Exclusive Track Premiere: Barracks – Lovestay (Acoustic)

Barracks ACOUSTAY cover

It has been quiet on the Barracks-front for some time, but now the Bay of Plenty band have returned with a different sound. Taken from the 2016 of the same name, Lovestay has been re-recorded acoustically. This stripped back version showcases Jared Ipsen’s stellar singing abilities accompanied by tender piano playing stunning guitar strumming.

The sparse new arrangement contrasts against Barracks’ usual post-hardcore style, but works well. Moody, chilling, and incredibly well produced, it serves to highlight the introspective nature of the song.

Will Not Fade has a wickedly funny chat with Jared and Tom to learn what Barracks have been up to lately, and get a better picture of how the world looks from their point of view.

‘Lovestay (Acoustic)’ recorded by Barracks at C&T Studios, 2016. Mixed and mastered by Nathan Sowter. Streaming video by Joe O’Connor. Cover art by Conor Coleman.

What have you been up to over the past few years?

Jared:​ At the end of 2016, we released the criminally underrated EP, em>Lovestay. Early 2017, we played a couple of big shows with Baroness and Alexisonfire in Auckland, and will probably ride those sweet waves for a while. After that, we were drummerless, so Hunter (bass / vocals) started learning how to play. We offered Jin an $1,000,000 advance to play guitar for Barracks. We weren’t interested in playing traditional guitar solos anymore, but there shouldn’t be, like, a rule of no solos.

Obviously opening for bands like Baroness and Alexisonfire has earned you someawesome bragging rights. Do you think you’re ever likely to go on tour with an overseas act as the support band?

Jared:​ I mean, that would require going on tour, wouldn’t it?

How do you make it work, with band members living in different towns?

Tom: ​We make it work like any family in an indifferent universe. But we still want to be there for each other… The occasional birthday card. A text sent to say “are you alive?” Or just a simple drum beat tapped out and recorded in the car at the traffic lights for the others to make a song out of. Regular people. Doing regular things.

Tell me your thoughts on music piracy. Is it even a thing anymore, now that streaming is so dominant? I ask because you featured predominantly on the Bittorrent site a few years back.

Jared:​ I think if someone is the type that doesn’t pay for music, they’re never going to pay for music, no matter how much they like it. For me, it was really the difference between people hearing our music for free or not hearing it at all. As far as piracy goes, one of the main ways that people rip music these days is straight from YouTube – we don’t have things like Limewire anymore. If people are just gonna do that, I’d rather them have a good sounding version that it be compressed to shit. Our last royalty cheque from streams was $6.79 for the quarter. Which then has to be split between five people. So you could say we’re doing pretty well.

This acoustic version is quite different from your other material. Are you officially
sell-outs now, or did that happen long ago?

Jared:​ I think there’s an episode of The EPening where you can see the exact moment we sold out.

Tom: ​I’ve always wanted to sell out. I had to wait until the others gave up on their artistic integrity before joining me in the creative slums. But it’s nice to finally have company.

But in all seriousness, why an acoustic version of an old track, rather than a completely new song?

Jared:​ Last year we played a few acoustic shows and a live to air on bFM, and people really seemed to enjoy it – or at least they didn’t tell us they hated it, so it seems fair to make that assumption. We thought it would be cool to record a few acoustic versions of our songs because it’s easy and doesn’t take very long. We have around 10 new songs that we’re working on at the moment, we just haven’t quite gotten the bass tone right.

Lovestay was written a few years ago now. Do you still identify with the person you were when you wrote it?

Jared:​ Yeah, definitely. I’ve tried to keep a theme running through all the Barracks songs, so Lovestay is really just an extension of the ideas from Ghosts, especially in tracks like Fallaway. The EP is about growing up and my pathetic attempts at being as an adult, and I still suck at being as adult, and probably will do for quite some time.

Conor Coleman has his finger in a lot of pies. I can’t even keep up with all the musical
projects that he is part of. He’s currently doing trap music. How did it come about that he did the cover art for this release?

Jared:​ My sister took the original photo for the Lovestay EP over in France. I had been thinking about cover art for Acoustay when I scrolled past Conor’s photo in my Instagram and it was a perfect fit. Then, I slid in to his DMs and asked if we could use it. He said yes. Then I gave him my email address, and he electronically sent me a copy of the photo in the original resolution. After that, I put it in to Photoshop and cropped it into a square.

I adore your social media presence. Do you brainstorm funny things to post, or does it
come naturally?

Jared:​ It comes naturally, unfortunately. All of the vlogs we’ve made have just come about from pointing a camera at each other while we hang out. It seems funny from the outside, but when you have to spend any amount of time with us, it can get pretty old.

What is the band’s consensus on Tenacious D? Is it good or bad to own multiple copies</strong of their CD? [Full disclosure: I’ve seen the D play live three times]

Jared:​ I mean, they’re fine. Say what you will about Jack Black but that dude has pipes, and obviously Kyle is a genius. I had one or two copies of their debut back in the day – it’s just one of those CDs no one remembers buying but every household seems to have a (two) copy(ies), like American Idiot. They’ve been nominated for Grammys and made movies and shit so it’s kind of hard to hate on them when they’re just doing their thing and having a good time. Wonderboy is a jam.

Tom: ​Personally, if somebody was in my car, going through the oooool’ CD Wallet looking for bangaz, and they stumbled across two copies of the ‘D, side-by-side, in the same wallet, I would be proud. Not only proud that I managed to convince someone to get in a car with me, but also that the lucky passenger could not only listen to the ‘D on non-stop rotate, but also hold the ‘D in their hand and appreciate the craftsmanship of that wee devil.

Barracks 2018

Why do you hate drummers?

Jared:​ They take too long to set up, they’re always playing around with other bands on the side, and you have to stop yourself from getting close in case they leave you again.

Tom: ​I wish Jared was a drummer so he would leave, too.

Do you prefer playing R18 or AA shows?

Jared:​ It’s a different vibe. As someone that’s been sucking at putting on AA shows for about 10 years now, I’m probably a bit biased toward them. R18 are usually pretty wild though, the only downside is making money for the Illuminati alcohol industry. The hard part of all ages shows lately has been getting people through the door – there aren’t too many young bands kicking around, so sometimes you just play to the other bands that are playing. We call it ‘communal band practice.’

Do you feel that the new Facebook react emoji things have helped you to express your
feelings better?

Tom: ​It’s a step in the right direction, where people have kind of given up on written and spoken communication. Print is dying, nobody uses phones for talking anymore, and the average age level of spelling and literacy is decreasing. So it’s nice to see emojis step up to the plate and let people know how they feel – with zero effort given (either by actually expressing themselves in well reasoned, thought out sentences or, god forbid, letting somebody actually see their face). I’m rather looking forward to the next step in communication evolution where nobody does anything out of fear of being embarrassed or having their overall life rating decrease.

I think that something that helps Barracks stand out is the focus on melody. Is this a conscious effort to eschew the clichéd approach within the genre of trying to sound as heavy as possible?

Jared:​ I don’t think it’s been a conscious choice as such to be more emo – I’d say we’ve always been a post-hardcore band that have lumped ourselves in with heavier bands, out of necessity more than anything. With the size of our scene in NZ, it doesn’t really make sense to split all the bands up into single genre shows. Also, screaming is hard and hurts my head.

Does this new single signal a wave of new material to come?

Jared:​ Nah, probably not.

Tom: ​Jared’s overall nihilism gets me pretty jacked up, so I’m hoping to work with that and try disappoint him further with the doomiest riff ever created and maybe made into a song. Stay tuned. Just don’t hold your breath. Like, tune in… But keep the volume low so it doesn’t distract you. Then when you least expect it, maybe, just maybe…

What’s next for Barracks?

Jared:​ We’ve just started an alliance in Contest of Champions, so we’re going to be going really hard on that for a while, see where it takes us.

Tom: ​A new song. Please. Just anything. If anyone in Barracks reads this… I miss you guys.

Jared:​ If anyone would like to replace Tom as the guitarist for Barracks, flick me a text on 0279038596.

Get Lovestay (Acoustic) here – smarturl.it/LovestayAcoustic

Barracks links:

BANDCAMP + MERCH | www.barracksmusic.bandcamp.com
INSTAGRAM l instagram.com/barracksmusic
FACEBOOK l facebook.com/barracksmusic
TWITTER l twitter.com/barracksmusic_
TUMBLR | www.fuckyeahbarracksmusic.tumblr.com
YOUTUBE | https://www.youtube.com/barracks


Joseph James

Album Review: Floating In Space – Dreamland

Floating In Space Dreamland cover

Floating In Space sets sail upon the solar winds with the new release Dreamland.

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot is a significant picture.  Taken by the Voyager 1 from a record distance of 3.7 billion miles, it shows Earth as nothing more than a tiny speck in an endless blanket of space.  It puts things into perspective.  Earth is such a microscopic part of the greater expanse.  I understand man’s obsession with discovering what’s out there, but sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. There’s plenty of wonder and beauty right here on Earth.  Perhaps we should cast our eyes more inward?

I often ponder the beauty that is the impossibility of me.  Around 14 billion years ago there was nothing.  Imagine that.  Nothing.  How do you even wrap your head around nothingness?  We’re virtually incapable of truly understanding such a terrifying thought.  Then, inexplicably, there was something.  Depending upon your belief structure an event occurred and the Universe was birthed.  At least in reductive terms.  What exactly triggered this “big bang” has been the question hounding our existence since time memorial.  In all honesty, I don’t even think this question is relevant.  What’s relevant is that after the first second of this “bang” the size of the universe was expanding at such a rate that even the math can’t fully do it justice.

Fast forward 14 billion years and you have us.  From all the chaos and violence this planet has seen from its planetesimal stage up until now you get, impossibly, you and I.  This almost feels laughable.  After the first second of creation had things been off or different by even the most minuscule amount, none of this would be.  You’re a blessing…an absurd, inconceivable blessing.

Ruben Cabellero/ Floating In Space

Credit: Yera Espinosa

The earth heaved and groaned for millennia.  At some point in time during all the anarchy of creation events began transpiring that would eventually lead to the birth of a single thread.  This thread would whirl, loop and flutter through the winds of time and stop somewhere in Spain.  The story of the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind Floating In Space, Ruben Caballero, began 14 billion years ago.  He’s another infeasible creation of an event too far back for any of us to really, fully discern.  The odds that you even share a space in time with him are astronomically beyond your scope of understanding.  But space and time have a different story to tell.  Here you are.  And here is Floating In Space.  You both share the same blink of an eye in time.  Let us rejoice at the absurdity that bites at the edges of possibility.

On the 2016 debut “The Edge of the Light”, we were introduced to just a small portion of what Floating In Space was capable of.  It was a superbly tranquil journey through Caballero’s experiences and feelings as he viewed his life as if they were but mere sequences in a larger movie.  “The Edge of the Light” was to showcase the potential of the band.  The sophomore effort, “Dreamland”, is the realization of that potential.

“Dreamland” is a 12 song effort released by proverbial indie powerhouse Deep Elm and co-produced by its owner/founder John Szuch.  Floating In Space’s new release expands upon the piano driven cinematic motif.  Every song is brilliantly structured and realized.  There isn’t a track on the record you won’t find yourself humming along with after just a few listens.  “Dreamland” is a purpose driven record.  Every note has a purpose.  Every angelically choir-like vocal cadence is well measured.  I can’t help but feel that Floating In Space set out to create an album that deigns to set fire to every butterfly in our stomach.

What is it that you think we’re all searching for?  Even when it appears we have everything in life we could ever possibly dream of having, still we search.  We search to fill the voids.  Voids as far reaching and depth-less as space.  “Dreamland” is about letting go.  Stop searching.  You have everything you could ever hope to have in a million lifetimes right here in front of you.  This is an album about recognizing the beauty you see before you instead of tearing at the remaining threads of your soul to find what it is you think you’re looking for.

Floating In Space is a gifted artist.  A band not afraid of baring its soul.  You can hear love and inspiration come through in every flourish of the guitar and syncopated beat of the drum.  But the real beauty of “Dreamland” is that the band isn’t afraid of letting you in.  Of sharing that grey area between dreaming and fearing.  Between utter solitude and warm fellowship.  We tend to drive distance between ourselves and our fellow man.  Distances measured in time. “Dreamland” closes that gap and makes us believe that we’re going to be OK.  Floating In Space dares you to dream again, but asks that you appreciate what it is that you already have.

Fans of labelmates Lights&Motion , U137 and Inward Oceans will feel right at home with “Dreamland”.  It’s truly uplifting and enlightened songwriting.  Floating In Space fits in so beautifully with the Deep Elm musical aesthetic.  This is a relationship forged in the fires of the big bang.  “Dreamland” is, from the opening notes to the last, filled with so many astoundingly gorgeous frames of optimistic grace that your heart is fit to burst.

If you find yourself adrift searching aimlessly for that next fix to fill whatever void it is in your life that haunts you, an album like “Dreamland” could aid in reminding you what it is that makes all of this so damn worth it.  Mathematically speaking you shouldn’t even exist.

You’re a miracle.

Floating In Space Links

Watch Album Trailer: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-trailer

Stream “Earth” on Spotify: http://bit.ly/fis-earth-spotify

Stream Album Preview: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-preview

Pre-Order – Apple Music: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-apple

Pre-Order – Deep Elm: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-nyop

Album Review: worriedaboutsatan – Shift

worriedaboutsatan Shift

I’ll admit, my music taste has changed substantially over the years. Although I am still a snob (as I think one should be, if they choose to run a music blog), my taste has widened with age. As a teenager I dismissed all electronic/programmed music. To me, the term “remixed” meant ruined, and electronica was just people pushing buttons on computers, instead of playing “real” instruments.

I still remember hearing the track that made me rethink this mindset: worriedaboutsatan’s “You’re In My Thoughts“. Crisp, glassy, moody, excruciatingly well produced – it’s my go to song when I want to test out a set of headphones. Listening to that song made an instant convert of me.

Thinking back, I held a very naïve perception. Electronica already played a part in the rock music I listened to: The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” wouldn’t exist without that sequencer, and Phil Collin’s classic drum fill in “In The Air Tonight” could not be as iconic without the drum machine build up. Distorted electric guitars and keyboards dominate most music I listen to, and those aren’t “real” sounds. The legendary Will Calhoun of Living Colour helped me reach this epiphany when discussing his use sequencers and modulators with me, saying how he wanted to take Jimi Hendrix’s approach of making an instrument sound alien, and apply that to his own instrument. I’m a drummer myself, and now I own an e-kit, for the sake of practicality. 

And then you take my love of post-rock.  65daysofstatic and Maybeshewill were two bands that introduced me to the genre. sleepmakeswaves are one of the greatest live acts within the scene. None of those acts would be who they are without the samples, the glitches, the electronica aspects of their sound.


Image: Sophie Green

Following on from 2006’s Blank Tape, worriedaboutsatan have written a 2 part album entitled Shift. Recorded in one take, in a semi-improvised setting, the results are a bleak, drone-heavy and atmospheric.

“Shift (Part 1)” takes its sweet time, with dense, swirling textures. A shaker-esque metronome adds momentum half way through, which is later helped by a beat with muted kick and two different echoing snare sounds that play on alternate bars. The larger of the two snares sounds like stormy waves crashing upon a rocky shore.

I find “Shift (Part 2)” more exciting. At first listen, I felt a sense of déjà vu, that I was listening to a video game soundtrack or watching an 80’s action thriller. Maybe something like Turbo Kid? Then it hit me. Of course! The elements are all there: ominous bass undertones, eerie atmospheric swelling, 80’s era synth… it’s a throwback to the Stranger Things theme! Now whether this is deliberate homage to the television show or not, I cannot un-hear the striking similarities. 

I’m out of my element trying to describe the music, but a 8 bit melody demands most of our attention while sinister bass lurks in the depths of the song. A murmured metronome plays all the while, sounding like deep-breathing – almost a robotic snore. The last three minutes die off, leaving a tide of ambiance.

It is a stretch calling this two-track release an album, but it stands alongside some great works such as Glacier’s latest, Jakob‘s Dominion, and RangesNight & Day, so I’ll permit it. I’m too young to say for sure, but I’m guessing that people who lived through the 80’s will lap this up – especially “Shift (Part 2)”.

Dense and evocative, Shift is a great addition to the worriedaboutsatan catalogue. “Shift (Part 2)” is especially grand and deserves your attention.

Bring on dunk!festival! I’m looking forward to hearing this live!

worriedaboutsatan links:

Website: http://worriedaboutsatan.tumblr.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worriedaboutsatan

Bandcamp: https://worriedaboutsatan.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/teamsatan

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/worriedaboutsatan

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNPHDrIqARa4N9hWASmCyjQ


Joseph James


Buried Treasure: Midnight Legs // Marathon Lungs – Aesthetic Medicine


This is a guest post from Aaron Edwards, better known as Foofer. Aaron has written about music for many years, getting his break on Postrockstar (where he had the weekly column Foofer Fridays), before writing for Echoes and Dust, and now Arctic Drones. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two young children, and hosted me (Joseph) when I was travelling through America in late 2017. I emailed him recently asking if he would like to tell us about any underrated bands who deserve more attention, so he graced us with his writing to promote Boise locals Midnight Legs // Marathon Lungs.

Midnight Legs / Marathon Lungs - Aesthetic Medicine

First and foremost I would love to thank Joseph for letting me come out of my cave and show him how it’s done. This past year has been crazy in a lot of ways, and I think everyone knows how easy it can be for good releases to slip under the radar or fall through the cracks. Midnight Legs // Marathon Lungs is definitely one of those. 99 times out of 100, a début album from a new band is ignored. And it only gets worse in states where the population is less than the number of cows (or potatoes).

Being from my neck of the woods (which I don’t get to say very often) means that they were on my radar from day one, basically. I went to their album release show, and they were kind enough to supply me with my own copy of their CD. For weeks it was all I could play in the car. Their bandcamp page says “We’re not sad. We’re contemplative.” and it’s crazy how true it is. I’m not usually in the mood for ‘Aesthetic Medicine’ unless I’m already inside my own head, or have a long car drive ahead of me. I cannot and will not ever claim to fully understand lyrics, but I can say that I probably do more thinking due to their words moreso than their music.

There’s something raw about the music that’s so appealing. There’s a very strong Slint vibe in a lot of their sound, but they also have a tendency for sounding very Post-Rock, with their bass-heavy melodies and twinkly guitars. However they don’t fall prey to post-rock pratfalls, how they do more strumming than tremolo picking. It’s a breath of fresh air for someone who’s listened almost exclusively to post-rock this past year. Imagine if Slint had made something a little more melodic and peppered it with screaming, and you’ll be close to imagining ‘Aesthetic Medicine.’

Considering that this is a début album for a local band that’s all DIY, the production is surprisingly solid. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered locally and it still sounds better than some of the local stuff that was mixed and mastered elsewhere. Even the acoustic guitar sounds how it should, I can even play it on my phone speaker and it won’t suck.

Overall, I would recommend this album to all the sad bois out there. Since this release they’ve added a keyboardist, so you can look forward to another layer of depth, and another mind to add to their potential which adds up to more than the sum of their parts. It’s not exactly within my wheelhouse of music, I didn’t even think to write about them until Joseph asked me if there was anything I’d want to bring to attention from this last year. However they’re from my neighborhood. They make good music. And while it didn’t make it to my year-end list on Arctic drones, I appreciate what they’ve made and I’m excited to hear more of it.

Midnight Legs / Marathon Lungs links:

Bandcamp: https://midnightlegsmarathonlungs.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/midnightlegsmarathonlungs

Album Review: Ranges – The Ascensionist

Ranges - The Ascensionist banner

I’ve long admired Ranges, the concept post-rock quartet hailing from Bozeman, Montana. I enjoy the thought-provoking concepts that they use to inspire each of their releases (read my reviews of “Night and Day” and The Gods Of The Copybook Headings for some examples). The packaging behind each release is also brilliant [one of the perks of owning a printing press as a side business]. Their last output was a cassette tape that included a cryptic puzzle in the packaging, which revealed the information regarding this latest release – should the listener possess the time and energy to crack it.

Alas, I did not spend the time cracking said puzzle, as it arrived in the post just prior to my leaving home to travel around the United States. However, another writer more intelligent and articulate than I (Aaron Edwards from Arctic Drones) solved it and shared what he found: the track listing and title to the latest Ranges release, The Ascensionist.

In recent years, members of the band have been busy growing the ever-expanding screen printing/merch/distro/record label/business that is A Thousand Arms. They’ve also released the aforementioned tape, Prelude, and their first vinyl 7″ record, And The People Cried Out For A King. On top of this, A Thousand Arms has compiled and released a number of free post-rock compilations (including Open Language and Hemispheres). Despite all this work filling their schedule, Ranges still managed to find the time to record a new record in time for the inaugural dunk!USA festival in Burlington, Vermont.

Ranges the Ascensionist second pressing

This is music for adventures. Grandiose, epic soundtracks for brave feats. The album title – The Acensionist – and the band name – Ranges – both allude to the mountainous region of Montana where the band lives – references to the environment that inspires the respective members of the band.

Suitably enough, the first time I listened to the album was during an adventure. I had just rented a car in Phoenix, Arizona, and was making my way north to Montana to meet up with the band. New Zealanders drive on the left hand side of the road, but I thought I’d got the hang of American driving when living in Maine a few months earlier. Turns out driving in the low built-up wilderness of Maine doesn’t equate to the hectic five lane roads of Arizona’s biggest city. I freaked out.

I swear the album played at least four times on repeat as I drove from Phoenix to Sedona. I was too terrified to take my eyes off the road to change music, and there aren’t many suitable spots to pull over on the freeway. So The Ascensionist soundtracked my adventure, accompanying my journey through the vast deserts and arid cacti-flecked landscapes.

I revisited The Ascensionist  now and again during my week-long drive north. Passing immense gorges in Colorado, finding fossils and cave paintings in Utah, cruising along smoky mountaintops in Wyoming, and winding through geothermal hotspots in Yellowstone National Park. Epic music for epic times.

I held off reviewing the record though. I try to give music a thorough listening to when I review it, which can “kill” the appeal of the music if I overdo it. I listened to it during that trip, sure, but didn’t pick it apart and analyse it.

On tour, I heard the same set night after night for two weeks. I’m not sick of those songs, but I’m glad I didn’t listen to them too much before the tour either. It was nice going in fresh and picking up the nuances in a live context.

This review may as well be redundant. The album has been out for a few months now, so anyone who was inclined to listen to it would have already formed their own opinion by now. And Ranges don’t need my review for promo purposes – they sold out of records within a week – both US and EU editions. In fact, their second pressings came on sale on Black Friday. But I still admire the work, and I regard the members of Ranges as close friends, so I feel I owe them my thoughts on paper.

When it comes to Ranges, the music is only a component of the overall package. Concept and delivery are also paramount.

Most Ranges albums are concept albums – revolving around a theme that inspired the music. This time around, in a weird meta move, their concept is about themselves. Slightly pretentious, but at the same time neat to see the depth that they delve into with their art. Each track references a previous release. So if you look at track nine, and some of their merch, you may get insight into their next album theme…

And of course, the packaging is something else. Guitarist CJ Blessum and Ranges art director Wilson Raska co-own A Thousand Arms, a merchandising company. So their t-shirts, album covers etc… are all a step above.

The deluxe edition of the record came in 2LP 180g gatefold vinyl – different variants for the US and EU markets. The band made recycled paper with which to create custom booklets containing liner notes. They screen printed album covers and slipmats.

They also collaborated with local brewing companies to come up with special release Ranges coffee and beer. And bass player Jared Gabriel handmade clay mugs to go with the coffee.


I’ve written so much already without even touching on the music.

Blustery winds greet us on the opening track, setting the scene. I can picture a lone adventure scaling a peak, buffeted by the winds, slowly trudging through the snow. Soft guitar and mellow bass set the mood, before a swift transition into “Seven Sisters” provides us with harder hitting content that demonstrates how to make an opening statement.

When Ranges play this live, they combine the first two tracks and use a spoken word sample of Howard Simon’s poem I Choose The Mountain. I can’t hear the song without the sample, which is a shame. I think that the delivery sets the mood so well, and adds so much. By the same logic, I feel that excluding the sample from the recording detracts from the potential impact. Not that you’d know if you had only heard the album version… The embedded video above gives you an idea of how it sounds live [and I feature briefly at the 10 second mark].

This is not an upbeat record. But I still feel good when I listen to it. Take the title track, for example. “The Ascensionist” sound sombre and slow. It meanders along, slowly gaining layers and complexity. But when the guitar lead kicks in a few minutes into it, and the drums get busy, and the energy jacks up… well, it’s just grand. Sad, perhaps, but with an underlying glimmer of hope. Liken it to the emotions of conquering a mountain – grueling and hard, but thoroughly rewarding.

“Called Not to a New Religion, but to Life” took me by surprise. Programmed drums! Mark the drummer uses a Roland trigger pad to set off the electronic patterns, before adding his own acoustic beats after a few bars. CJ (guitar) is an absolute wizard, and programmed a lighting rig to sequence in time with a click track, so I wonder if the new electronica element arose from his experimenting with stage lighting? I can see it paving the way for more “glitchy” material in the future, like sleepmakeswaves or 65daysofstatic.

One of the standout tracks for me is “Babylon The Great (Part I)”. I remember they played it in Wichita, which completely took me by surprise. It was at a tiny wee bar named Kirby’s that Jared (bass) used to work at when he was at college. For some reason the guys decided to change the set that night, and played this song. It was the first time I’d heard it live. “Guys!” I said, “that track with the thrash beat… why have you been holding out on me all tour? That song kills! You need more of that higher energy stuff!” There’s something primal about the drumming on this song, with Mark just dominating.

But “Seven Veils” is the album highlight. The busy guitar line that opens is far more interesting than moody swells, and Mark’s beat features small flourishes on the hi-hats that add that extra oomph. But Joey’s guitar melody is the high point of the album – the hook that worms its way into your ear and has you subconsciously humming days later.

Listening to this album unearths fond memories. Memories of laughing along with the guys in the van, of late nights packing down equipment, of sharing pizza and budweisers, of driving through a beautiful mist-shrouded autumnal New York state, of making lifelong friends. To me, The Ascensionist sounds like adventures and friendship. And I think that is exactly what the band was trying for.

The Ascensionist is Ranges’ best album to date. It builds upon, and improves each of their prior works. I cannot remove my personal attachment to the music, but in a way that is an affirmation of quality. Great music evokes emotion.

I’m super excited for the next album. Ranges have done well thus far, but I see them on the cusp of a change. CJ has done well to carry the band this far, and has laid a great template. Now time for Joey to add more of melodies lines, and Mark to let his hardcore roots shine through on drums.

Ranges dunk!USA 2017

Ranges links:

http://www.athousandarms.com/ranges (US)
https://shop.dunkfestival.com/ (EU)

Website | www.rangesmusic.com
Spotify | https://open.spotify.com/artist/1iqjhf6W2YXUWwa2iKMybf
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Words and live photography by Joseph James

Album Review: Teller – Strive Recess Echo

Teller strive recess echo cover

I don’t especially like it when bands sneak by me like some silent stranger in the night.  There’s just so much instrumental rock out there these days that it’s easy to miss a few here and there.  I’d like to believe that I have my finger firmly placed upon the crescendoing pulse of post-rock.  How Teller got by me beggars belief.  To my credit they’ve only released one EP back in 2013, but this band hosts a member of Swedish post-rock band Ef (Emanuel Olsson) and was produced by Daniel Juline (also of EF).  “Hello Scotland” is one of my favorite tunes of all time.  This isn’t about Ef, though.  This is about Teller’s first full-length Strive Recess Echo.  An album seven years in the making.

Someone should really do a study on the effects that Scandinavia has on music.  There must be something in the water.  This is a part of the world that’s raised bands like Immanu El, Moonlit Sailor and Oh, Hiroshima.  Not to mention Lights & Motion, who this blog is very fond of.  I’m starting to believe I was born in the wrong part of the planet.  Sure, I get to brag about post-metal sojourner’s Minsk, Russian Circles and even Tortoise.  There’s just something about the sound that comes out of Scandinavia that just gets me.

Teller isn’t new to the game.  As I’ve stated before, they have a member from Ef and indie outfits The Gentle Act Incident and Shiloh.  Drifting through the band’s history I learned that Teller is actually an idea that’s been around for almost 15 years.  From what I can gather (whether this was intentional by the band or not) is that they’re more than a group of writers and thinkers.  They’re friends.  The act of communing as a group to write music was almost secondary to their desire to just be in the same room as one another.  To hang out.  To have fun.  I can really get behind this idea.  The band’s desire to just be with one another and write has translated very well musically speaking.


Let me get this out-of-the-way first and foremost as I feel it’s the big elephant in the room: you can hear Ef all over Strive Recess Echo.  This isn’t bad thing at all.  I almost welcome it.  But there’s a ton on this record that sets them apart.  Yes, this is another instrumental rock album, but one that houses some incredibly infectious melodies.

One of the first things that really struck me as I was listening to this record was the musicianship.  Teller are impossibly talented musicians and composers.  And the group of folks they brought in for strings and brass are well deserved of any praise.  I haven’t heard trumpets used this brilliantly since *shels. The horn sections nestle themselves perfectly among the driving guitars adding just the right amount of texture.  There were ofttimes while listening that the song would drop and I would get pumped for the horn sections that wailed away with violent abandon.  I’m not trying to take anything away from the guitar, bass and drums.  Teller have managed to write some insanely gorgeous parts where you find yourself swaying lazily only to be brought back to the real world as they hit a crescendo.  Your heart drops into your stomach.

You’ve been here before with other post-rock bands, but it just feels different.  Teller doesn’t stick around very long on any one phrase.  Just when you’ve fallen in love with one part, they switch it up and you find yourself traversing dark tunnels of eerie ambience.  There are even some ghostly vocal undulations peppered throughout. The use of strings are sparse but always seem to be put in the exact moment when you want to hear them.  Any one that’s a fan of pg. lost‘s early work will be right at home with Teller.  A word of warning: If you go into this record thinking it’s just another loud/quiet/loud post-rock band, you’re going to be left wanting.  Sure, they employ these ingredients with aplomb but Teller has a sound all their own.


Teller -Gustav Recording Drums

In my past reviews I’ve often stuck to a particular theme in my writing to try and convey what it is about the record that I do or do not like.  I’ve decided to forego all the poetic ramblings for a more straightforward approach.  That isn’t because Strive Recess Echo didn’t inspire me in any way.  It’s because I wouldn’t be able to do the album justice.  It’s been four years since Teller’s last release.  Whatever they did in that four years obviously worked.  They noted that during that brief hiatus they were trying to find out who they were musically.  Where they fit in.  Instead, I believe they carved out their own little niche.

As the genre ages it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out.  Teller does just that.  I’m reviewing this album late.  Strive Recess Echo came out in November completely DIY.  Had I listened to this album while it was still 2017 I would have had no problem putting it in my list of best albums of the year.

Hey Teller, I know it’s only been a couple months since the release but can we have some new material already?


Teller Links:




Teller is:

Erik Banck – Guitar, Vocals & Art work
Torbjörn Henrysson – Guitar
Emanuel Olsson – Guitar, Vocals & sound engineer
Richard Svartz – Bass
Gustav Kronqvist – Drums

All recordings were done by Emanuel.  The album was mixed by Filip Leyman. Daniel Juline produced.