

Clash 1

YOHKAI STAGE

SUFFER LIKE G DID –  jazz | funk | instrumental | math-rock

VS

BIXLER STAGE

FLIES ARE SPIES FROM HELL – rock | ambient | instrumental | post-rock

The first clash of the weekend and also one of the most difficult decisions. Luckily if you prefer math-rock over post-rock (or visa-versa) you won’t have a problem. It is going to be a last minute decision, but I am currently pulled towards FLIES ARE SPIES FROM HELL for their epic post-rock stylings. We’ll see what my hangover tells me to do!

NOTE: There is a very slight overlap with ALPHA MALE TEA PARTY and MONSTERS BUILD MEAN ROBOTS who will be playing on the ARC stage.


 

Clash 2

YOHKAI STAGE

WE ARE KNUCKLE DRAGGER – alternative | metal | punk-rock | alternative-rock | groove-rock | math-rock | mathcore

VS

BIXLER STAGE

BIG JOAN – alternative | noise-rock | post-rock | punk | synth-rock

This going to come down to how heavy you like your music. I will be in the YOHKAI stage having my ears bludgeoned by the disgustingly sludgy WE ARE KNUCKLE DRAGGER. That pit is likely to make or break the rest of my weekend!

NOTE: There is a very slight overlap with MONSTERS BUILD MEAN ROBOTS and RUMOUR CUBES who will be playing on the ARC stage.


Clash 3

YOHKAI STAGE

LOST IN THE RIOTS –  rock | instrumental-rock | post-metal | post-rock

VS

BIXLER STAGE

OLYMPIANS – rock | drone | folk | indie | math-rock | pop

If you read my review of LOST IN THE RIOTS’ latest album you will be heading towards the YOHKAI stage to check them out. I should be going to see OLYMPIANS as I’ve not seen them and they are pretty damn cool, but LITR are so good that I am really tempted just to go and see them again, especially to hear some of the new material.

NOTE: There is a very slight overlap with RUMOUR CUBES who will be playing on the ARC stage. DIAGONAL start immediately after these sets end, so you might need to run!


Clash 4

YOHKAI STAGE

BATS – metal | rock | dance

VS

BIXLER STAGE

MEMORY OF ELEPHANTS – eclectic noise

Real easy decision for me. MEMORY OF ELEPHANTS are not to be missed and I’ll have seen BATS a few days before at The Flapper in Birmingham. If you prefer your music instrumental then you’ll be with me in the BIXLER stage, but BATS live show is guaranteed to be energetic, loud and in your face.


Clash 5

YOHKAI STAGE

PURSON – psychedelic-rock

VS

BIXLER STAGE

100 ONCES –  experimental | experimental-rock | instrumental-rock | math-rock | metal | progressive-rock | rock

I’ve been waiting to see 100 ONCES tear shit up for ages so I will be there watching and throwing myself around to their noisy math. I cannot say that I know much about PURSON, but if you want trippy you ought to get down to YOHKAI.


Clash 6

YOHKAI STAGE

ENEMIES –  rock | pop-rock | post-rock

VS

BIXLER STAGE

TELLISON – alternative | indie-rock | rock

Post-rock or Indie. It is an easy decision for me and I’ll be checking out ENEMIES, but if you lean more towards math than post you may want to check TELLISON out. They are just not for me.


Clash 7

YOHKAI STAGE

TERA MELOS – alternative | experimental | indie | math-rock | progressive | punk

VS

BIXLER STAGE

CLEFT – 2-piece | instrumental | math-rock | rock | post-rock

Ohhh, this clash hurts. If you like TERA MELOS then I am pretty sure you like CLEFT. I’ve managed to miss both bands live so I got a decision to make. As CLEFT are from the UK I am taking the chance to see TERA MELOS (and I am a gear nut so really need to see guitarist Nick Reinhart tap dance over all of his lovely pedals!)


Clash 8

YOHKAI STAGE

MAYBESHEWILL – alternative | instrumental | post-rock | rock

VS

BIXLER STAGE

EL TEN ELEVEN – rock | electronic | experimental | indie-rock | instrumental | post-rock

Originally nobody was clashing with MAYBESHEWILL, supposedly nobody wanted to clash with them. I am glad that has changed. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredible live. However they are far from my favourite band. If everyone was right about not wanting to clash with them then I’ll be the only person watching EL TEN ELEVEN. MAYBESHEWILL are touring their new album extensively though, so I recommend missing them at ArcTanGent and catching them elsewhere if you need to see them.


 

Next Wednesday: Part 2 looks at the clashes on the ARC and PX3 stage on Friday 29th.

Roundtable Review: Collapse Under the Empire – Sacrifice & Isolation

Postrockstar is no stranger to Collapse Under the Empire and you probably shouldn’t be either. The post-rock powerhouse duo from Germany have released either an album or EP in each year dating back to 2009 show no signs of letting up. ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ is their fifth studio album an is the follow up to  2011’s ‘Shoulders & Giants’ as  a two-part conceptual series. We’ve gone ahead and taken the album to task in this month’s roundtable to see if it could stand up to C.U.T.E’s track record of quality.

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With each new installment from Collapse Under The Empire we see these small little changes that have led us to ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’. The raw potential C.U.T.E always possessed has slowly and precisely been smelted into a finely crafted musical object. The production values and mixing process have steadily increased, the way they write songs ever so slightly refined to perfection. The soundscapes they create have gone from these small glimpses of environments into fully fleshed out musical realms of bleakness meets glimmer of hope. Make no mistake about it, this is the new high watermark for C.U.T.E. Like every album that has come before it, their latest work is so blatantly obvious their best work.

‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ is their fourth album and follow up to 2011’s ‘Shoulder & Giants’ as a conceptual effort. Sure there was a couple releases in between those albums, but pay no attention to them. Well, pay lots of attention to them, but right now we’re focusing on the culmination of a three-year musical journey for C.U.T.E. This album is massive in-depth and sound staging, but you probably already knew that if you were at all familiar with their work (and at this point you better be). ‘Massif’ shines as a Massif high point to the album (see what I did there?) while tracks like the title tracks as well as ‘A Broken Silence’ are just more C.U.T.E classics that fall in line with what I’ve come to love and expect from the band.

The deep synths playing ever so lovingly with distant swirling crescendos, the beats that utilize both live and electronic drives, the bleak overtones, the shimmering moments of desperation, the overbearing distress, They’re all here. It might all be a bit formulamatic at times, but like your favorite 1 AM comfort food from Dennys, you keep coming back for more because it just feels so damn right. And while I certainly don’t need carbs or deserts in my life anymore, the idea of being a post-rock enthusiast and not having Collapse Under the Empire in regular rotation is simply unfathomable. Another C.U.T.E classic, a must listen of 2014 and without question an album that earns a well deserved spot on my year end lists. – James

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https://i2.wp.com/i.imgur.com/ONcH7LM.jpgJames may like this album but, unlike him, I didn’t follow this band since their beginnings. I have a hard time getting into this primarily because of the thing James likes the most – The synth. It felt like some sort of 90’s movie trailer on the opening track  and it just never goes away. Every time I expect the band to go all-out-heavy-crescendo-whatever, it suddenly loses its thrill when the synth can’t keep up with the grunge. The keyboard can’t sound very gloomy when it’s practically identical to Van Halen’s ‘Jump’. I may be exaggerating, but that accursed keyboard is the only thing holding me back from loving this album as a brilliant, dark, and brooding piece of post-rock.

As for the rest of it, everything sounds like it’s recorded professionally, and I certainly love their sense of structure and composition. I was falling in love with the intro for ‘Lost’ with its almost industrial-sounding drums. The bassist is no slouch, no matter what’s going on. And the way they build up is well done, even if I don’t care for it. If they went in a more 65daysofstatic sort of direction, or even a sleepmakeswaves direction, I’d be much more content with this, but it has too little electronica for me to feel like it’s supposed to be there. I picture in my head the discomfort the rest of the band members go through when they try to tell the keyboardist that he doesn’t quite fit. So they just let him do his own thing, and essentially play on top of him. – Foofer

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This review comes from somebody who is a new listener to Collapse Under The Empire. By new I actually mean I’ve never really given them the time of day. Every track I have heard has been good, but none have pushed me to go out and listen to this band. So I somewhat reluctantly sat down to give their newest offering, Sacrifice & Isolation a spin.

Sacrifice opens the album and basically delivers what should be a favourite track. The melodies are wonderful; the EDM style build-ups are really well executed, and managing to maintain interest around the same motif for 8 minutes is pretty impressive. However it has not really done anything for me. I find it lifeless, somehow dull. Isolation, if anything, is worse. A meandering bore-athon that has basically caused me to switch off to the rest of the album on more than one occasion. The album proceeds in much the same way. Massif has a promising intro, but fits back into the mold of the previous track. Lost does the same, find a motif, play around with it for a bit with the same tired dynamics and techniques, finish the track.

I love this sort of music because it makes me feel something, unfortunately this doesn’t stir my emotions really. I think the production feels too clinical and robotic. It does not feel like there are two human beings behind it and that is a big turn off for me. Then we have track 5, Awakening. Holy shit! It has taken nearly half the album but here is something that makes me sit up and take interest. Parts rise and fall, tension mounts and then disappears without resolution, you are kept on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. Shame it just had to end, I really wanted it to go on and on.

From here on the album definitely picks up. The main reason is that there is an improvement in the dynamics that takes away from the clinical feeling of the production. Check out the album highlight, Stairs to the Redemption. The drumming and heavy guitar chords are a welcome relief to what has come before. The subdued track that follows, What The Heart Craves For, has some delay heavy noise elements that I really like. The Path is another great track that rises and falls with uplifting movements, as you would expect and possible tire of from myriad post-rock bands. In this context it is incredibly welcome.

I am going to make a grand assumption that this is probably not their greatest work and if a massive fan of their work disagrees then I think that generally C.U.T.E. are not for me. There are some really great tracks on the album though; it is a shame I had to trawl through the first half to find them.  Must listen: Stairs to the Redemption, The Path   – TenaciousListening

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Within the genre (and sub-genres) of post-rock, there aren’t really a lot of standout bands. Now, I don’t mean that as a way to say there aren’t many good bands, because obviously there are tons. What I mean is that in a musical style that’s defined in great part by usage of instruments only, it’s very hard to set yourself apart. There are countless numbers of bands doing the whole “cinematic” sound, and I like a great deal of them. Problem is, a lot of them sound very, very similar (well, maybe it’s not a problem, but you know what I mean). There’s a small handful of bands that, in my opinion, are doing something different, something that makes them stand out a little. That, to me, is the mark of a really great band. Explosions in the Sky does it, Godspeed You! Black Emperor & Sigur Ros do it, and if you ask me, Collapse Under the Empire does it.

Jumping back to the turntable.fm days, there were times where there wasn’t a lot of chatting going on, if there were just a couple of us in the room listening to tunes while we worked. Without fail, any time a C.U.T.E. song came on, you knew it was them. There was no question. In a sea of bands that are either trying blatantly to sound like other bands, or bands that not only wear their influences on their sleeves, but make a whole shirt of them, it’s a welcome change. As James said in far more eloquent terms than I can at the moment, this is a band that has been constantly evolving since day one, and well, the proof is in the pudding here. While I wouldn’t be so brazen as to say that this is leaps and bounds beyond previous material, it’s definitely a positive, and natural feeling, progression.

Where other bands do the “pretty but sad” thing, and do it well, C.U.T.E. is one of the few that can (appropriately enough, given the title of this album) really make the feeling of isolation sonically possible. Where other bands do “sad scene with snowfall”, they do “everything and everyone I love is gone”. Rather than the sense of loss from a doomed romance or something of that ilk, this is the soundtrack to the terror of abandonment, of being completely and utterly alone. There are moments of hope present, of starting anew (or “freedom”, as the band themselves have stated), but overall, it’s a dark and lonely record. The beauty crafted out of these feelings is palpable, and, like James, I suspect strongly that this will have a solid place on my year-end list. If i have one bone to pick with this album, it’s the intro to “A Broken Silence”. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the music, and just sound like the music from an 8-bit boss fight scene to me. Other than that rather small gripe, I think these two German lads have created something truly fantastic. – ShaneXedge

   

Inuit – Don’t Forget You’re Here Forever

a1491098777_2If you enjoy post-rock then you should like Inuit’s Don’t Forget You’re Here Forever. As you are here (at Postrockstar) reading this then I guess that box is ticked. So go forth and listen. I am struggling though. I cannot really get into this release and I just cannot put my finger on the reason why.

Let’s look into it. This release is a box ticker. Heavy, check. Ambient, check, Build ups, check. Reverb soaked, check. The Staybright is the perfect album opener. It kicks you in the nuts (metaphorically speaking, ladies) with some heavy tremolo based riffage, lays on some ambience, introduces some vocal chanting after a build-up and then drops some keys into the mix that makes the whole thing remind me of Maybeshewill. It is real strong and sets the scene for the rest of the album.

Okay, so I write reviews while I listen to the music in question and a review will chop and change as I listen more. I am starting to enjoy the album more as I give it time. So it is definitely a grower. It is a shame that music can be so disposable these days where people may stream an album or song; think it’s awful and just not bother with it. That is a whole other discussion though. I digress…

I think that Are You Taking Pictures Of My Stories? is probably my favourite track on the album. It is one of those that just seems to build and build right up to the end; moving from ambience and getting heavier and heavier as it goes. It is the also the only track, save one of the shorter interlude type tracks, that does not have any sort of vocal. I am pretty particular about vocals and I think these are the weak point of the release apart from those on I’m No Sun Expert and the guest vocals from Kenny Bates (Bianca) on Get That Face Off Your Face which has some great riffing which makes me think of And So I Watch You From Afar. This track is another highlight and delivers some good solid post-rock to your ears.

I think that is it, you know. It took me some time to get into this release because it is just a solid album. So nothing stood out straight away. Give it your time though and you’ll start to hear some of the subtle nuances that give me confidence that this band can build on what they have already done and really do something special. After numerous spins I am enjoying more and more. So definitely give it your time if you don’t click with it straight away.

     

Postrockstar May Recap

May Roundtable Review

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Those Amongst Us Are Wolves – This State Is Conscious

Reviewed albums

You Are An Explorer – You Are An Explorer (by Foofer)

Row Boat – Shallow Waters (by Tenacious Listening)

Montag – Trepezzi (by Foofer)

In Snow – Ef·fort (by James)

Row Boat – In Between (by Tenacious Listening)

We Came From The North – From Which All Things Depend (by Foofer)

Catacombe – Quidam (by James)

Body Hound – Rhombus Now (by TenaciousListening)

Her Name Is Calla – Navigator (by TenaciousListening)

Not Just to Drink and Dream – Aerial Shots (Reviewed by Foofer)

Waking Aida – Eschaton (reviewed by TenaciousListening)

Featured albums

A.Armada – Never Come Down From The Mountain

Larkahl – Journal

The Starlight Run – A Place To Land

Nanaki – Afterlight

Below A Silent Sky – 2014 EP

Earworm – Amber

Minion TV – Demons and Rarities

Interviews

Nathaniel Noton-Freeman (by Foofer)

Music Videos

Waking Aida – Glow Coin