Album Review: Brad Couture – Lower Tones

Brad Couture Lower Tones
Standard

Lower Tones is the first full length album from New Hampshire-based composer Brad Couture (his sixth release if you count his earlier works under the name Sleevenotes).

Couture’s serene cinematic tunes are perfect for relaxing to. I’ve played it often in the evenings lately, and find Lower Tones helps me to unwind brilliantly at the end of a busy day. It’s the soundtrack to sitting curled up in a warm blanket with a steaming mug clasped between your hands.

Well, it could be the soundtrack to whatever you choose really. Herein lies the appeal of instrumental music – the interpretation sits with the listener. Couture has licensed music to clients including The History Channel, ESPN, and Monster Energy, so his abilities clearly transcend mere playing around for a hobby.

Like all the solo instrumentalists who submit their work to me, Couture possesses an unfair amount of talent. Mastering one instrument is hard enough. Being able to play a variety of instruments, arrange them in a compelling way, and record them in a home studio is just showing off.

The music is predominantly soft and subtle, as one would expect from an ambient cinematic project. Couture relies heavily on piano and synths to weave an aural tapestry, before employing other instruments to enhance the music.

Cello offers a rich bass sound that synth or bass guitar cannot replicate the same way. Acoustic and electric guitars also help to colour the music, with the distant scorching guitar solo featuring in “Driving Through The Golden Hour” taking the cake for one of the finer moments of the album.

“Restland” is my album highlight, purely due to how evocative I find it. A deep warm hum sounds replicates a conch shell. Violin sets a solemn scene, with light pads and percussion adding gravitas before making space for sparse piano notes. I can picture viking warships setting out on a voyage to distant lands far across the ocean.

If well crafted ambient music for relaxation sounds like you then look no further than Brad Couture. He has done a stellar job with this release and you owe it to yourself to unwind to his music.


Brad Couture links:

Bandcamp: https://bradcouture.bandcamp.com/

Website: http://www.bcouturemusic.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/bcouturemusic

Twitter: twitter.com/bcouturemusic

 

Joseph James

EP Review: Moon Gravity – Antarctica

Moon Gravity Antarctica
Standard

It’s late afternoon, before a long weekend. I’ve spent most of my work day switching between Idle Thumbs podcasts and the Rage Against the Machine discography, deciding to listen to both from the start.

Antarctica, a three track EP by Moon Gravity is the perfect antithesis to that. 20 plus minutes of music spread across three tracks, predominantly comprised of drones and soundscapes.
The modulated bass and multi-tracked, almost chant-like vocals on “Nightfall” provides a psychedelic vibe. Repeated bass motifs with a constant rhythm fill in the role normally taken by drums, pushing the song forward at a slow, thoughtful feeling pace.

Track 2, “Snowstorm starts with delayed guitar over some repeated drones and builds from there. Motifs are explored, they mutate and are built on, either with different instruments or a new textural element. “Snowstorm is evocative of a faraway landscape, like the one pictured on the album artwork. One could easily picture this music being put over time-lapse footage of Aurora Australis or Borealis and being a perfect fit.

The reverberate vocals provide nice additional elements missing from much post-rock music, particularly when used with restraint as they have been here. “Snowstorm evolves over its twelve-minute length, the drones make way for drum machines as backing for the guitar motif. The electronic drums feels jarring when first introduced, but quickly feels like an expected part of the toolkit when the bass guitar becomes more prevalent in the mix.

The staples of this genre are all here; plenty of reverb and delay on clean guitars, a really rich and clear bass tone and solid playing. “Purpling” is an example of all of those elements put together quite nicely.

Overall, Antarctica is a solid EP which doesn’t overstay its welcome. The lack of acoustic drums and sparingly used vocals make for an interesting post-rock release that for $3USD there is no reason not to check it out.


Moon Gravity links:

Bandcamp link for Antarctica: https://silbermedia.bandcamp.com/album/antarctica

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

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPDNEHSaXYMnAquLVdVgN9w


This review was originally posted by Murray Stace at his site Relative Silence

Album Review: Dan Caine – Transitions

Dan Caine Transitions Album Cover
Standard

Some mean bluesy guitar soloing sets a relaxed mood for Dan Caine’s latest effort, his new solo record Transitions, out on Fluttery Records.

The soaring solos on opening track “Peripeteia” rise above some picking and steel guitar that will call to your inner redneck. An odd combo of three guitar styles that all work together nicely. Just as well it does work, because there is little else at play here throughout the album, other than some light percussion. In my experience, most solo post-rock acts play all the elements of a full band using the magic of technology. Caine has chosen instead to focus on his key instrument, and to be honest the music doesn’t suffer for the lack of bass, drums and keys, but rather is enhanced by the simplicity.

Hailey Rose, Caine’s band mate from Lunar Sol, provides some lush vocal harmonies on “Aka’Aka” (Laughter) and “Wolf’s Moon”. I like that she sings in Hawaiian, rather than English. Not only does it make the singing more exotic, but it also reminds me of Te Reo Māori, the language spoken by the indigenous peoples here in New Zealand [Here’s an example of the Māori language for those interested – “Kawea Tātou Ki Ngā Hiwi” by Kerretta]. Rose has a lovely voice, with some ephemeral effects and harmonies making her voice sound simply gorgeous. In fact, for Wolf’s Moon” she doesn’t even sing lyrics, but uses her voice as an instrument, adding stunning harmonies by cooing and wailing.

“A New Chapter” is my favourite track on this album. It sounds laid back and cheerful, the soundtrack for relaxing in the tropics. The album info Caine sent me uses the term “blissful peace” to describe the track. I could think of no more apt a description.

Transitions is a short, sweet sample of Caine’s work, with seven tracks lasting 32 minutes. It is an atmospheric guitar album, and truth be told, Caine’s guitar abilities are fantastic. By using different techniques layered atop each other he constructs some brilliant moody tracks that will have you reaching for your air guitar in no time.


Dan Caine Links:

Bandcamp: https://dan-caine.bandcamp.com/album/transitions

Website: http://dancainemusic.wixsite.com/music

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dancainemusic

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dan-caine

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxQ7TsRkbZYYvnmaKWueRrg

Label: http://www.flutteryrecords.com/

Lunar Sol (Side project with Hailey Rose): http://www.lunarsolband.com/

Joseph James