Sal Klita Blogger | Muzik impressions

Sal Klita Blogger

Wednesday, May 28

Arborea 2008...They have built a time machine...

Normally, a band has to find their feet before really hitting stride, however, Arborea aren't your average group. Like The Band, which they share a certain woody charm with, this is a band that has landed fully formed. Where The Band did the Rag Mama Rag, Buck and Shanti Curran make beautiful, timeless albums that seem to almost make time freeze like the winter stopping streams. And if you think that's flowery, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. This is a band that demands you get your poetic hat on.

If the first album had something of Pagan sexuality about it, then this album continues in the same way, only this time, with the help of the sirens. 'Arborea', slowly fades in with a cinematic peer through the mist with the creepy Forwarned before melting into the breathtaking Red Bird. If Forwarned was the opening credits, then the opening dialogue of Red Bird really sets the tone. With some cello help from Helena Espvall of psychedelic folkies The Espers, the earthy strings, coupled with the rootsy pickings of the Currans, are a marriage made in heaven.

Many folk LPs are intent of doing little more than listening to Nick Drake albums. Of course, very few match their influence. However, Arborea seem to drag influences from every corner and twist and forge them into their own unique shapes. There's drones, the ghost of Smithsonian Folkways field recordings, Celtic music, murder balladry, psychedelic backward guitar, even the leafy weirdness of Goldfrapp's 'Felt Mountain' can be heard in some of Shanti's delivery.

If you think that folk music, which this undoubtedly is, is a lesson in real ales and cardigans, you couldn't be more wrong. Arborea are a band that, on record at least, aren't afraid to get naked and draw blood. There's a toughness in their sound that says 'don't mess'. This isn't a band that will fist-fight you in the street, but rather, cast a spell that will leave you in the forest - lost. I'd like to say that they are in fact in league with a band of demonic witches who will cast a wicked spell on you if you don't buy this album as it's that good. However, amongst the sinister magick is some truly wonderful, sensual, hip-shaking twang.

If this album was released on some obscure label in the early seventies, you'd be stumping up £300 for it. Black Mountain Road has a timeless quality... it could be a Joe Boyd production... it could be found on a discarded reel-to-reel in the middle of some remote outpost of the Hebrides... it's a staggering track. There's something of the Watersons about this record. There's something of Pentangle. I can't rate this highly enough! In short, you can't live without this album. It's the way albums are supposed to be - exciting, beguiling, enchanting, intriguing - quite simply, it's superb and needs a place in your home now. - By



Wednesday, May 14

Isengrind/Twinsistermoon/Natural Snow Buildings - "The Snowbringer Cult" 2008...Amazing piece of art.

Enter the Snowbringer Cult. Lo, behold the great arrival. Over the course of several private press releases, all of which will see much needed CD reissues later this year, and the gone-in-the-blink-of-an-eye "Laurie Bird" CDR that we released in early February '08, the music and artwork of Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte has become the stuff of legend. Such is the case despite the fact that the amount of people who have actually been fortunate enough to acquire physical copies of these wondrous releases numbers in the mere low hundreds. "The Snowbringer Cult" then, in all of its epic glory, is what you might call an entirely necessary and long overdue coming out release by France's mighty Natural Snow Buildings. The album is composed of two jam-packed discs of brand new material recorded in the final months of 2007, the first being a split between the duo's solo projects: Isengrind (Gularte) and Twinsistermoon (Ameziane). Here, the pair's tendency to occupy the full 80 minute capacity of the CD medium proves ideal, as both solo projects effectively have a full 40 minutes in which to sketch their respective sonic visions.
Disc one begins with the exotic ethnodrones of Isengrind, with Gularte transporting us to some blasted bazaar where Eastern strings, haunted vocals and a marvelous universe of shaken and beaten percussion emanates from every dark corner of the windswept streets. "To Ride With Holle" could be a merging of the resonant clatter of "Empty Bell"-era Pelt with the enchanted peaks of the Taj Mahal Travellers' bleary eyed beachside reveries. Elsewhere, Gularte presents us with tribal landscapes that wouldn't be out of place on the most captivating of Sublime Frequencies releases, as is the case on "Wooden False Face." Ever the chameleon, throughout her half of the split Gularte takes us to deep, dark places, such as the barren netherworld of "SunDusk Wand," as well as the bright, blue summits found in her magnificent closing piece "Anima Sola."

"To Ride with Holle"
"Sun Disk Wand"

"Kingdom of the Sea"

Emerging from the ashes of Isengrind's lush soundworlds are Mehdi Ameziane's own solo flights as Twinsistermoon, which begin with the keening, sprawling "Amantsokan," a truly mesmerizing dirge. It is with "The Spears of the Wolf" however, that the course of this split album is wonderfully altered. Here, Ameziane channels the most affecting qualities of 70's British folk music with wondrous, transportive results. Ameziane's take on the folk song is reminiscent of the pastoral diddies of Vashti Bunyan orperhaps some long lost Linda Perhacs or Anne Briggs recording, all plaintive nylon strings and warm, whispered voices. It is thus that the Twinsistermoon half of the split oscillates effortlessly between two seemingly disparate styles: that of the nostalgic,crestfallen folk song ("Spells," Water Barrier," "Kingdom of the Sea") and that of the slow burning drone epic ("Order of the Dreamt," "Bones Memories," "Understars") - no small feat indeed. For the album's colossal third installment, Ameziane and Gularte join forces under the Natural Snow Buildings moniker for the entirety of disc two. It is here that all of thediversity and compositional prowess evidenced by the pair's solo recordings coheresinto the remarkably refined and singular NSB sound. "Resurrect Dead on Planet Six" kicks things off, a horde of screaming, lost specters howling across one thousandendless starry nights. On "Ongon's Rattle," a doomed mass gathers for a ritualprocessional, with Ameziane and Gularte's moss-laden forest chants floating atop awistful, rhythmic undertow that is evocative of the best qualities of early Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the rest of the Constellation Records roster.

"Resurrect Dead on Planet Six"
"Ongon's Rattle"

After the sunlit drift of "Inuk's Song," Ameziane and Gularte unleash in the title track what is undoubtedly one of teir most compelling compositions to date. A deluge of frenzied woodwind tones givesrise to a blasted sea shanty lament driven forward by collapsing synth lines, boomingpercussion and increasingly urgent, searing blasts of pure bliss drone guitar. The enigmaticforest dwellers raise their voices again on the shambling, reverent "Gone," and, later,"Salt Signs" continues the beautiful trajectory established by the title track with itsimpossibly towering summits of synth and string drones that are gradually tempered bykraut-inflected percussion and drifting, rhythmic guitar work. Later still, "The Desert Has Eyes" finds a tribal raga positively eviscerated by blistering sheets of pure whiteoutfeedback and cascading sine waves. The album ostensibly closes with an ocean ofelegiac organ tones woven into a tight coda. However, an emphatic exclamation pointto the monster that is "The Snowbringer Cult" occurs with the album's hidden track,wherein an utterly levitating torrent of pounding percussion, hummed vocals andpost-Flying Saucer Attack fuzzbox guitar attack scream out into the void.If this seems like a lot to take in - it surely is, but such is the nature of the Natural Snow Buildings cosmos. Enter the Snowbringer Cult. Lo, behold the great arrival.

By the lable


Tuesday, May 13

Ulaan Khol...My new addiction

For many, just knowing this is a brand new Steven R. Smith (Mirza, Thuja, Hala Strana) project will be enough to send them running to their nearest source to spend some hard earned cash on this recording. The good news is they won’t be at all disappointed. And for everyone else, for whom Smith is either an unknown or someone of interest until now, this incredible CD ought to be mandatory listening. From the beautifully crackling opening notes, it’s clear this is unabashedly a guitar record. And not just any guitar record, but a heavy and blissful psych guitar record. Smith is at one with his guitar, painting strange aural landscapes, strangling warbly melodies, and building each component into a masterful whole. As soon as the first track fades out with gently echoing percussion, the second blasts in and announces this as Smith’s most purely rock offering in ages. A full on power trio track, its heaviness is a delight, and easily rivals any of the best instrumental guitar rock of the last two decades. The remaining seven tracks dispense with the drums for the most part, and so there’s a sense that after climbing the peak of the second track, the rest is an exploratory and leisurely walk down the mountain. Subtle organ washes appear, and much of the record has a nice drone underlying it. Yet the consistent thread is clearly Smith’s guitar, and even in the quieter more meditative moments, his blazingly fuzzed out and impassioned playing is ever present.

Listen 1

The lack of ego on display, consistent with Smith’s aesthetic, is once again incredibly refreshing. The record’s allegiances fall squarely within his usual purview of folk, drone, and rock, but it stands out as a paean to the guitar in all its expansive, psychedelic glory. “Heave the Gambrel Roof”, Smith’s latest Hala Strana offering was an absolute beauty of a different sort, and must have been difficult to top. This one does it with a flick of the wrist, as if he were just putting in another day on the job. But despite suggestions of a workman-like approach, there is a sheer joy in this music that will be apparent to anyone who samples its treasures. And the best part of all? Smith has conceptualized this particular project as a trilogy with part II to drop in the Fall. I have no doubt this will loom large on many year end lists for 2008, and it’s plain to see why.

By Foxy Digitalis

Throughout his career as a solo artist, and through membership with the celebrated ensembles Thuja and Mirza, Steven R. Smith has had a hand in creating some of the most compelling and singular instrumental psychedelic music of the past ten years. Smith's latest project, Ulaan Khol, moves beyond the Eastern European-inspired sources and scales employed by his work as Hala Strana towards an approach alternately true to his personal musical lineage and in a realm beyond any pre-existing work. As Ulaan Khol, Smith digs in deep with a palette of drums/guitar/organ to craft a monolithic & expansive free form, feedback-heavy atmospheric din that bonds the disparate realms of Fushitsusha and High Rise with Popul Vuh and Flying Saucer Attack.

As Ulaan Khol, Smith has planned a maximalist three-part suite, 'Ceremony.' In the first installment of the trilogy, I, the tone is overwhelming bleak as the pieces (all untitled) caterwaul, moan and crumble. Dripping with basement doom, Ulaan Khol's cosmic histrionics emanate with the raw essence of White Light/White Heat jettisoned by Harmonia's amorphous drifts.

By The Lable

Listen 2


Wednesday, May 7

Fleet Foxes: Sun Giant of my fave these days...

“A very smart and gifted friend of mine told me once that music is a kind of replacement for the natural world… Once the world became commonplace, mapped, and conquered, that mystery left our common mind and we needed something to replace it with and then came along music. I think she’s right, music is magic to me, transportative and full of wonder in a way that I have trouble getting from the actual natural world. All the human things that make the natural world so hard to connect with just aren’t there with music.”

For singer Robin Pecknold it’s clear this very ethos is translated directly into the sound of his band, Fleet Foxes. They are the latest act to emerge from the prosperous Seattle scene that, in the past 12 months, has produced the delectable Grand Archives, Tiny Vipers and The Cave Singers.

This five-track Sun Giant EP, the band’s first widely-available release in the UK, starts as it means to go on with a one-minute-thirty choral chant before the pluck of a mandolin enters, as if inviting us into a medieval province. Earthy finger-picked acoustics and plucky electric guitar lines provide the foundation on songs such as ‘English House’ where Pecknold’s lyrics - like a medieval poet writing intricate winding sentences about the villagers and their gooses, ploughs and ghosts - swim amongst Grizzly Bear-like thick harmonies. The song quickly develops to a canter with rolling tom-drums – “You go with your two feet will, down through the cold lane there to Brighton, a country house a liar and a louse live there” sings a vivid Pecknold – before pausing for further reverberated chant and returning to a floating, genteel trot. The classy production duties courtesy of Phil Ek (Built To Spill, The Shins, Band of Horses) are evident as he once again polishes this creative group’s raw ideas, adding trademark reverb and echo along the way. But Fleet Foxes can’t just be lumped into the cosmic-pop territory of BoH or My Morning Jacket, for they fit a more eclectic mould occupied by acts such as Midlake, Yeasayer and orchestral-pop collective Pine Top Seven.

Fundamentally, Fleet Foxes’ approach takes popular song back 40 years to a point where music sounded uncomplicated and fresh. Simple and beautiful. Even though most songs here last nearly five minutes, they never drag. There is always an interesting piece of instrumentation fading into and out of earshot. The strong melody behind ‘Drops In The River’, for example, is something Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would have been proud to have sung as it builds organically, up and up, to reach a vibrant pinnacle of instrumentation and intricate vocal harmonies. Highlight ‘Mykonos’, with its impressionistic lyrics and unforced melody, builds, yet again, to a dramatic breakdown gripping the listener to chants of “Brother you don't need to turn me away, I was waiting down at the ancient gate” accompanied by dense harmonies. It’s more like two songs in one, with elements of baroque composition interspersed. Closer ‘Innocent Son’, a sparse acoustic number, contains shades of a bottom-of-the-bottle brooding Ryan Adams that does away with conventional song structure, like a sobering strum.

Fleet Foxes are a welcome arrival representing music, in the modern day, as an outlet just to be emotional - a place where original but melodic imagination and structure can flow. Rich and deftly arranged, this is a confident and crafted appetiser for what is set to be a captivating debut album when released in June.

Review by Drowned in Sound

Sunday, May 4

Straight to you...

The Clientele...Burn me out...One more time...