Poltergeists: Week of May 16, 2016

Michael

Perturbator – “Vile World”

French outrun phenom and previously featured guest Perturbator is back with a set of new releases! The full-length album, The Uncanny Valley, is really great and I highly recommend you go check it out. But today I wanted to highlight the bonus-track disk, which is available for “name your own price” directly from Blood Music. The bonus disk really shows off James Kent’s ability to slow it down a bit and still make a solid dance track. I love the bass line in this track; it is simple and fundamental, but when it really kicks in, the track comes together in that special way that makes me bob my head no matter where I am. Kent does a great job of keeping that classic outrun feel but maintains great depth in his melodies.

Perturbator is an outrun project on the Blood Music label, and you can get his new album The Uncanny Valley on Bandcamp or directly from Blood Music in many, many beautiful formats.

In Flames - “Cloud Connected



At the Fear Factory show in Portland a few weeks ago, I likened Soilwork to In Flames and Wes said that he didn’t know/remember what In Flames sounded like, so I decided to dig out my favorite In Flames track and OH BOY am I happy about it being only available via YouTube (official music video). The early 2000s were a great time to make music videos, especially if you made fairly mainstream metal. I had a really hard time deciding between the videos for “Cloud Connected” and “Trigger,” which both came from probably one of the first metal albums that I wore completely out and had to buy another copy of when I was 13 or so: Reroute to Remain. It was fun and catchy metal with some decent melodies. I listened to the whole album again today and still love it. Ultimately I went with “Cloud Connected” because the video is ridiculous and the song has a catchy synth line.

In Flames is a Swedish metal band that started in 1990 but is still releasing albums. They got super popular for a while in the early 2000s, but their newest album is called Siren Charms and it is not as good – but only because I think they are trying too hard to be clean and fit in with metal now.    

Wes

Agalloch - “Into The Painted Grey”

I was late to the Agalloch party, and with their announcement on May 13, I decided I should go back and take a look at the first Agalloch I listened to. Before I had heard Agalloch, I didn’t have a clear idea of black metal; I think I had associated it with acts like Cradle of Filth, and steered clear of it. When I heard the field recordings and melancholy cello, I knew that this was not going to hold with my internalized idea of black metal.

Agalloch helped me come to love the more nature-inspired side of black metal, as well as the technical prowess that many bands in the genre have. I had come in expecting cheese and got an emotional, heavy ride alternating between blast beats with speeding tremolo riffs and slower, thoughtful movements underlined by acoustic elements. Agalloch opened me up to exploring an entire genre, and for that I am grateful.

Agalloch is a massively influential black metal band from the Pacific Northwest. Their latest and maybe last LP, The Serpent and the Sphere,  is available through Bandcamp and Profound Lore Records.

Eight Bells - “Landless”

Over the course of “Landless”, Eight Bells gives us a great array of moods that really demonstrates their technical strength. The track starts with a strong and quick-paced movement, layering in heavy drums, drops us into a mellow vocal section, then tears us straight back out. Rather than feeling like whiplash, the relative mellow of the vocal sections gives a strong emotional context to the roaring movements afterwards. A few minutes into the track, everything breaks down; the song becomes a wash of cymbals and distortion, with some cleaner picking floating through; this wash serves to set up the back half of this almost 13 minute track. The back half holds the mellow tone of the earlier vocal sections before building into a screaming roar of tremolo picking and rapid drumming. The end of the song almost serves as a distorted reflection of the first moments; it ties the two ends together without feeling repetitive.

Eight Bells is a Portland trio that feels like it rides the borders of several metal genres. Their latest album, Landless, is available through Bandcamp or Battleground Records.

Poltergeists: Week of July 27, 2015

Poltergeists is a biweekly feature in which Michael and Wes share tracks that they have had on repeat over the past two weeks.

Michael

Alice Glass - “STILLBIRTH”

After a lengthy discussion with Jesse James Alexander of FOXXYNEWPORT about this song and the demise/rebirth of Crystal Castles and Alice Glass as two separate projects, I am pretty excited about this new track from Alice Glass and Jupiter Keyes. “STILLBIRTH” is a really awesome and noisy track. One expert, Alex Kennedy of I Die: You Die, said it was like an Imminent Starvation track with Alice Glass singing over the top of it - which I think is the best thing someone can say. Crystal Castles was already a pretty noisy arena for Alice, but I think that this new powernoise-influenced track is a perfect introduction to what Alice can do on her own. It has a nice balance between extremely loud and calmly atmospheric. Crystal Castles will definitely be okay without her, and I am sure glad that she is exploring something much darker. I will be anxiously awaiting the next track preview from Alice Glass - If she continues to work with Jupiter Keyes, I will pre-order it tomorrow.

Apollyon’s Visage - “Black Haired Qveen”

Previously featured guest Apollyon’s Visage is no stranger to the podcast, or to me - so, in all fairness I am pretty familiar with this particular set of Canadians. Mortal Coil comes on the heels of a massive remix EP with some of my favorite artists and does not disappoint! I knew that this was in the works and was very excited for its release. “Black Haired Qveen” is a really solid mix of the dark ambiance I usually need from a witch-house-styled release, and the dark dance beats to feed my internal drum machine. DE▼OUR was a good release, but I feel that AV has stepped up everything for this release. The textures are much fuller and flushed out than anything previously released. If you like the darker ambient stuff, definitely check out the drone version of the intro track “Hypnus” on their bandcamp (labelled “Hypnus (Eternity)”).

Wes

Makeup and Vanity Set - “Adolescence”

Makeup and Vanity Set is one of my favorite synthwave/outrun acts. Their music is always expertly constructed, mixing danceable beats with new takes on old synth sounds. The song “Adolescence” - from their newest album Wilderness - is an interesting slowdown on their usual mode; rather than being dominated by little arpeggiated leads and big bright sounds, “Adolescence” pushes back the sounds that normally dominate and allow a vocalist to take the front. The vocals mix with the repeating bass lines and reverberating drums to create a sort of dreamy feeling, complemented by their signature arps plucking away softly in the background.

Perturbator - “Welcome to Nocturne City”

Contrasting with Makeup and Vanity Set’s more pulled back and dreamy take on synthwave, Perturbator always brings us a dark, aggressive vision of a cyberpunk hellscape. Heavy arps, huge drums, and growling saw pads create the dark and furious sounds of “Welcome to Nocturne City.” We’ve talked about James Kent’s music before on the site, so it should come as no surprise this new album is just as great at creating deep atmosphere; it is cinematic in scope.

Poltergeists: Week of February 9, 2015

Poltergeists is a biweekly feature in which Michael and Wes share tracks that they have had on repeat over the past two weeks.

Michael

Aviator - “There Was a Light (It Went Out)”

“I will not be swayed from curiosity.” I feel such a huge wave of wanderlust sweeping over me, as I start a new path in my life, and strive to make a place for my own personality again after so many months of feeling bummed out and stuck by the scene that we all rant about - not to mention my own life decisions. This song encapsulates everything that I am feeling at the moment. I feel old. I feel like I have stuck myself in a chair, looking out the window at a bright world flashing by in seconds. It makes me want to get up and leave in the best way that I could ever imagine.  “I want to see myself that way just one more time.”

Cœur de Pirate - “Pilgrims on a Long Journey”

I found Cœur de Pirate (Pirate Heart) by searching the “French” tag in Bandcamp because apparently I have francophilia lately. I really like the soundtrack quality of this somber piece. The entire album is like this. It is really beautiful music and I feel a strong connection with it. I would encourage you to take a listen if you really like instrumental pieces or soundtrack music.

Wes

S U R V I V E - “Hourglass”

I kind of got off my outrun kick a while ago. The genre seemed to be getting overinflated with boring cyberpunk tracks that all sounded like too close of variations on a theme, and not enough original, interesting takes on the theme; alternatively, it was going hard on Stallone, when I wanted Carpenter.

I don’t think that S U R V I V E self labels as outrun, and maybe that’s why their music seems to speak to me a little easier that most outrun these days. The beat is constant, unflinching four on the floor, with just these little plucks of bass and lead playing away at your ears. There’s nothing aggressive about it, at least not aggressive the in way that Carpenter Brut or Perturbator might be. It just pulls you along with its little plucks and morphing pads, rife with analog drift. “Hourglass” is night drive music at its best.

L'Enfant De La Forêt - “The Birth of All Evil”

Speaking of Perturbator! It was always clear to me that James Kent had some very clear industrial influences in Perturbator, and through his side-project L'Enfant De La Forêt he is letting those influences show through a little more.

“The Birth of All Evil” is an excellent example of Kent’s talents at building atmosphere; this talent, I believe, is the key to his success with Perturbator, and it arguably shows through more evidently in L’Enfant. When you strip away the outrun excess of Perturbator, you’re left with haunting textures morphing into each other. It gets you moving to the edge of your seat, waiting to hear what happens next. If Perturbator is a soundtrack for a Johnny Mnemonic style thriller, L’Enfant De La Forêt is more Bladerunner; it gets into your head.