Poltergeists: Week of October 3, 2016

Michael

Null Command - “Shutdown Warning”

On our recent trip to Victoria, BC, we had the awesome chance to see a lot of really great bands play. Null Command was one of the stand-out ones for me. A husband and wife duo that had me interested from note one. This brilliantly crafted minimal synthwave hits really hard live. It was cool to see it come together live because a lot of the elements that you hear here on the recording were unique and randomized. The vocal style on these tracks fits well in the eerie atmosphere that is left between the minimal beats.

Null Command is a minimal synth duo from Victoria, BC. Their only recordings are raw demos on their Bandcamp.

WIFE - “Native Trade”

WIFE is one of the great projects that came out of the Haxan Cloak-ian style of strange electronic darkpop. I really love when metal guys go electronic with their solo projects because there are often elements that really shouldn’t cross over that end up working so beautifully. WIFE isn’t a harsh electronics project by any means, but the textures of the sounds and the start-stop functions of “Native Trade” bring something to this style of electronic music that really appeals to me. The intensity of this track is in the buildup and the tension between the silences.

WIFE is the project of former vocalist/guitarist of the metal band Altar of Plagues. His new album Standard Nature is out now on Profound Lore Records. Also, check out this article / interview with Thump about the release.

Wes

Rooksfeather - “A Life of Warmth”

This is a fantastic release. Rooksfeather has a really interesting blend of influences; there seems to be bits of industrial, witch house, and synth pop in here, with occasional hints of noise and chiptune. This particular track has a nice, chill flow to it. It moves from moments of melancholy to moments of hopefulness effortlessly, building atmosphere through chopped up vocal samples, pads and slow moving percussion. The end feels somehow triumphant - not explicitly so, but under the surface - and it’s subtlety is very effective. Be sure to give the whole album a listen.

Rooksfeather is an electronic project from Vancouver, BC. Her latest release, Deep Nausea, is available on Bandcamp.

Ansome - “Poldark”

I was recently looking for stuff in the vein of Schwefelgelb and was turned on to this release from Ansome. While it is not exactly what I set out to find, it is still a fantastic listen. Ansome is working in the growing field of industrial techno crossover (or is it techno industrial?). Driving beats, evolving slowly over the course of the track, are built upon with heavy percussion and feedback loops. The music never feels boring; it evolves constantly and meaningfully. It’s ebbs and flows never feel forced, and it keeps your head moving from start to finish.

Ansome is an industrial techno project out of London. Their latest release, Stowaway, is available from Perc Trax on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of September 19, 2016

Michael

DJ Shadow - “Organ Donor (Christine Remix)

Christine posted this remix as part of a November 2015 release called Brand New Furies, which was a collection of remixes and collaborations. I had not heard the original DJ Shadow song before writing this article because the track is listed simply as “Organ Donor” on the Bandcamp page, but if you look at the album artwork it clearly states that it is a DJ Shadow remix. Christine’s style - which I would say is like Justice covering John Carpenter songs in the best way - really lends itself to this style of music. I love how they took the scratch and vocal elements of the original and brought it into the fold with the distorted, heavy beats that are typically in their songs. The song works incredibly well.

Christine is a French duo that has a Bandcamp full of great jams! Their latest single, Howling Wave, is a song that I play whenever I get the chance to DJ.

Seagrave - “Bonjour Tristesse”

Seagrave is a band that I found while rummaging through the Art of Propaganda Records Bandcamp, which is one of those labels that has a very closely curated style with a specific sound. This album has a very similar style to Harakiri For The Sky and I immediately added it to my wishlist for further listening. The guitars and the blend of hardcore, atmospheric black metal, and shoegaze hooked right into my recent obsession with the post-black metal genre. There is something in “Bonjour Tristesse” that makes me want to leave town forever and live in the forest. It lives in the atmosphere behind the melodic black metal guitar work and the longing of the vocals throughout the album.

Seagrave is the solo project of J.J. from Harakiri For The Sky. His debut album, Stabwound, is out now on Art of Propaganda’s Bandcamp.

Wes

Starkey - “Aphelion”

I’ve had Oddyssey Five, the album “Aphelion” is pulled from, on repeat since I saw that it came out. “Aphelion” is a beautiful and brilliant example of the release overall. Where most bass music I hear lately is heavy on trap influence, “Aphelion” takes a more gentle, thought out approach. Slow builds, deep bass, and stuttering pads are led forward by arpeggiating leads that evolve seamlessly over the course of the three minutes of the track. There’s no big drops; instead, we get soft moments of quiet where the bulk of the instrumentation falls away, leaving the pads to carry the atmosphere forward through the end of the song. If more artists operating in the future and bass music sphere can take Starkey’s approach, I’ll look forward to dipping back into the genre more often.

Starkey is a producer from Philadelphia, PA. His latest release, Oddyssey Five, is available on Bandcamp now from Saturate! Records.

Minimal Violence - “Houses”

This new track from Minimal Violence - released ahead of their new Night Gym EP - shows how much the duo has grown since 2015’s Heavy Slave. Where tracks from Heavy Slave evolved in what felt a fairly straight-forward direction, “Houses” feels carefully planned. The changes in percussion are less predictable and more impactful for it.The little hits of pads, the little plucks of bass, are blended expertly into a song that feels almost narrative. There’s a tension between the at times frantic feel of the percussion and the gentle swells of the synth elements. It’s a great teaser for the album, and I can’t wait to see what the full release brings.

Minimal Violence is a techno duo from Vancouver, BC. Their latest release, Night Gym, is coming out on 1080p Collection later this month.

Poltergeists: Week of September 5, 2016

Michael

Oathbreaker - “Needles In Your Skin

I have definitely written about Oathbreaker before, but their new album is coming out at the end of next month and the previews from it are crazy good. This will be their 3rd full-length album and the experience and experimentation that made the last album so great have definitely settled into a great blend of calm, damning moments and intense blasts of aggression. “Needles In Your Skin” starts off with a cathartic minute of reversed strings and clean - although pained - vocals that quickly devolve into the signature intensity that Oathbreaker brings to their albums. The song structures - notably the moments of calm resignations that are allowed to go just long enough to forget about the chaotic times - and the production value are some of the qualities that really set this album apart from 2013’s Eros|Anteros.  

Oathrbeaker is a hardcore band from Belgium and their third album, Rheia, will be out September 30th on the Oathbreaker Bandcamp and directly from Deathwish Inc.

FVNERALS - “Shiver”

FVNERALS is a doom / shoegaze / ambient metal band from Glasgow that was suggested to me when I was telling someone about the new Muscle & Marrow. The instrumentation in this track is carefully slow, which is something that I think is actually hard to pull off in a way that makes the track interesting and charged with the right amount of emotion. The guitars and the vocals contrast in a very signature way. As I went back through 2015’s The Path and 2014’s The Light, I picked up a few very distinct things about FVNERALS: The tone of their songs overall is very solemn and morbid; even when the vocals are operatic and beautiful. The tracks have a weight to them. The air feels heavy in the recordings and I love it.

FVNERALS has a new album coming out on October 14th called Wounds on The Native Sound Records.

Wes

Hante. - “Living in a French Movie”

I absolutely have not been able to stop listening to this track since Michael wrote about it. There is so much to love in the construction of this song - the way it starts, with those banging toms and soft pads, the way it builds with those plucking synths and reverbing snares, every moment of this song feels so intentional and so emotional.

Right away, you can feel the melancholy of the track. This is a song that doesn’t feel like it has hope left - the narrator is calling out, wanting without hope for things to be different. Love has, without reason, been snatched away, leaving only pain. Mirroring the feeling of the song as a whole, the track is abrupt; like the narrator's love, the track is snatched away with little to no warning. It’s a beautiful song, and the way the composition ties to the content is something I don’t feel like I hear enough. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.

Hante. is the solo project of Hélène de Thoury. Her latest release, No Hard Feelings, is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.

Essaie Pas - “Depassée par le fantasme”

I realized it’d been a bit since I checked in with Essaie Pas, and I have really been missing out on this release this year. Taking leads from synthwave, techno, and darkwave, Essaie Pas have a fairly unique sound. It while there are the hits of darkness in the bass progressions, and the vocals are drenched in reverb, it doesn’t exactly hew to any particular goth sort of label; instead, Essaie Pas, using string synths and tom fills familiar to any synthwave fan, build their own sound apart. This track in particular pulls nicely from a kind of minimal techno sort of feel. It builds slowly, morphing gently over the course of the song with just touches of vocals. The subtlety of the changes doesn’t mean this won’t get you moving though. It builds to a real drive by the middle of the songs, and that drive holds on for most of the track (with a bit of a breakdown to give it breathing room).

Essaie Pas are a minimal synth duo from Montréal, Québec. Their latest release, Demain est une autre nuit, is available on Bandcamp through DFA Records.

Poltergeists: Week of August 22, 2016

Michael

GosT - “Maleficarum”

Blood Music really knows how to pick out the haunting and dark outrun artists. GosT, who is often on tour with labelmate Perturbator, is spot-on with this music video in both vision and execution. It is a great way to present this style of music because when you see outrun videos you usually see a bunch of neon and futuristic skylines, but this is a lot closer to the version of the movie The Witch (2016) that I wanted: creepy, dark, and at times bloody. GosT does a good job of bringing distorted bass breakdowns, mixing them with a little bit of lo-fi synth, and then just punching it hard.  

GosT has a new album out September 30th on Blood Music called Non Paradisi. People are very stoked about it, and you should check it out.

Hante. - “Living in a French Movie”

Hante., who we have mentioned here before, is at it again with a great new music video to promote their EP No Hard Feelings. They’ve included the lyrics in the description of the video - which, if you are taking votes, is a much better way to do it than a goddamn lyric video - which is a great move for this song because the images in the video (showing a woman walking along a path who slowly starts to run through the forest, then later a car driving quickly through mountain roads) reflect the almost maudlin nature of the lyrics. The video is shot in the Pyrénées Mountains in France, but it could have easily been shot here in the Pacific Northwest. The trees and the beautiful lakes in the video make me want to run out of this office and up into the deep forest forever - which I think is the point of the video and the lyrics.


Nothing’s gonna happen
I’m sinking in a fantasy
If we love each other
Why can’t we be dreaming together?

Nothing’s gonna happen
I cannot stand reality
Does true love only exist?
I don’t want to live in a French movie.

The No Hard Feelings EP will be out September 6th on Synth Religion records.

Wes

Zanias - “Follow the Body”

The first track from Zoe Zanias’ solo project produces an interesting mix of responses from me. The music is both driving and danceable, but also almost relaxing in a way. While the percussion and bass push forward, the synthy string pads and Zanias’ vocal delivery pulls back, airy and thoughtfully paced; the contrast between the elements, rather than clashing, feels right.

It’s interesting - you definitely draw lines to previous work from Zoe Zanias. The vocal delivery isn’t so different from Keluar, and there is still sort of an EBM feel. However, where Keluar’s ties to EBM feel direct, Zanias feels like she’s pulling the parts of EBM she needs and discarding the rest, building a sounds that feels distinctly hers.

Zanias is the solo project of Zoe Zanias (Keluar/Linea Aspera). Her first release for this project, To The Core, will be released in September 2016 on Noiztank.

Chynna - “Reaper [prod. Park Ave]”

If you haven’t heard Chynna before, I don’t know why, but you’re really missing something. The production on this track is really fantastic; slow and moody, the sampled electric organ provides a great backdrop to Chynna’s fierce flow. Chynna has a diverse arsenal of cadences, but for the most part, she keeps it pretty consistent in “Reaper”. It feels purpose driven - she has something to say, and isn’t going to stop until it’s been said.

 

Chynna is a rapper from Philadelphia now based out of Brooklyn. Her latest release, Ninety, is available on Soundcloud.

Poltergeists: Week of August 8, 2016

Michael

Vinterriket - “Nächtens”

I have to admit that I stole this amazing find from Heathen Harvest this week - Patrick from Heathen Harvest has a really nice album review and brief band history up on their site now that I definitely urge you to check out - but I have a few things to say about the style of the track “Nächtens” from Vinterriket’s newest release Hinweg. There are so many classic influences in this track that are subtle and still very unique to the album. Dimmu Borgir’s debut album, For All Tid, has one of my all-time favorite opening tracks to an album - it is slow and pragmatic at times, taking on different forms through a few short minutes while still embodying one solid motion of sound - and I think that this track is the closest thing that I have found to that style of early symphonic black metal. The tone of the strings and the subtlety of the track, with a few short phrases - almost spoken - stands out against the signature ambient texture in “Nächtens,” and largely throughout the album. While there are more complex acoustic-guitar / traditional-folk driven tracks on the album, I believe that “Nächtens” really sets the tone for Hinweg, and the project.

Vinterriket’s newest album, Hinweg, is out now on the Russian label Kunsthauch and you can purchase it in many formats from their Bandcamp.

VALHALL - “Тили Тили Бом/Tili Tili Bom (ЈѴѕҬ ВӠӋӀЍЭ ҮѺЦ Edit)”

a Russian lullaby

VALHALL is rad as hell and you should buy everything they have out this very second, including their full length out on Storming the Base.

Wes

Makeup and Vanity Set - “Great Leader Has Fallen”

I don’t know how I haven’t already written about this; I’ve been listening to Makeup and Vanity Set’s Brigador, Vol. I over and over for a while now. While the whole thing is a lot of fun to listen to I really like the feel of “Great Leader Has Fallen”. The fast moving arpeggios at the beginning set up the tone of the song wonderfully; there’s a little bit of darkness, a little bit of nervousness. This tone is shifted by the pads and leads that follow, which add a sense of hopefulness - there is still that nervousness but it is tempered. The song drives you forward, and as you move forward the sense of hope builds and the dark, while still there, takes a back seat. I’ve noticed that one of the things I enjoy about synthwave acts is that despite whatever darkness the tracks carry, there is always this sense of triumph to the music, a sense of pulling through despite the odds; “Great Leader Has Fallen” carries that feeling through the bulk of the track as well.

Makeup and Vanity Set is a synthwave project from Nashville, Tennessee. Their latest release, Brigador, Vol. I, is available on Bandcamp.

S U R V I V E - “A.H.B”

I gotta say, with all the Stranger Things hype, it is nice to see other people getting as excited by SURVIVE as I am. I think much of what I said about SURVIVE before continues to hold true in “A.H.B”. The song is crafted beautifully; there are a all these great little transitions from phrase to phrase that move so seamlessly it almost feels improvised. The little plucks and pads meld together wonderfully - the sense of triumph mentioned in the above track continues through here. The elements are pared back to the necessities. Nothing feels unnecessary in “A.H.B”. Every swell, every hit of the metallic, almost trashy snare, feels carefully throughout.

S U R V I V E is a synthwave project out of Austin, Texas. Their latest release, RR7349, is available for pre-order on Bandcamp through Relapse Records.

Poltergeists: Week of July 25, 2016

Michael

Wreck and Reference - “Powders”

If there is one thing that I have taken away from writing this article twice a month for the last two years, it is that I really value an atmospheric narrative. After the newest Muscle & Marrow came out (and was amazing), I decided to check out some of the other releases on The Flenser label via bandcamp; the artwork for Indifferent Rivers Romance End by Wreck and Reference, which is a collage image with a lot of interesting elements, had me immediately curious. “Powders” is an ideal first track for me because it shows me that this project is going to be strange, genre-bending, and that the lyricist(s) took a lot of time to construct a space for these words to live in. The track takes form in an emotional recollection of a back-and-forth between partners, who have had a rather dramatic separation - but the emotion and the energy put into the retelling of this event escalate throughout the track (to the point of screaming), evoking very honest passages about the author.

One of my favorite passages from this song is “And you said what about the time outside? And I said what about the hours inside crumbling to dust?” because it reminds of the stagnation that can happen in relationships sometimes - when you plan and try to go outside and to be part of the world but just want to stay inside and be with each other (perhaps out of love and intimacy at first, but just out of habit and laziness later). This line is echoed in the last stanza of the song but - like in an argument - escalates to “And I said what about the times we spent rotting indoors, fusing and imploding, casting shade upon our lives.”

The music behind the lyrics, which is also very emotional and fitting to the scene, is a collection of piano, what sounds like a violin, and noise samples. Overall, it is a very cinematically constructed song. There is a tension and beauty to the way the song progresses, adding small things at first - maybe a swelling noise under the softer passage - to a full collection of emotionally driven melodies.     

Wreck and Reference is an experimental noise rock band based in Los Angeles, CA. Their latest album, Indifferent Rivers Romance Ends, is out now on The Flenser.  

Rïcïnn - “Orchid”

Rïcïnn is the newest project from Laure Le Prunenec, who you may recognize from her work with Öxxö Xööx or Igorrr, and is an incredibly vivid showcase of her many talents. I really love the balance of wonderfully operatic sections and growlingly evil moments in “Orchid,” which are set against the doom folk background of guitars and orchestral instruments. The vocals, at times, remind me of the operatic work that Myrkur often invokes in her songs because it is equally dark and beautiful - often adding a deep melancholia to each song. For a debut album, Lïan is a solidly constructed and executed album that belongs in everyone’s library.       

You can pick up Rïcïnn’s debut album Lïan from Blood Music’s bandcamp digitally and in a 6-panel Digipack CD format.

Wes

BLVCK CEILING - “Glass”

It’s been a while since I last visiting BLVCK CEILING, or really any of the bands that came out of the witch house explosion a few years ago (aside from M‡яc▲ll▲and V▲LH▲LL). BLVCK CEILING’s new release is a good reminder of why I had been so attracted to the genre when it first was blowing up, but also shows growth. Trap inspired beats - long kicks and snappy snares - are backed up by a heavy bassline that, while it isn’t overtly aggressive, forcing its presence to be acknowledged through its weight. Unlike a lot of what became the trope of witch house - bass saws so loud you knew the bars were in the red - BLVCK CEILING’s “Glass” feels well balanced. Each of the elements has room to breathe and create its effect without any other pieces forcing it out of the way.

BLVCK CEILING was witch house project; I’m not fully sure how to classify them anymore. Their latest release, Flowers, is available on Bandcamp.

Alter Der Ruine - “There Is No Water”

Oh hey, have you heard the new Alter Der Ruine yet? No? Well, listen, I’ll wait. Okay, you’ve listened to it right? Good. As you just heard “There Is No Water” is an excellent continuation of Alter Der Ruine’s slow and thoughtful evolution of their sound. The poppy, almost electroclash elements that worked so well for them in I Will Remember It All Differently continue, feeling maybe even a little poppier. This is wonderfully complimented by the guitar work of Brandon Neumaier, who picks up the funky elements of bassline and brings it through with sort of a nu-disco set of riffs.Michael Treveloni’s mildly haunting vocals are on point as always.

Alter Der Ruine is the electro phoenix that rose from the ashes of power noise. Their latest release, Gravity Hunts Us All, is available on Bandcamp, as well as this, their new single.

Poltergeists: Week of July 11, 2016

Michael

Harakiri for the Sky - "Calling The Rain"

Forever in search of new black metal sub-genres, I found a band that efficiently and powerfully bridges the gap between two of my favorite genres - black metal and melodic hardcore. I originally discovered Harakiri for the Sky through the post black metal tag on Bandcamp - which is an entire can of wonderfully weird music that I have yet to fully open - and found their music to be perfectly melancholy and aggressive. Starting with their second album, Aokigahara, I found the style and construction of every song so beautiful and particular to a set of influences. III: Trauma takes so much of what made Aokigahara such a dynamic album and escalates it both in production and quality. The songs are tightly executed, impacting every moment with a brutally sad hammer, chipping away at what Cascadian black metal bands like Agalloch or Ghost Bath have so rightfully sent to the top of my list. “Calling The Rain” is the ideal opening track: slowly building forward, setting the stage for what is about to come. There are so many emotions packed into the first eleven and a half minutes of this album - death, despair, self-hatred, blame - nothing is spared. I am anxiously awaiting the July 22nd release date.

You can pre-order Harakiri for the Sky’s new album III: Trauma from Art of Propaganda Records through their Bandcamp.

La Dispute - "Hudsonville, MI 1956"

La Dispute so accurately fills the void that emotional hardcore bands like Have Heart or Verse (which are both currently inactive) have left. “Hudsonville, MI 1956” is an entire world built in four short minutes. The storytelling in this song is incredible - there are so many lines in the lyrics that are poetic in their nostalgia. I have never been in a tornado, but through this song I can picture the horror of the experience vividly. The music behind the lyrics, equally important to the feel of the song, is so accurately impactful - both beautifully melodic and full of great moments of aggression. Each instrument has its own space and is spotlighted with great talent. I wish that more people would focus on this style of storytelling in their music - it is so honest and the imagery is powerful. Take the first stanza as a brief example: “There are bridges over rivers, there are moments of collapse, there are drivers with their feet on the glass, you can kick but you can’t get out, there is history in the rooms of the house.”

La Dispute is a melodic hardcore band from Grand Rapids, MI. You can pick up their 2014 album Rooms of the House on their Bandcamp page.

Wes

Lakker - "Maelsantkering Gating"

This song moves slowly. It starts with an aural premise and carries it through, building from a series of simple clicks and pads into more driven and weighty percussive elements. Bells, or maybe some form of improvised struck metal, rings out a tone to accentuate the pads and tones of the percussive elements. It seems simple, but it is compelling. The simplicity lends itself well to the weight of the track, and when new elements - vocal stutters, twitching synth lines - are introduced they feel more impactful; the space they take up is noticeable immediately.

Lakker is an electronic project based in Berlin, Germany. Their latest full-length, Struggle & Emerge, is available on Bandcamp.

Proux - “Just For Me (Original Mix)”

Sometimes I just want to turn something on that is going to cheer me up. This track makes me want to dance around, smiling, and not thinking about all the awful garbage that has been happening over the past few weeks, months, years - however long your ruler for despair is. Proux does a good job of pulling in elements from disco and juke, putting together a funky, dancey track built of electric piano, vocal sampling, and slappy bass lines. While the track is short, and ends a little abruptly, while it’s going, it goes strong.

Proux is a nu-disco project from Tijuana, Mexico (according to their Soundcloud at least). Their latest release, Just For Me (Single), can be found on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of June 29, 2016

Michael

i hate sex - “Happy Anniversary”

i hate sex is a band that I found a few days ago on a record label compilation. I have probably gone through their first album, Circle Thinking, over a dozen times and am still completely lost in it. It was really hard to find just one track to write about on this powerful debut. So many of the songs are catchy and aggressive while still maintaining an almost uncomfortable level of honesty. The guitars are wonderfully melodic and contrast in just the right way with the screaming, emotionally charged vocals. If you have a few minutes, even if you are not into the band’s sound, go through the lyrics for every song and let them soak in for a while. “Happy Anniversary” is a great example of this: “If you died I wouldn’t be light, but I wouldn’t be heavy anymore. Happy anniversary” is the tag on the end of the song, repeated a handful of times.

i hate sex is a screamo band from Edmonton, Alberta. You can pick up their most recent album, Circle Thinking, directly from their Bandcamp page.

Technophobia - “Negative Space”

Technophobia has a really great sound. Analogue minimal synth, EBM bass lines, and a great darkwave vocal style, all rolled into one tight package. The first glimpse from their new album, “Negative Space,” is a poppy, brilliant dance track that definitely will spread pretty quickly through the different clubs here in Portland. It hits all of the right areas of both markets in my mind. The vocals are distinct and clean and the synth work is catchy and varies nicely throughout the song. I am excited to hear the Alter Der Ruine remix on this single because I can see their style blending well with the original track. This single is only available - on vinyl (with digital download) - via the Working Order Records website, and all proceeds from the release are being donated to Life Pieces To Masterpieces, which is an art-based charity.

Technophobia is a darkwave/EBM band based in Washington D.C. The Negative Space 12” Single is available via Working Order Records.

Wes

Kindest Cuts - “Cold Eyes”

When I first heard “Cold Eyes”, I kept getting the feeling that I’d heard it before. I listened over and over, started searching the lyrics, wondering if it was a cover. It one hundred percent sounds like your favorite song whose name you just can’t quite recall.

But it wasn’t a cover, it is just my new favorite song. Perky synth bouncing along, held up by a fast moving baseline and excellent drum programming, and a vocal delivery that is rarely matched by modern synthpop bands in my view. The whole song has charisma; you can feel the power of performance and it’s not a stretch to imagine Kindest Cuts putting on a great show based on the character of their recorded performance.

Kindest Cuts is a synthpop and post-punk project from Winnipeg, Canada. Their latest release, Factotum, is available on Bandcamp.

Skuggsjá - “Skuggsjá”

Skuggsjá mixes traditional and folk instrumentation with influences for metal to a really fantastic effect. While this is not uncommon in metal now, the traditional instrumentation serves an additional purpose here; the album this track is from, A Piece for Mind & Mirror, serves to tell the story of Norway’s history through its instruments and languages. The band mixes modern Norwegian, Norse, and even Proto-Norse for the lyrics and spoken word elements.

The music itself is really fantastically executed. The heavy guitars and drumming is paired well with the folk instruments. You never really feel like there’s a disconnect between the styles; they are blended together organically, and provide an emotional depth I think it may have been hard to achieve with just one or the other.

Skuggsjá is Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved and Einar Selvik of Wardruna. Their album, A Piece for Mind & Mirror, is available on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of June 13, 2016

Michael

Autogen - “NFx2”

Latvian producer Kaspars Kalniņš is no stranger to the noisier side of music; he formerly released under the name Rosewater, which I will inevitably cover here in due time. “NFx2” is an interesting track because it is a collaboration with Erica Synths, a modular synthesizer manufacturer in Latvia. The crazy modular, bitcrushy noise elements that filter through this track work incredibly well. If the noises were by themselves, I couldn’t say that I would love listening to them, but with the syncopated beats and different bass elements, the track really comes together. This is not to say that this song sticks out from the rest of the album though; tracks like “Sub Terra” and “Momentuum” have a lot of really unique sounding noise elements mixed with a strong, driving rhythm section.

Autogen’s newest release, Antigen, is available now on the Audiotrauma Bandcamp page.

Letzte Ausfahrt Leben - “Obsession

Letzte Ausfahrt Leben (German for: Last Exit Life) is a rhythmic noise project that has a distinct atmosphere underlying every track. The faster, more traditionally noise tracks are intense and uncompromising. “Obsession,” however, is my favorite track from the Without Control album because it shows a large amount of restraint in the way that old Manufactura would. The album is brutal. It is unrelentingly crafted rhythmic noise. But this track, slow and somber throughout, is a beautiful step away. While Without Control is only the second album released on Germany’s Raumklang Music, Letzte Ausfahrt Leben has had more than a few independent releases. This album, however, shows a lot of growth in sound and production value. It is a lot cleaner than most of the previous releases in terms of sound quality.

Letzte Ausfahrt Leben is the solo project of Nina Heibling. Without Control is her second full-length album out on Raumklang Music in Germany.

Wes

Vainaja - “Kultti”

Usually when I’m listening to metal, I can’t get into the stuff where vocalists are trying to go as low as the human throat possibly can. For some reason, despite this vocal style, I’m finding Vainaja a lot of fun to listen to. It’s interesting; there’s nothing particularly special about this band. Much of it feels very typical, but it is done so well within its self-set boundaries that I can’t help but rock my head along to the slow, heavy riffs.

One thing I can say sticks out to me with this group, however, is commitment to a theme. Their album is based around the idea that they’re an evil cult from the 19th century Finnish country-side that was supposed to have been burned on a church altar, and that the album is the long lost gospel of the cult’s leader. A commitment to theatrics can be commendable when it adds to the tone of the music, and it certainly does here.

Vainaja is a Finnish doom metal group. Their latest album, Verenvalaja, is available on Bandcamp.

Patterns - “Fireface”

This is the week of music that is just fun to listen to apparently. Fireface is a poppy, disco-inspired track. Synths, guitars, and belted vocals work in unison to create a slow track with a great groove to it despite its slow tempo. I really enjoy how Patterns mixes different types of instrumentation; in one phrase, the bass is big and synthy, in others it is a more restrained bass guitar. Guitars are complemented by electric pianos and pads. I’ve listened to this track so many times, that I have to buy it before I can listen to it again; that’s how much I have been loving the upbeat feel of this track.

Patterns is a indie-pop/nu disco group from Costa Rica. Their latest release, Shout EP, is available from their Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of May 30, 2016

Michael

Melted Cassettes - “Purity & Pain”

Noise is a genre that I am becoming increasingly interested in and very much still discovering. Melted Cassettes is a good example of the kind of noise that I can immediately get behind. “Purity & Pain” is a beautifully chaotic song. Admittedly, if the song was only the first 50 seconds over and over again, I would have a hard time listening to it, but it breaks and doubles over on top of itself in a way that keeps the song moving forward with different drum patterns and increasingly more intense vocal parts. It is not often that bands are able to translate this kind of aggression and energy through the recording process. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to see live.

This track is much different from previous Melted Cassettes material available on the Cryptic Passage Records Bandcamp. I really love it. I hope the next album is more along these lines. The old material is also very good but tends to be more ambient and experimental.

I was able to get an update from the band recently. The album, Omega, that “Purity & Pain” will live on is in the mastering phases of production now and is slated to be released later this year on Cryptic Passage Records on CD and Vinyl.

Clipping. - “Work Work (Feat. Cocc Pistol Cree)”

This week, after returning from an event, Wes brought up Clipping., which I hadn’t heard (despite the fact that they have my favorite remix on the Youth Code A Place To Stand EP). I usually leave the rap for Wes to talk about because he has far more experience in the genre, but I am crazy about this album. “Work Work (feat. Cocc Pistol Cree)” takes a minimal, ant-zen-style noise approach to the music while still throwing out hip-hop-inspired beats and Odd Future-esque vocals. This is what I was hoping for when everyone was talking about Death Grips being experimental and super heavy. The use of obscure-sounding samples is something that Clipping. makes sound natural and tolerable over each track on their debut album CLPPNG. I think that it is great that these kinds of influences are spreading into the more popular genres - I mean, this album came out on Sub Pop Records (home of Sleater-Kinney and Iron & Wine…) and has 7 high-quality, equally experimental music videos.     

Clipping. is a LA-based group whose debut EP came out in June of 2014 on Sub Pop. Their Bandcamp page has a ton of cool stuff and I suggest you go and check that out.

Wes

BADBADNOTGOOD- “Time Moves Slow (Feat. Sam Herring)”

This new Badbadnotgood has me feeling some kinda way. If you’re a long time reader, you know I got love for BBNG, and this track exemplifies some of the big reasons that I love this Canadian quartet.The instrumentation is so minimal; the guitar strums occasionally to the right; it registers subtly and soulfully through its light usage, complemented by a warbling electric piano sitting to the left. Front and center we have the bass guitar bumping along to the excellent drumming. The instrumentation creates a wonderful, defeated sort of happiness, and leaves space for the great vocal delivery from Sam Herring (Future Islands). Herring’s performance comes across as painfully honest, and sitting in the space of the subtle instrumentation, it has an emotional power to it that I miss in much of the music I hear.

BADBADNOTGOOD is a jazz and hip-hop inspired quartet from Toronto, Ontario. Their latest release, IV, comes out July 8, 2016.

Muscle and Marrow - “Light”

Muscle and Marrow recently released their new album, Love, and let me tell you, I had a really difficult time deciding which track I wanted to write about. It’s a beautiful album, and I really recommend you listen to the whole thing.

That said, I did have to pick a track, and after much listening, “Light” took the day for me. The track is as beautiful as it is haunting. Kira Clark’s vocal delivery sits atop a soft drone; slow and heavy drums are complemented by the slow strum of the guitar. Most of the time the guitar is soft, punctuating the beginning of a new line. It disappears into the bridge before a heavy attack; as quickly as it hits it’s gone, again working as punctuation for Clark’s excellent vocals. As the final moments of an excellent album, “Light” really hits with a huge emotional force, leaving a lasting impression. If the rest of the album didn’t make you want to listen again, “Light” will.