Poltergeists: Week of January 9, 2017

Michael

Mesarthim - “Type III”

Epic, depressive, symphonic with space imagery and synthesizers? Yeah, I’ll take some of that, please. Bandcamp did a great article on Mesarthim wherein the band expressed the need for imagery and emotion in their music. Space and its void became a recurring theme in their music, and I think that it definitely lends an interesting angle to the sound that is well within a set wheelhouse, but specifically its own. The grand nature of the guitar sounds mixed with the choirs and synths lower in the background makes a very full composition of both large halls of reverb and emptiness. In the breaks, where the guitars are gone, and maybe just a piano is playing, you can really see the many talents of the duo.

Type II (E.P.) is one of many releases available on the Mesarthim Bandcamp page.

Mortiis - “En Mørk Horisont”

Mortiis, who I will always associate with great industrial songs like “Marshland” and “Spirit in a Vacuum,” has re-issued his first few albums on Bandcamp, and they are wonderful. It is a really fascinating look at the type of dungeon synth music that was coming out in the early 1990s. Many of the dungeon synth elements would, of course, make it onto intro tracks and various filler elements on notable black metal albums of the time, but to hear a full composition of those influences is, to me, very interesting. There is a mysticism that I apply to the sounds, which I understand is completely fabricated by me, but it makes me nostalgic for the forest and the darkness. This is, in a sense, the root of the music that I aim to make now, even if I have only heard it for the first time this week.  

Mortiis has put up a lot of the early work in various limited edition forms on his Bandcamp page. These releases are also available digitally for the first time.

Wes

Niels Poensgen - “Divara”

I came across this track trolling the Berlin tag on Bandcamp, looking for that ebm/techno crossover sound I love so much. While “Divara” doesn’t cross over into the EBM world, there is a nice emotion to the track that puts it right into my wheelhouse. The building bass and rolling, filtered horns produce a nice sense of almost otherworldliness, and it never feels like it’s trying to go too big or too epic for that sort of reserved emotionality. It is a song that seems to set rules for itself, and creates something wonderful within those rules.

Niels Poensgen is a techno artist from Berlin, Germany. His latest release, Divara, is available via Keller on Bandcamp.

Roly Porter - “4101”

Ambient and drone music doesn’t often tend to grab me. There’s usually something about it that I find hard holding on to. This is not the case with Roly Porter. There’s something demanding in his music. There is a constant tension, a feeling of impending doom almost, that forces you to pay attention to it. It builds up as quickly as it releases, creating a rhythm in the soundscapes of the song that much ambient I hear lacks for me.

The soundscapes are impressive, too. There is so much thought clearly put into the design of this track; there is building vocal samples, little mechanical clicks in the background, little ringing instruments whose providence is unclear. All these sounds combine beautifully to produce that sense of tension and doom. I can easily listen to this track over and over, trying to pick out all of the little details that make it so successful for me.

Roly Porter is an electronic artist from the UK. His latest release, Third Law, is available via Tri-Angle Records on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of December 26, 2016

Michael

AmeshA SpentA - “Faces”

The depth of this song is crazy. There are so many little elements in the background, especially in the beginning of the song, that stand out so clearly. Sébastien Béné-Le Touarin is a very talented producer and almost every track on the new AmeshA SpentA album, Simplexity, shows that he can compose really beautifully perfected masterpieces. “Faces” is the track that I would choose to show anyone what the entire album sounds like because I think that this one track contains so many wonderful parts that play out in more depth throughout the album. The way that it progresses from this kind of slow breakbeat mashup of plucking strings and subtle shifts in the rhythms to this giant guitar-driven conclusion is incredible. It gets really heavy at the end, but still maintains its clear, subtle nature and that is something that is really hard to do.

AmeshA SpentA is the solo work of the French composer Sébastien Béné-Le Touarin. The new album, Simplexity, is out now on Audiotrauma Records.

Von Magnet - “Growing vs. Fading”

I am late to the Von Magnet party and I am extremely sorry about that! I was searching through some of the older Ant-Zen releases this week and was drawn in by the artwork for Von Magnet’s ni prédateur ni proie: two hands clasped together with black paint dripping from them -- which seems simple, but is very beautifully done. The opening track, “Growing vs. Fading,” is chaotic and compelling in that it contains a lot of call-and-response type vocal exchanges between Phil Von and Flore Magnet. These escalate from just talking softly to each other to a dramatic calling out, switching to an English vs. French dialogue, and then back again to English entirely. It is extremely effective. The music that also escalates under this exchange is subtle and equally epic. Minimal drumming and atmospheric droning pass through a number of variations and additions. There are pauses in the songs that act as false endings, only to come back through again with more elements added.

Von Magnet is a collective project that has gone through a number of variations and incarnations in their long and obscure career. I would suggest going through all of their material, but I started with their 2008 album ni prédateur ni proie, which is up on the Ant-Zen Bandcamp page.

Wes

M‡яc▲ll▲ - “Faceted”

It just wouldn’t be right to let a new M‡яc▲ll▲ release go by unnoticed! M‡яc▲ll▲ continues to build on their past work, making small incremental changes to their presentation and sound. In “Faceted” we can hear almost what feels like a return to a more classic M‡яc▲ll▲ sound; fast moving synth lines, backed up by equally fast bass and shuffling kicks and hats push the song into a level of aggressiveness that I don’t typically associate with M‡яc▲ll▲, but it works very well. We have vocals again from M‡яc▲ll▲, vocoded and obscuring the still mysterious person behind the music. The song evolves quickly over the course of its seven minute playtime, making tonal switches at just the right moments and never becoming boring to listen to.

M‡яc▲ll▲ is a project of the post-witch house diaspora. You can find their latest release, Aberrant Symmetry, on their Bandcamp.

Cursive - “Staying Alive”

I have been listening to Cursive’s The Ugly Organ a ton over the past couple weeks. “Staying Alive” I think captures a lot of what I love about the album; from the twinkling guitars at the beginning of the track, to the noisy, chaotic center, there is always a feeling of raw emotionality, barely contained, always ready to explode. In the end, the cellos sawing gently under the refrain, “The worst is over”, signal a return to the songs early lightness. It’s a beautiful track that I can listen to over and over without ever getting tired of it.

Cursive is a post-hardcore band from Omaha, Nebraska. Their latest album, a re-issue of The Ugly Organ, is available from Saddle Creek.

Episode 71 - Scott Kelly

This week on Talking to Ghosts we talk with Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Corrections House, and Mirrors Of Psychic Warfare! We chatted about starting Neurosis in the time of thrash metal, working on Mirrors For Psychic Warfare with Sanford Parker, and composing a soundtrack to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 production of “Hamlet.” Scott has many tour dates coming up with Neurosis, as well as a Mirrors For Psychic Warfare European Tour!

The play mentioned by Scott in this episode is called “Ruined” and was written by Lynn Nottage. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

You can find Talking To Ghosts on Facebook and Twitter

Download this episode

Poltergeists: Week of December 12, 2016

Michael

Markus Midnight - “Blutgeld”

Synth-Punk is one of my favorite emerging genres. It may be something that has been around forever, but it is new to me and I am excited about it. Markus Midnight may not fit exactly into the synth-punk movement, but his music has that catch and raw feeling to it that so many bands in that genre provoke. “Blutgeld” is a solid dance song with weird and catchy synths crossing in and out of the track, keeping it interesting and moving forward. This track reminds me a lot, vocally, of the first TR/ST album, which I think will play to its advantage.

Markus Midnight is a solo project from Edmonton, Alberta and you can find his stuff on the Markus Midnight Bandcamp.

Noire Antidote - “Slow Macabre”

Out next week on Audiotrauma Records is the new album from Noire Antidote. The mixture of dark, witchhouse-inspired atmosphere and a raw future bass element has me hooked already. The sounds are deep and intense in this track, reminding me of the kind of oddity that projects like Sonic Area and Twinkle would bring into their darker tracks. I sometimes have trouble with projects that have no vocal element, but the two preview tracks from this album are both consistently interesting and ever-changing enough to keep me fully on board.

The new album from Noire Antidote, I Know Where The Wolf Sleeps, is out on December 19th via Audiotrauma Records.

Wes

Sometimes Never - “The Dead”

“The Dead” is a fantastic track from Sometimes Never’s Enter Terrible. I’ve listened to the full release many times since I discovered it, and every single time, its closer, this track, stands out to me. It often feels simple and minimalistic in the first half of the 13 minute playtime; two or three instruments at a time pluck along with digital choirs providing a calming backdrop.

The song has four sort of movements to it - it starts with the slowly plucking synth who’s delay creates kind of a chord effect, backed up by the aforementioned choir-like pads. From there, it moves into a section that is a little darker in tone - a repeating bassline with little tonal movement is supplemented by pads creating the melody; then later, little plucking synths gently move in adding a feeling of hopefulness. This pulls us into the third movement, where for the first time we have percussion - a kick sets the beat while a arpeggiated bassline pulls us along with it. At the end, in the final movement, all the pieces start to become tied together. The starting synth comes back, plucking away behind the beat, the pads. It is a fantastically constructed song that I can listen to over and over, finding new little things each time.

Sometimes Never is a synth project that appears to be from Bristol,UK. Their latest release, Enter Terrible, is available on Bandcamp.

Lebanon Hanover - “Babes Of The 80s”

I don’t know how I missed this when it first came out. I have been a fan of Lebanon Hanover’s more post-punk oriented works, and while this track feels like it is from the same band, it leans much more heavily on synth components than their last album, Besides The Abyss. In place of the chorus soaked guitars and chunky bass guitar, we have moving pads and plucking synth. It is a fun little song that makes me want to slowly dance around; the short, sharp plucks create a nice, almost jaunty beat you can’t help but move your head to.

Lebanon Hanover is a cold wave duo from Germany. Their latest album, Besides The Abyss, is available on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of November 28, 2016

Michael

Weak Wrists - “Wither”

Weak Wrists is a combination of two of my favorite music genres, which has been accurately coined “emoviolence” (emo/screamo and powerviolence). “Wither” features some of the great elements bands like Oathbreaker and Fvnerals brought to my previous Poltergeists: powerfully chaotic sections, a break into more structured aggression, a wonderful breakdown with clean and mournful vocals, and a great chant at the end. The self-titled debut is a well-balanced mix of intense tracks like “Trail Stained” or “Leave,” which come in at 44 and 28 seconds respectively, and tracks that give the album atmosphere and space like “The Weight” or “In The Tangled Branches,” where time is set aside for the quiet and clean moments. It has a great impact on the album’s layout.     

Weak Wrists is an emoviolence band from North Carolina. Their self-titled debut is out now on their Bandcamp page digitally.

Chrysalide - “All Demons”

Chrysalide has been a perpetual source of influence and solace, especially in times like these. I recently went back and listened to Don’t Be Scared, It’s About Life and Personal Revolution back to back, which I highly recommend for anyone who has not heard these albums, or if it has been a while and you’ve forgotten what they sound like. “All Demons” was the first track that I heard from Personal Revolution (because the promo copy I received digitally from the PR company was in alphabetical order) and it was a jarring but compelling transition from the tracks on Don’t Be Scared, It’s About Life. There are trap and other modern electronic music elements mixed with a pointed and very personal message, which prevails throughout the entire album. I don’t think there has been an album, or band, that has more accurately echoed my own views or experience overall. Tracks like “It Gets in the Blood” and “I Had a Dream” are so personal and seemingly secretive testimonials. It is really something special and great.    

Chrysalide is a noise industrial project from France and all of their albums are the best, end of story. You can get their music directly from their label, Audiotrauma Records.

Wes

Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota - “Viola Concerto Part. I”

Dipping into classical music can sometimes be a nice break from the musical realms I normally operate in. To that end, this release that I found through Bandcamp Daily exemplifies all the things I love about classical music that I find missing from much of the other music I listen to.

This concerto starts out so beautifully; the swells and pizzicato combine to build a feeling not dissimilar from waking up. Over the course of the song the dynamic range is quite broad - there are moments of relative quiet and calm that are interrupted by bombastic stanzas filled with horns and percussion. The song is a story told in its sounds, the way the violin moves, the way the bass swells. It is a fantastic reminder of the things that music can do.

Nico Muhly is a contemporary classical composer; Nadia Sirota is a viola player and member of Alarm Will Sound, a chamber orchestra from New York. Their collaboration, Keep In Touch, can be found on the Bedroom Community’s Bandcamp.

Ganser - “Strategies for Living”

On such a good release, it was hard to pick just one song to write about. “Strategies for Living” is a fantastic piece. Starting with chunky basses and chaotic guitars, the song has a feeling of unease - a feeling accented by the soft buzz and squelching in the background. That feeling of unease gives way to a more direct aggression as the song fully kicks in. The vocals float above the mix, pulling back on that aggression just a little bit, creating a mood that I can’t quite define. “Strategies for Living” is a good example of how This Feels Like Living differs from Ganser’s earlier Audrey; where Audrey felt a little more classic post-punk with chorused guitars and floaty pads, This Feels Like Living feels far more driven by its guitar work.

Ganser is a four-piece post-punk group out of Chicago. Their latest release, This Feels Like Living, is available on their Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of November 14, 2016

Michael

Living Temples - “Sól

While doing some research for our interview with Liste Noire, I found that Kalle Fagerberg, who plays guitar and some keys in the newest version of Liste Noire, also records under the solo moniker Living Temples. Sól, the opening track to the first EP, is catchy and runs down a line of heady bass, lofi synths, and a great overall vocal delivery. It calls back to the older minimal goth rock that sticks out to me as a direct turning point for the genre - bands like Joy Division and some of the heavier Bauhaus come to mind - and for me, to when I really started to listen to gothic music.

The debut Living Temples EP, The Pickpocket, is out now on their Bandcamp.

Hologram_ - “Thirteen Theorems”

Hologram_ is back with a second full-length album, which is something that I have been anticipating all year, and it is all of the elements that I hoped it would be amped up to their maximum. What made Geometrical Keys great was the sense of rhythm that drove the songs forward and the way that sense of rhythm sometimes broke completely, only to rebuild itself from nothing to an incredibly epic new version of where you thought the song was going. “Thirteen Theorems” is a good example of these elements taken to a new level because it takes some of these glitchy rhythmic elements, combines them with some sawtoothed synths, and then builds the tension. This album is slower in some senses, but also hits a lot harder than the first album, which I think is a good way to progress the sound that worked so well before to a slightly different and interesting tone.  

Hologram_’s new album, Amen: Requiem For Heart Fragment, is out now on Audiotrauma Records and Ant-Zen Mailorder.  

Wes

Darkher - “Hollow Veil”

In “Hollow Veil”, Darkher draws influences from folk and doom to create a heavy and haunting track. There are a lot of little subtle things that Darkher does to build the track’s atmosphere. Underneath the strumming guitar, there are soft trilling string instruments coming in and out; their reverb leaves a soft sort of presence, a sort of silent howl. The vocal delivery accentuates this unsettling sound; not quite a whisper, not quite fully released - the feeling of holding back creates a tension in the sound that makes the heavy guitars and drums that follow it feel that much more impactful.

Darkher is Jayn H. Wissenberg’s doomy folk project. Her latest album, Realms, is available on Bandcamp.

Saor - “Hearth”

This is really a beautiful track. Starting with strumming guitars, fiddles, rolling drums, and a strong atmospheric set of strings swelling in the background, Saor transitions into heavier celtic tinged guitar riffs, before dropping fully into blast beats and tremolo picking. The lyrics, said by the author to be inspired by traditional Scottish poetry, paint a beautiful portrait of someone who cares deeply for their home, but feels lost in it. This melancholy is often echoed by the soft breaks where Saor dips back into slowly strummed guitars and somber strings. They also are a reminder of how fraught listening to black metal can feel; the themes, while universal in feeling, could easily be mistaken for themes used by the apoliteic music of neo-fascist movements. I want to be clear: I don’t think Saor is making that sort of music; it is just unfortunate that so many of these universal themes have been made suspicious by those who are.

Saor is an atmospheric black metal project from Scotland. Their latest album, Guardians, is available on Bandcamp.