Brooklyn, NY’s Andre Cleghorn has just released an album that he hopes will “take his listeners on a ride through real emotions, full of groove and timeless soul.” The album is audaciously titled One Hand and My Imagination. Though my own imagination figured he meant writing lyrics or music, there IS a box of spent tissues on the cover. However, the songs inside are anything but wanky!
Cleghorn is a multi-instrumentalist who’s had a successful career as a bassist, having toured or recorded with artists such as Raphael Saadiq, Common, Estelle, Asher Roth, Rick Ross and Ne-Yo. He’s currently the musical director for Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Mykal Kikgore. With this new album, Cleghorn steps to the forefront as a writer, singer and producer. Among his influences are Prince, Sa-Ra, J Dilla, Andre 3000 and Van Hunt. Cleghorn describes the album itself as “the love child of Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On, D'Angelo's Voodoo, Prince's Dirty Mind and Frank Ocean's Channel Orange.” He further states that this project is “very personal and sometimes auto-biographical. It’s a confrontation between my reputation and my character.”
Though Cleghorn notes that he “wrote every word and produced every song,” he also got some of the best musicians he knew to help with the project. All pre-production was performed on Logic X. Live drums, Hammond organ, electric piano and Moog synth recording took place at ALjo Studios in Queens, NY with vocals cut at Pirate Studios as well as various hotel rooms and bedrooms. Even the famous Tascam Porta Studio 4-track cassette recorder makes an appearance.
“Pagliacci” is a short and tricky opener. There’s a scratchy record, classical picking and a voice over: “Man goes to the doctor, says he’s depressed, says his life seems harsh and cruel…and what lies ahead seems vague and uncertain.” The doctor suggests the man go to see Pagliacci, followed by a twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan. “Social Distancing” is the first song proper, and is a soul-hiphop hybrid. Sick beats, harp samples, jazzy piano and killer male and female vocals decorate the tune. There’s also another spoken word section anchored by Cleghorn’s tasty bass. Overall it feels like a lounge band in purgatory!
“C’est La Vie” features funky wah wah bass, along with Sly Stone-style vocals (at his wildest). The track has an audacious arrangement with spooky keyboards, like the Haunted Mansion on Ecstasy. Lyrically it’s like a laundry list of the pitfalls of a sexual relationship. “Interlude” has chorus keyboards framing a female spoken word “found sound” narration, as a woman describes “Andre’s love.” The music has a warbly cassette quality that plays nicely behind the voice. Just 1:33 but very cool.
“Neverland” sports a soulful spoken vocal with harmonic bass strumming and fuzzy, snaky guitar runs. Great couplets: ”I was up so high / the view from there was grand / so much so that I may never, I may never land / Not what you had planned / I hope that you understand / that my heart belongs to Neverland.” Overall this track feels the most ambitious and complete thus far. “Baby” has a Devo Moog beat for an ’80s romp with lovely harmony vocals: a taste of Stevie Wonder’s more experimental side. Love the scary middle section where the music goes off into a Disney miasma with a scared woman whimpering in the background. Weird but wonderful.
“Do Right” is a super funky Ohio Players-style tune (thanks mostly to the horns) with Cleghorn taking a page from Prince for the vocals. I was amused to discover that “The Grease” actually references John Travolta and the Grease movie. It’s another hard-funky tune with insistent 7th chords, a jumpy beat and Wonder-ish electric keys. “Icarus” is a miniature showcase for Grandma’s bass and vocals, which carry distant echoes of Al Green. “Go Your Way” sums up all the strengths of the previous tracks and adds a couple movie samples for good measures. It’s a fitting farewell to a satisfying journey.
This music is not my usual jam, but I was totally engaged throughout and would love to see what else Gleghorn has up his sleeve.
Trampoline is a charismatic, anti-rock outfit formed in the summer of 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada). At the band's helm is the idiosyncratic and ambitious songwriting of Michelle Lecnik (guitarist and vocalist) and the whip-smart interplay between Steve Martens (drums/vocals) and Joey Penner (bass/vocals). The musical arrangements are cinematic and percussive, blending styles of punk, indie-rock, prog, spoken word poetry and ‘90s rock nostalgia. Trampoline’s Happy Crimes charted at #1 for multiple weeks on radio stations CKUW and UMFM in Winnipeg as well as Edmonton's CJSR 88.5. This album was nominated for the Polaris Prize, has reached #26 on the national top 50 Ear Shot chart and was ranked #74 for 2019. Their latest, All the People in This House, was recorded, mixed and mastered at Private Ear Studio in Winnipeg, Manitoba by John Paul Peters. The 11-track album explores themes of tyranny, the degradation of nature and the collapse of western civilization in the wake of an emerging new paradigm of unconditional love and interdependence. The album flirts with the perspectives of notable voices from Thoth to Socrates to Erin Brockovitch to Ted Kaczynski to comedian Jessa Reed, and others. Lecnik states, that “The message I hope the album transmits to the listener is that within every soul contains every layer of existence, all of human history, the beasts, the birds, the gods, the psychopaths.”
The album begins with “Prologue” – a fitting title and a short four-second snippet of a guy stating – “What you’re about to hear is a rock musical…” then something, something, “house.” Next up repeats “chaos, order, order, order – progress, suffer, progress, suffer” on the track “Ellie I (Lovers)” an anthem, theatrical rocker, narrated by Michelle Lecnik. John Paul Peters sits in on violin on this tune as well, and there is a fantastic, solo break that gets very dramatic. “Ted” features a thumping drumbeat and bass (by Steve Martens and Joey Penner), and death metal-like guitar action in the beginning. More narration follows by Lecnik between the musical breaks. I don’t know – for an anti-rock outfit, this band sounds pretty rock to me – just more on the side of art, theatrical and experimental performance. Older bands like the Virgin Prunes, Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart and artists like Frank Zappa and Björk come to mind, but this group had more pomp and circumstance, like say Arcade Fire. Plenty of artsy stuff was going on in the ’70s.
“Jessa” has more of a structured, conventional approach, but written in a way more suited for the stage, from what I could tell. “Erin” begins gently with rolling and soothing guitar playing. Echoing drums fills come in and more narration a bit later. Some pretty cool synth sounds chime in, alongside a bass melody. This was one of the band’s more electronic/atmospheric styled numbers, that I felt showcased strong instrumental arrangements. “Judas” states “the voices of the angels are calling” and “the voices of the demons are calling.” The band’s style is quiet, but chilling, and their sound is big and bold. This tune was very dramatic and powerful.
The song “Jane” claims “I am going – somewhere” – there’s a lot of great energy behind this tune – and great drumming, too. “Socrates” opens with a menacing sound, followed by more vocal narration (not sung), a dancing rhythm, backing vocals and plenty of other eccentric, art-rock stuff going on. “Doris” features some low, droning synths, electronic vocals and guest performances by Kristen, Kristaps, Veda and Milla. I thought this was a very entertaining song, with a catch chorus part as well. “Escher” has a tension and edginess to it. Largely instrumental, it blends both progressive and art rock styles with a little theatrical flair. Lots of crazy good guitar action, too. “Elle II (Not Nevers)” is one of the band’s longer songs and it develops slowly in the song’s beginning. Overall, this number felt like the “climatic” part of the album – like some sort of realization or revelation was happening. The musical style and singing kind of reminded me of Sinead O’Connor. The solo break gets heavier and more energetic, as the instruments cut out while a lone violin plays, performed by John Paul Peters. The band’s last number is “Thoth” and it gets good and gothic-monk like. A bit later, some metal guitar riffs come in, dancing drum rhythms and choir like, shout-singing, all around a theatrical progressive rock vibe. The song ends with a boat splashing and drifting off to sea – or coming into the harbor, not sure.
I’m not going to lie – Trampoline’s All the People in This House will not be for everyone. It takes a sort of “mood” to be in the mood for this type of music. I’m not saying it’s bad – not one bit. The album is remarkably rich, entertaining and far from anything boring. From what I could tell, this band certainly doesn’t paint themselves into a corner around any one genre of music and that’s where their strength lies. On the other hand, it would have been nice to read some lyrics to get a greater context of what the songs were about. On that note, to give the album an even greater cohesion, perhaps a play written around these songs, or some kind of story, may be something the band would be willing to consider. Just a suggestion. Highly imaginative and creative, filled with unique arrangements and instrumentation – Trampoline’s All the People in This House is distinctive and engaging, and worth a listen.
Duck Foetus is a bedroom metal band originating in Garrison, NY. Duck Foetus was the high school band of Jeff N, Josh A and Logan M. They apparently broke up but released Gay Spit World. The album is lo-fi, experimental and crosses genres.
“I'm Not Going Anywhere Near Me (doomball)” is the opener and the first thirty-second sound like an intro. The song transforms into more of a rock song. There are multiple vocalists here. Some of it was a bit overwhelming and borderline comical because of how pissed and worked up the vocalist sounded. Musically, there’s a lot going on. It’s intense and I was hearing elements of post-rock and emo. The felt song felt like young dudes letting out some anger and frustration. I’m no longer a young dude and on my fourth decade of life but I could still relate to their pent up cathartic release.
“Danse Macabre (dance of the dark moon)” is sort of infused with post-punk but again something about the song felt playful and tongue in cheek. It was on the line of ironic. I thought it was a cool song that was hard to pinpoint the intent.
It took me longer to write the title of “in case of emergency break dance (feat. Lex Valentina)” then listen to the eleven-second song. “Sky Burial’ definitely seemed to be ironic and having a good time especially the villain like intro. The song is sort of this mechanical sounding mix of chip-tune and metal. There are vocals which almost over-flooded my brain. There’s a lead and background vocal which when paired sounded unique.
I’m a big fan of shoegaze so I enjoyed the shoehaze infused “Sho3gaze Afternoon//Cut-Up atwood History Lesson & Mozart Concertos.” It’s a seven-minute song that contains reverb laced synths of some sort, distant ghostly vocals and even some piano towards the middle. This song actually felt fairly straightforward compared to the previous songs.
“I Am The Doorway” and the song of this hyperbolic exaggeration. It’s sort of sludge metal with cartoonish villain-like vocals not too far away from an artist from Marilyn Manson.
The band is really just getting started. The slow moving and over the top “Hole That Can't Be Plunged (eternal darkness of broken mind)” is another song that’s on the line between absurdity and comedy. “Anime Hell (Penultimate Circle)”is a distant and dissonant song. They close with an almost eleven-minute song entitled “worm//Church Bells Outside Brooklyn College 2/8/2020.” There are some heavy grooves, some sections that sound like mood music in sci-fi movie and even some epic moments.
This is an album where I’m not entirely sure where they were coming from. That’s certainly not a bad thing, in fact I think that’s cool. From my perspective it felt like an anything goes album. Don’t overthink it and don’t be afraid to be over the top in an absurd and sometimes even comical way. I liked this album and no matter your thoughts on it there’s no denying it’s original.
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Unwinding Hours is based in Liverpool, UK, and have been playing gigs all over Manchester and London. They also released Once Upon a Horse which is an eight-song album. The band at its core is rock based but they do play with convention here and there and aren’t afraid to experiment with format.
Take for instance the title song “Once Upon A Horse'' which is a little over eight minutes long. After a brief intro the band launches into a somewhat clean but fun groove. The vocals right off the bat reminded me of Morrissey. Something about the delivery and inflection of the words and how he sustained notes. There are a number of engaging riffs and it's also quite dynamic with sections that break down only to come back together. They reach a peak around the five-minute mark with a psychedelic sort of guitar pattern where the guitar player seems to be going up and down the neck. This song is the arguable highlight. Great opener.
“Half a Chemist Shop” is next. This is another very good song. The hook is there and the juxtaposition between a distorted guitar and a cleaner sound panned left and right worked well especially with a nice pair of headphones.
The mood gets a little melancholy and pensive with “Her and Her Room.” The BPM is a little slower, the vocals have some hurt behind them and the guitar is again very well done. The next track “Something Happened” starts with no warning and the full band is swinging here. It’s a catchy song with the bass and drums that provided a foundation for the song. The hook is again really well done. I was getting glam rock vibes in the spirit of David Bowie on this song.
“You You You” was definitely darker and haunting sounding than the previous songs. The percussion is also produced in a way that makes it sound electronic. It brightened up a bit and I thought the elements of the music sounded unique as the song progressed.
“Second Chance” was very cool. In fact this song might have my favorite hook. There’s also some experimentation on this song that I wasn’t expecting. “James Joyce Plays Ulysses” contains whispered vocals and feels like a creepy soundscape. Last up is “100 Nights” and it gets pretty experimental as well. The vibe is absurd and I thought of David Lynch.
This is a very cool album. It does sound a bit scattered however. The first half does establish a signature sound but towards the end they start to sound like an entirely different band. I thought some of these songs would have fit better on different releases.
Overall, I thought there were some great songs here. Fans of The Smiths, David Bowie and beyond should appreciate this. Take a listen.
The Brent Sea is the home recording project of Brent C Willis from The False Dmitrys, an obscure underground rock band from Wellington, New Zealand that's been active for about twenty years. Willis recently released Disco Infernal which is a six-song album with experimental yet dance worthy groove based songs.
The album starts with “Ghost Car” and you are first introduced to protruding synth bass parts and warping white noise. It doesn't take too long for the song to find the main groove that it rides for the majority of the song. Drums fade in and everything begins to lock in. The warping white noise becomes more intense and sounds like a huge phaser effect in action. There’s a good amount happening with the vocals but they are intermittent. The vocals have delay effects at points and are treated more like an element than a lead. It’s an engaging high energy song that is also fairly haunting.
“Riki’s Kitchen” felt sinister and dark. There are elements of post-punk and industrial almost somewhere between NIN and Joy Division. The vocals were interesting and the music felt dark. Piano notes sprinkle on the main groove almost as if he was stabbing at the instrument.
“Anal War” stretches more limits. This song is a bit terrifying. I’m not sure I want to know what Anal War is about. The song revolves around a consistent bass drum beat and lots of fanatic and anxiety inducing noises. Ghostly voices surface and the song should have a warning, especially if you might be under the influence of a drug.
The eight minute “Dead Man’s (disco) Suit” is next and at this point what thinking of absurdist type of art like David Lynch. This song felt like it could be in one of his movies. There are a good amount of disparate parts and dissonance. The song however is quite catchy. There are some consistent things here like the bass line as layers of feedback unfold around it.
“Pants'' made me laugh. The lyrics are funny and brilliant. He gives some advice about remembering to wear your pants if you’re leaving your abode. It revolves around a danceable club beat. Last up is “Baby Inferno” and there’s lots of dissonance on this song. It's abrasive, experimental and metallic.
Disco Infernal isn’t going to be for everyone. For fans of artists like Scott Walker, Daughters and other like-minded acts this should be right up your alley.
Grund is the new band project of Tom Grundman from rural Derbyshire, UK. Grund spent years in the Bristol music scene playing in various bands and music projects. He has since moved to the countryside and is pursing his own sound, culminating in the release of his new album Sounds and Musics. Grundman composed, arranged, performed and recorded everything himself, with the help of guest singers Haya and Josefina (aka Lost Cat).
Grundman explains: “I think it’s fair to call Sounds and Musics a progressive pop record, though I’ve also described it as having romantic, psych-prog songs. I prefer not to stick to conventional song structures and I’m very happy to put in extra beats in some bars, make use of polyrhythms and introduce complicated musical ideas, but I always want to stay catchy and entertaining.”
Grundman recorded at home using Logic Pro X. He used a selection of “weird instruments and gadgets that I’ve collected in my travels such as a Zither and a Bubul Grang (Indian Banjo).” Mixing and mastering was by Bryan Longhurst from his home studio in South West England.
I’m not sure how often the bands sent to me reflect Divide and Conquer’s understanding of my personal aesthetic, but once in a while I get an album like this that fits me like a glove. Grund’s music does sound like pop on the surface, but surrounding that surface like alligators in the moat are thrilling experimental touches and a fearless “try anything” approach. Some of the mixes are stark, and some of the overdubs are right on the edge of digital oblivion, but the totality reflects a larger creative vision I can totally get behind.
“More Moor” fades in with a cloud of distortion which slowly morphs into a solid beat. Sharp, prominent bass plays against the background keyboards. Grundman double-tracks his English-accented vocals, with sweet interjections by guest singer Haya: “Can you dance, can you sing, can you dance?” The beat becomes thicker and heavier as the keys mutate and flirt with even more distortion. Ultimately I’d call this song electro-pop: it refuses to sit still but never loses that catchy beat. Grundman also used an Ebow for the very first time on this track.
“Life goes nando” has a bell-like beat reminiscent of a carnival shooting gallery. The bass is immediately more prominent than before, and the vocals louder and upfront, with several layers of overdubbing. Quirky Beefheartian guitar figures fill in the spaces between the vocals. While having very interesting sounds, this song is a bit repetitive. Haya and Lost Cat return for very close-up vocals in “everybody loves,” a super short track. They both reminded me of Yoni from the experimental band Gong. Lost Cat follows up with Grundman on “love song” which features a jerky rhythm with stabbing chords and a terrific double-speed guitar duet break. Love the lyrical scheme: “Im trying to write you a song, but I don’t really know if I love anyone / now I’m trying to write a love song, but I don’t really love anybody / but if you could love everyone / what if you could love everything.” The song stops in mid-melody, which I always enjoy.
“xsylvania” has a classical-sounding acoustic guitar with high end drum beats. Somewhat shrill but exciting guitar melodies with a bit of Steve Howe flair pepper the tune. Haya adds her beautiful harmonies toward the end, until finally the song is engulfed in noise. “What about the things we said / and in the end we’ll all be dead / I know, I know, I know!”
“the blessed one” is a mostly vocal track with lyrics that connect to each other like a step-ladder atop a miasma of overdriven guitars and synths. I caught a hint of 10cc or Godley-Creme in the approach here. “lectronic moodz” is a slice of retro-futuristic space rock with dated-sounding keys. “Is this the song you want to hear?” Grundman sings. Honestly, I felt this one was a little noodle-y though it’s got cool sounds like all the others. “The Way Out” features Grundman playing his childhood piano, though it sounds like he may have digitally edited or sped up his playing a bit. The piano overdubs paired with the busy drums and parrot squawks are very cool. Basically, this song is a collection of ever-changing riffs. The stacked vocals start halfway through, with a hint of Beach Boys, and the song concludes with some nasty electric lead.
“All The People” is a more intimate construct, like a summing of the Lennon and McCartney acoustic modes. Grundman even sings “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Then we move into a thrilling experimental section, with cool bongo-like percussion and back again. This is one of my favorites though I might be the only one to say that. “Greyskull” is another song with stark Beefheart-like guitar riffs overlaid with Grundman’s great vocals, ringing keyboards and “cartoon footsteps” percussion.
“Ana” slams in with a wall of dissonant electronics, but that all clears up for the song proper. By now Grund’s basic song structure is clear: unusual beginnings, leading into a sort of pop form with off-kilter breaks and interjections, all held together by vocals that hold true to the harmonic center. “Last Dance” is appropriately the last track, again with Haya on guest vocals and use of the Ebow. Vocals, acoustic guitars and heavy bass dominate this tune. It’s a sweet, almost melancholic sendoff, at least for these guys.
Grund’s music is certainly not for everyone, but if you veer toward the crazy, experimental and unusual in your music, look no further!
Alistair O'Brien released Who Fell On Their Head? in 2020. He is back with a new release entitled All Equal. The music on this release is in the same arena as Leonard Cohen, The Velvet Underground, Bill Callahan and other like-minded artists. He mentions this about the album “dark songs about love, heartbreak and searching for meaning in all things.” That’s a pretty broad description so let’s get into it.
The album opens with “Spiral” and on this song I was getting Velvet Underground vibes. It moves slowly with no rush to get anywhere in particular. O’Brien has a deep baritone which rests on the music which is barely above a whisper. On that note the song is quite catchy. I loved the hook which is very subdued and quite dream-like as well. The song, at least how I interpreted it, was about a breakup with lines like “now I get this feeling, its deep in my blood like a mix of ache, its jealousy, its lust like I'm not living in a film that we took and it means nothing.”
“You only made me smile” is a bluesy hybrid. Similar to the previous song it’s not in a rush to get anywhere, however this song is more dynamic. The lead guitar is a constant factor and I loved the bends on this song.
“Cherry Tree” is only about a minute-and-a-half long. Something about the tones of the song make it sound like it's being deflated. It works in a unique way and I actually thought the song could be a bit longer.
I’m not always a fan of spoken and a sort of stream of consciousness but in this case it really works. O’Brien delivers a monotone like spoken word and his baritone is what makes it work and that combines with a jazzy and experimental bed of sounds. The lyrics are poetic but you can still figure out the theme. There are some great lines including “the white horse lays down the little prick has given her a restful piece or a sexual beat or a hard blown sleep with soft music by your side in the trash heap we lived in.”
The music is brighter on “All equal” which sounds like a backyard bluegrass band. “Black fawn” was another very cool spoken word piece. The music felt a little ’70s inspired to me and there’s a formidable hook.
One of the highlights was “Snowflake” which has a steady and unique rhythm. It’s very subdued and also contains some of the infectious vocal melodies. “Charcoal dust smear” made me feel like I was at a beatnik coffee shop in the lower east side in the late ’60s while the closer “After hours” may have the single best groove on the album. The horns were great.
My only slight critique is that on some songs I had a tough time making out the lyrics. I did think however the lo-fi aesthetics worked for this type of album.
I thought this was a great album. It’s a very “cool” sounding record with unique approaches to songwriting. Fans of the aforementioned artists should enjoy this album quite a bit. Take a listen.
Vii-Pii is the moniker of Vianney P from Paris, France. The artist released Seeking the Shroud and Sparkle Then Vanish both of which were reviewed here at Divide and Conquer. He is back with Dead Go Fast! which he explains is a bit of a homage to his previous band. The artist says “When Vii-Pii was seventeen in Paris, he had a serious band named Dead Go Fast. Though Dead Go Fast disbanded long ago, founding member Vii-Pii recently re-recorded these famous old songs he had made for the band. The outcome is this: ‘Dead Go Fast!’ LP.”
The songs felt like a more upbeat post-punk style not too far from a band like The Cure or Joy Division but there are deviations. “Le Cri” starts with sounds like a dog howling and a guitar riff. It’s an interesting combination of sounds to start the album. The drums and main groove quickly snaps in and vocals soon follow. As I mentioned there’s a post-punk quality but the song does feel more celebratory as it progresses. Great opener.
“The Heretic” is next and contains some really well done guitar arpeggios that are backed by pads, a consistent 4/4 beat and earnest vocals. As an English speaker I did have some trouble making out the lyrics but I liked the tone, inflection and overall delivery.
I’ve also been a fan of surf rock especially when it’s presented in a novel way. Those were my thoughts on “She UZ” which is the arguable highlight. The main guitar is a mix between surf rock and spaghetti western. There’s a dark and ominous quality to the song but it has an undeniable hook which seems to come out from the clouds. I loved the baritone-like spoken word breakdown towards the end of the song.
“F” is more of a ballad and slow burn. This song makes you feel like you’re deep in thought thinking about a decision you have to make. There’s a warm blend of guitars and synths and I liked the vocals with some melancholy on them.
“Alice Is Playing With Matches'' on the other hand is almost the exact opposite. The song is a romp and bursts from the seams at points. There’s a blend of choral-like vocals on the hook with the vocalist reaching the upper limits of his vocal range.
“Lust” got more into the post-punk type song but the bass line was sort of funky which gave the song a unique angle. It made me think of a ’70s disco song mixed with some post-punk aesthetic.
“Hands” gets the vocalist to a low vocal range and ends up sounding similar to Leonard Cohen. There’s a lot happening in terms of the music. Last up is “Running So Blue” which contains a smooth and relaxing quality. It sounded stoic.
I thought it was very cool that the artist went back to his roots to uncover these songs. The artist gave them new life and created an engaging LP from beginning to end. Take a listen.
Outer Host started in 2020 during lockdown. The band wanted to experiment and make music with a mixture of organic and synthetic textures. In 2021 the band released an EP entitled The Gray Line and they are now back with a full-length album entitled Source Notes. They mention “The album was inspired by movie soundtracks. Each track is meant to capture a specific mood, moment, or place.”
The album starts with “Note:1” and it is a song that builds with intensity as it progresses. Synth melodies rumble with a kinetic energy that is soon followed by a steady kick drum. The guitar melody is a main focal point here and a little after the halfway mark the song is rocking out.
“Note: 2” is a bit of a slow burn. A steady and persistent sub bass line creates the foundation here. Airy and cosmic sounding elements float about making a rather serene bed of noises. It isn’t till the end of the song where distorted guitar builds into a huge crescendo, making for an absolutely epic ending.
“Note: 3” reminded me of something you might hear from a composer like Max Richter. The music is very spacious, orchestral and cerebral. It’s very dream-like. “Note: 4” has a sense of meditative stillness to it. Piano notes are spaced out and other orchestral elements come into focus making for a cinematic and thematic type of soundscape especially as it picks up in energy.
“Note: 5” has an ominous quality. Something about the pads and other electronic noises made me feel like I was exploring an alien spacecraft. After the alien spaceship I felt like I was transported to a desert wasteland on “Note: 6.”
The album continues with more soundscapes and I was impressed by the wide variety of sounds. “Note: 7” was a highlight. I loved the uplifting quality to this song. The post-rock infused “Note: 9” and delicate yet haunting “Note: 11” are great as well. “Note: 12” is the closer and I felt like a proper send off with something distant yet huge sounding.
This album is dynamic and vast. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard some of the songs in a movie at some point because you can practically see the visuals. Recommended.
Spalted Silverados is a collaboration by Stuart Campbell, Gavin Mathers and Malcolm McMaster. The band recently released a four-song EP entitled Cold.
The EP starts with the title track “Cold.” They mention “Cold is personal experience of vulnerability, growing old and feeling cold, dedicated to a friend who died weeks before its composition.” It revolves around warm acoustic guitar picking and chord progression, reverb laced swells and emotive vocals. It’s a somber song asking philosophical questions and a real sense of a pensive like energy where you get deep in thought.
“Carry the Light,” according to the band, is a song that warns of a bleak future for our planet but holds hope for a way forward. There’s a sweet guitar action on this song. I loved the slide guitar which adds to the uneasiness of the song. The whole band joins in the song a little after the one- minute mark. They did a great job combining the sense of apprehension with a sense of hope.
“River Man” felt like the highlight in the batch. It’s a six-minute song and “is a semi bio of George Parsonage of the Glasgow Humane Society who for twenty five years, like his father before him, provided river rescue on the stretch of the Clyde in the center of Glasgow. In the chorus Campbell adds social comment on the stresses of life in Glasgow that leads souls to attempt suicide in the river. This song is somber and contains a familiar energy that the band was building on in the previous songs on this EP. However, the song feels pretty epic in scope between the infectious vocals and lead guitar solo.
Last up is “The Song of the End” which is a protest against the COP26 conference in Glasgow 2021. The song is under three minutes and felt like the most nostalgic song and something about it did feel patriotic to me. It’s a big sounding song and one I could imagine an audience full of people singing along with. On top of that there’s a slight Celtic quality to the song.
This EP felt cohesive to me. I would say there’s a somber, reflective and pensive quality to the EP as a whole but each song has subtle shades of emotion that make it distinct enough. These are earnest and heartfelt songs with a good amount of emotion at the end of the day. Take a listen.
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