Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paavoharju - Ikkunat näkevät

Ikkunat näkevät is a brief collection of rare tunes and alternate takes from one of Finland’s outsider forest collectives. Paavoharju’s previous two LPs burst with imagination, extracting syrup from trees and turning it into blissful psychedelic pop and folky toy-tronica with male and female Finnish vocals. The band's edgy but gentle sound is entirely unique and mesmerizing, yet decidedly odd, like Bjork and The Sugarcubes trying to pull off a Broadcast and Focus Group record. The same sound is on offer here, but on the whole it's not nearly as intriguing as on the full records. Three tracks are reworked versions of some of the group's more memorable tunes, notably "Kevätrumpu" and "Aamuauringon tuntuinen". The familiarity of the hooks contained in these mutant versions glues the EP together, but if you've heard these before and aren't an obsessive fan, they are fairly similar to the originals. Paavoharju usually have a dark shadow lurking behind the smiling face of their songs, but the newer tracks here feature a more blissed out take on the dreamworlds they love flying around in. The title track is more of a traditional ballad featuring violin and piano as well as hand-on-heart male vocals, grounding the spacecraft for three minutes in rural, Finnish folklore. Overall, this EP is a digestable twenty minutes describing what these ascetics can do, and a lovely place to begin exploring some of Finland's more unusual groups.

Paavoharju: Ikkunat näkevät by Fonal Records

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Donato Wharton - A White Rainbow Spanning The Dark

An intricate, after hours foray into ambient expertise. Read my full review, or read this snippet:

The sonic territory is somewhat akin to the solo work of Aidan Baker, but Donato Wharton is more interested in the details than in melody or ambient propulsion. Tracks like “Breath Held”, graced by gong like plucks, white tones, amplifier gain and solitary guitar ambling, may be spartan, but their sonics are intelligently designed and highly evocative. These pieces feel like reflections of the human experience, rather than edgeless depths and clouds. As a result, the interacting creatures and winds of White Rainbow feel more like arctic shorelines than descriptors of arctic shorelines: memories grafted onto the backs of storm petrels.

Donato Wharton / Ink Mountains (Full Track) by Serein

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beware of Saftey - Leaves/Scars

I wrote a review again. This time it was for the beloved Beware of Safety. Here is an excerpt:

Throughout Leaves/Scars, the bass playing is virtuous and versatile, and contributes a new aspect to the band: a sense of humor. This new levity is a welcome buffer between the album's emotional highs and evocative rock conversations. A soft but chipper bass riff introduces the playful “Crooked Nails For Catching Skin”. Eventually it is joined by an intelligent shimmery guitar line and a pair of expressive melodies. The opening riff almost sounds like something one makes up the first time one picks up a bass; but once the drums are added, and the song evolves, it's impossible to imagine a different phrasing. This track is the album's most exciting, as each section is in constant motion. The rhythms have bounce, the guitar melodies morph, and the playing sounds urgent and emotional.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Plaid compose music for robot band

Extract from composition: 'Glide' recorded and filmed at Gasworks winter 2008

Monday, August 1, 2011

Noveller - Glacial Glow

I wrote a full review of Glacial Glow here. I always want to route for the female artists doing something different, and fortunately Noveller is getting better with every album.

After an overall presentation of slow motion post rock and icy but vivacious drones, “Waxwing” is the experimental gem. Scrambled cetacean calls reveal themselves to be lost violins and reversed, reverbed guitar plucks. A new movement enters with a flurry of looped eccentricities, guided by (possibly) a cello and bolstered by more high-neck guitar busy work. It invokes microorganisms or perhaps a flock of wintering birds (the song’s namesake) all feasting on a leafless berry tree. Sarah Lipstate then lets the listener down gently like a sinking hot air balloon with “Ends”, a simple and earnest conclusion.