EP Review: Masters Of This Land – Self Titled

Masters Of This Land
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Masters Of This Land is a post-rock/electronica duo from Cairo (closely linked to another act Go! Save The Hostages!). The two members, Amir and Youssef use guitar, bass, synth, a drum machine and a sampler to create relaxing downtempo music.

An interesting bent to this band is that they use their music to satirize the Egyptian government, as well as current nationalist movements around the world (Trump and Brexit were two examples that Amir offered). I can’t pretend that I am aware of the current situation in Egypt, but Amir has filled me in on some recent history, mentioning a 2013 Military coup following from rule by a Muslim Brotherhood.

This political theme is surprising. The imagery of aggression and power contrasts sharply against the mild downtempo music.

On one hand we see some strong satire of the current regime. The Masters Of This Land eagle symbol found on the album cover is based on the Roman SPQR eagle, a symbol of domination. The EP was released on the anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, when the military first took control. Amir shared that the band name was taken from a quote by a recent post-coup Justice Minister who was a former judge. Translated, what he said was that the judges were “masters of this land, and everyone else are slaves” (reference). The band name, symbol and release date are all pointed attacks on the government through ironic mimicry – an answer to the government’s “brain-melting propaganda”, as Amir put it.

One the other hand we have the wonderful music, which doesn’t invoke thoughts of defiance in the slightest.

Tranquil notes play over rigid electronic patterns. Glitchy beats coincide with serene swells. Acoustic and electronic marry and together they create sounds of peace.

Some of the song names are interesting. “C_LORRI”, full of spacey, sci-fi noises, is named after the file name of the first photo of Pluto that the New Horizons probe sent back to earth. “This She-Wolf Is A Gift To My Kinsmen”, with its music box intro, ethereal coos (possibly an e-bow?) clucky synth parts, was the first recorded sentence in (Old) English, written in Anglo-Saxon runes. “Factory 221” was the codename of the area where the Chinese developed atomic weapons in the 50s/60s.

Writing an EP full of relaxing electronic music is an unusual method of protest, but still something I can endorse. I’m a fan of political music, and have always loved the punk ethos of using music as a vehicle to stand up against injustice. And in a weird way it has worked. OK, so this short EP isn’t going to single-handedly overthrow any corrupt governments, but it has at least made me more aware of what is going on in Egypt.

I don’t wish for any of this to be misconstrued as racist. As I said before, I am largely ignorant to the happenings of the various Arab nations throughout recent years. But I do feel compelled to share when I hear stories of rebelling against oppression and injustice.

Politics aside, Masters Of This Land features some great music, perfect for relaxing to. Instrumental projects are open to interpretation, but this one features some fascinating content if you choose to delve deep. If not, never mind, the music stands up on its own as both calming and interesting.


Masters Of This Land links:

Album Review: Bandina ié – Synekdoke

Bandina ié - Synecdoche cover
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Copenhagen quintet Bandina ié have spent a long time working on their début album, Synekdoke. Six whole years for six tracks. Spending an average of a whole year on each track is either a sign of stupidity or great attention to detail.
Named after the Charlie Kaufman movie “Synecdoche, New York”, the album feels light and summery.
The introductory title track feels ambient and ephemeral, with light guitar picking, electronic swells, and tapping on the drum cymbals that sound like cicadas chirping in the trees. It doesn’t feel so much like a song, but serves to set a relaxing tone for the album.
“Arjuna” is fantastic. Everything about it makes me think of carefree dancing – the great groove, the way I picture fingers jumping off the strings on the fretboard, the way the drumsticks bounce off the rims of the drums, the way the shaker rattles in time to the beat. It’s a wonderful song, reminiscent of Dorena.
Likewise, “Solipsisten” warms my heart. Sweet guitar picking, a strong beat with a shaker and ambient swells combine to create a thing of beauty.
The reason I love this album so much is because it sounds so fun and lighthearted. I picture a fantasy scene with elves and fairies partying it up in a forest clearing, fireflies spiraling around them, and everyone having the time of their lives.
Not every track is a fun fairy tale soundtrack. A few are more ambient, and “Kazuaya” features a dangerous rhythm that comes close to a rave track. “Ophavet” opens and closes with clinking wooden wind chimes and rustling in the bushes, but features a down-tempo bassline between. But overall the album still sounds like an adventure in the wilderness.
Too much instrumental music is sad and gloomy. And as much as I love heavy music, the music that Bandina ié writes makes me want to celebrate life in a way that few other post-rock songs inspire me to do.
Bandina ié - Synecdoche
Synekdoke is available now (digitally and on vinyl) through Stella Polaris Music.

Bandina ié links:

Bandina ié is:

Johan Carøe (guitars):
Rasmus Boesgaard (guitars)
Simon Ulstrup (bass)
Mads Michelsen (drums, percussion)
Emil Duvier (piano, synthesizers)
Joseph James

Ranges – The Ascensionist Tour and dunk!fest 2017

Ranges - The Ascensionist banner
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This is exciting.

I’ve been running Will Not Fade for just over three years now. I cover a variety of music, but the reality is that I’m mostly known for my post-rock content. I never planned on becoming pigeon-holed like that, but it is what it is, and it has helped me form connections within the international post-rock community.

As some readers may know, I left my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand in June, and have been travelling around the USA since. I met up with Jesse from Glacier in Boston, Matt and Joe from Aviation and the War in Chicago, and now I’m staying with CJ from Ranges in Bozeman, Montana.

I feel that talking about this is on par with discussing interconnections and unity and one love and a bunch of hippy nonsense. Why don’t we all reflect on how we are vessels of creativity? But joking aside – it truly is special that I’ve managed to befriend people from around the world based on a mutual love of music.

CJ reached out to me via Twitter a few years ago asking me to review Ranges latest release. Soon after I offered him the chance to become a contributor to Will Not Fade. I’ve reviewed some of his band’s releases, and offered advice when his company A Thousand Arms released some compilations [Open Language, Hemispheres]. And now I’m staying at his house, attending his album release show, and will be accompanying his band on tour at the end of the month.


The latest Ranges album is The Ascensionist. It’s a progression from the band’s earlier works, with each song referencing a former album.

Here’s the marketing spiel:

Pre-orders for Ranges‘ new album ‘The Ascensionist’ are now available through A Thousand Arms (US) and dunk!records (EU).  This release is split into two variants with A Thousand arms carrying the 180g Milky Clear with Bone A Side/B Side variant and dunk!records carrying the 180g Bone with Orange Crush A Side/B Side variant.  Both variants come in upgraded reverse board gatefold packaging that includes a hand-numbered eight page screen-printed booklet with custom sewn binding.  Cover paper handmade by RANGES using recycled cotton and native plants from the Bridger mountainrange near Bozeman, Montana.  Also included in every vinyl order is an individually stained felt slipmat with a two color water-based screen-print.  Digital download included. 

In true A Thousand Arms style, the guys have gone waaaaay over the top. Most bands record an album, pay someone to mix and master it, and maybe order some tshirts to sell as well.

The Ranges guys:

  • Record in their own studio
  • Print their own merch
  • Screenprint the boxes they use to post said merch in
  • Printed slipmats to go with the vinyl records.
  • Hand made the very paper that they use to make a booklet that comes with each record
  • Teamed up with a local brewery to brew a beer to coincide with the album release
  • Which you can sip from a limited edition Ranges pint glass
  • Or if beer isn’t your thing, than maybe you’d prefer a special batch of coffee beans roasted to go with the album
  • And you could use one of the ceramic mugs that bassist Jared Gabriel threw to drink said coffee from

So if you haven’t concluded for yourself already: these guys are really into attention to detail aspects. They embody a DIY ethos. And their music rules.

I spent yesterday with the Ranges crew at a listening party at Badger Brewing in Bozeman. It was a great time, hanging out with the families and having pizza and beer (The Ascensionist IPA). They sold a lot of merch and albums, and at this rate they may run out of vinyl records before they get to dunk!festival. A nice worry to have.

As I said before, I’ll be tagging along with Ranges on the road during their upcoming tour. I plan on keeping a tour diary, posting photos, and covering the events at dunk!festival in Burlington, Vermont. You can follow our exploits by keeping an eye on the WNF site during October, and you can also subscribe or follow the WNF Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for updates as well.

Ranges The Ascensionist Tour

Ranges links:

Website: https://www.rangesmusic.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rangesmusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rangesmusic/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBJg41ELchEChCEtIRKz4NA

A Thousand Arms: http://www.athousandarms.com/

dunk!festival USA: https://www.dunkfestival.be/usa/#line-up-us

dunk!festival USA Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/984163238356840/

Interview: Judith Hoorens – We Stood Like Kings

We Stood Like Kings USA 1982
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We Stood Like Kings are a Brussels-based post-rock quartet who specialise in re-imagining scores for silent films. Their upcoming album, USA 1982 (out 22 September 2017 on Kapitän Platte), was written to accompany American cult movie Koyaanisqatsi, directed by Godfrey Reggio. The film explores the imbalance of nature when mankind takes over. The original film was scored by Phillip Glass, so Judith Hoorans explains why her band decided to write music to fit something that already has a soundtrack.

Hi Judith. How are you?

Hi Joseph. I’m absolutely fine, thank you. Happy to be here!

Tell me about your personal musical journey. How long have you been playing piano and when did you first discover post-rock?

I started playing piano as a child. My parents really wanted their three children to have a musical education, so we didn’t really have a choice. I first learned violin, before figuring out it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I remember being very afraid of my teacher. Then I switched to piano. It’s only later, in my late teenage years , that I became conscious of how much music meant to me and that I could do something worthy with it. It’s about at the same time that I discovered post-rock through a good friend of mine. The first band I really enjoyed was Caspian.

How did We Stood Like Kings come to exist?

I’ve known Mathieu, our drummer, since a very long time. We were both students at the same boarding school in Aalst, a little Flemish town located between Brussels and Ghent. Our supervisor loved music a lot and even provided us with a rehearsal room. We started writing pop songs, playing covers. A few years later, we had lost sight of each other but met again by chance, almost literally bumping into each other at university. That’s when I let him hear some post-rock, and he was totally up for it. We started a new band, and over the years, We Stood Like Kings took shape with Colin on bass and Phil on guitars.

Who is your favourite film director and why?

I don’t really have a favorite film director. I’m not a movie know-it-all, I like to enjoy good movies and I don’t really watch them the way that I like listen to music (which I do in a more professional way, you might say, paying attention to meter changes, tonalities, etc.). The best movies for me are the ones which make you forget all the things you have to take care of.

What process does We Stood Like Kings go through when deciding which films you’d like to cover?

Of course we watch a lot of movies, and at some point, it becomes obvious which one we should choose. I guess we discussed the choice of Koyaanisqatsi for like, 5 minutes. Our second project for Vertov’s A Sixth Part of the World was a bit more tricky, because we knew that the movie was a difficult one and would raise many questions from the audience due to its political nature.

We Stood Like Kings

One your website you include a quote from Godfrey Reggio that includes the sentence “Copies are copies of copies”. How well do you think this applies to your current project?

The way I would interpret your question is that in my opinion, nothing is ever really new. We are all different but identical at the same time. Though I would say that we have consciously chosen a musical direction that was different from Philip Glass’ approach. Bands are always inspired by other art forms, be it music or other kinds of art, and there are always many others doing stuff that’s close to what you do. The only way to make it really personal is to put all your soul in it. Trying to create something to really resonates within you. Therefore you have to find what’s yours and not someone else’s and use it as your strength.  

You’ve covered Berlin, USSR – two lost empires.  And now you’ve chosen the USA. Was that a conscious decision?

Yes definitely. We had the idea of making a kind of trilogy on the subject of fragile empires. BERLIN 1927 is like a snapshot of Berlin right before the outbreak of World War II. USSR 1926 shows a glimpse of the Soviet empire at the height of its power. It was only logical to focus on the USA, the Western lifestyle and how it came to its actual form thanks to the technological evolution of the last decades. How knows how it’s going to end?

How does copyright factor into what you do, seeing as you are playing music to match other artists works?

We certainly have to handle copyrights. The two movies from the 20s are still protected by what you call “screening rights”, which we have to pay for each screening of the movie to the Film Museum who has restored to movie and commercialized it on DVD. For Koyaanisqatsi, we have made an agreement also. Of course it’s never free to use existing movies and one should be really careful about this to avoid bad surprises.

Have you ever received feedback from people who were involved in the films you write soundtracks to? And were you in contact with Phillip Glass at all during this process?

Well, not for our first two albums obviously, because the people who made them are dead now. We have not been in contact with Philip Glass. But we have recently sent our soundtrack to the directing team of Koyaanisqatsi. We are eagerly awaiting their feedback, that’s the least we can say.

Last year was the anniversary for the battle of Somme. I watched a documentary about it which was filmed during the the battle, and a live orchestra played the score in time with the film. Do We Stood Like Kings do something similar?

Yes, it’s what we do. We play live, below the screen, while the movie is playing and we are synchronizing our music with it. Of course there’s just 4 of us and not a whole orchestra!

This work has taken We Stood Like Kings a whole year to write. Talk me through the writing process.

Of course the first step is to choose a movie to work on. That took us quite a long time, as we had to watch tons of silent movies before finally coming across Koyaanisqatsi. But it was love at first sight. Once the choice is made, the next step is to watch it over and over again while trying to decide which overall mood fits in which part. Of course you have to split it up in different parts, and that might be a bit tricky as we have to take into account the fact that the album’s going to be released as an LP (which can’t hold more than around 20 minutes per side).

The musical writing process itself has taken us about a year. It’s a kind a puzzle really. You’ve got ideas and you have to make them match the length of the movie scene you are working on. We can’t just let ourselves be carried away by the music. Some songs were very easy to write, other have taken us months. I think one of the oldest songs we started working on, “Night Owl”, was one of the last songs to be finished. We just tried out dozens of different versions of that one before we felt satisfied.

The album features 11 songs. Had you considered writing a seamless, feature length track instead?

In fact, the album is divided into 11 songs but live, they flow seamlessy into one another. I think it’s much easier to fit in today’s standards to have separate tracks. Movie soundtracks released on CD are also always divided into tracks.

You recently featured one of your songs from the upcoming album on the Open Language Volume II comp that our friends at A Thousand Arms put out. Has this help you reach a new audience?

Yes, we definitely reached new people by being on the compilation. We were also thrilled by the review from Heavy Blog Is Heavy. They seemed to have enjoyed the track a lot.

How are you feeling about the upcoming tour you have planned?

Obviously we are incredibly excited. We just came home from the first 6 shows of the tour. These shows were a kind of test because we’ve added a new light show to our set. Technically, there were a lot of new things to take care of, but it was a success and we’ll carry on that way for the whole tour. We’re super happy to visit a few new countries and cities we’ve never been before, like Ljubljana in Slovenia for instance. We’ve planned several shows in Eastern Europe too, for which we got help from Colossal Bookings. Were looking forward to these as well.

The message of this silent film is implict, rather than overt. Post-rock and instrumental music in general is also often up to the listener’s interpretation. Do you feel confident that your music matches the themes of the film well enough?

Of course, you can’t discuss taste and it’s up to every single person to decide whether our music fits the themes of film. Obviously, we hope that we succeeded to give the movie, which we love so much and has influenced so many directors, a new breath and approach. Our goal is not to try to replace Philip Glass, we simply were so touched by the images that we wanted to express musically the feelings that the movie had stirred in us.

After a show, a woman has written us that she felt our music was more hopeful than the original soundtrack. That it made her believe that our world might still as well be saved. Because if there is no hope, there is no point, right?

You are planning on releasing this album on CD and vinyl, as well as digitally through Kapitän Platte. Do you think the music is best listened to on its own, or with visuals supporting it?

I think we wanted to make music that both would stand on its own and mix up with the screening in a way that wouldn’t be too disturbing for someone wanting to “watch a movie”. For me, the ideal setting for this project is a venue with comfortable seats, a big screen and a nice stage. It’s really meant to be half-concert, half-screening. If people just want to see a movie, they should go to the movies, not the a movie concert. I guess the balance changes in every venue but we definitely don’t hide behind the screen.  


We Stood Like Kings are currently touring Europe to promote USA 1982. Head along to www.westoodlikekings.com and click “shows” for more information regarding dates and locations.

We Stood Like Kings links:

Bandcamp: www.wslk.bandcamp.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/westoodlikekings

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/wslk/videos

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreWslk

 

EP Review: Chalk Hands – Burrows & Other Hideouts

Chalk Hands Burrows and Other Hideouts Cover
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Brighton crew Chalk Hands are newcomers in the scene, channeling the likes of Pianos Become The Teeth, Caspian and Envy to offer two songs in a mixed screamo/post-rock style on their début release, Burrows & Other Hideouts.

First song “Burrows” commences with a solemn, softly picked guitar passage, before transforming into a monster. It’s a blistering, furious ode to paranoia and deception, with heavy passages alternating against instrumental segments. The instrumental parts provide breathing room, a break from the anger. But strong emotions dominate the entire way through.

Likewise, “Arms” kicks off strong, offering intense catharsis. It’s a sombre affair. Gang vocals deliver the line “weakness is no curse”, but self-doubt still rings through.

The intense style of music draws strong comparison to modern hardcore acts like Octaves and Defeater, with instrumental post-rock elements breaking up the songs, similar to Winters Dust. The energetic delivery makes the songs seem short. They are fast paced with busy drumming, but the songs both last longer than your average hardcore jam.

Following the idiom of quality over quantity, Chalk Hands offer a short, furious taster of things to come in the vein of many other modern hardcore acts, yet stand out enough to avoid becoming clichéd.

Chalk Hands Burrows and Other Hideouts


Burrows & Other Hideouts will be released on the 25th of August through Future Void Records, available as a digital download, CD or tape.


Chalk Hands links:

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

Bandcamp: https://chalkhands.bandcamp.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chalkhandsofficial/

Joseph James

 

Album Review: Brad Couture – Lower Tones

Brad Couture Lower Tones
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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