Album Review: Nihiling – Batteri

Nihiling Batteri cover
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Are you the type of person who believes in the album as a whole? Do you listen to music on shuffle and make playlists from the singles, or listen to entire albums as the artists intended it?

The reason I ask is because for the past few weeks I’ve been listening to Nihiling’s new album Batteri out of sequence. When I downloaded the album the tracks arranged in alphabetical order, and not according to designated track listing, and I feel that somehow I’ve ruined the listening experience.

Not that the experience is bad by any means. But I’ve had to reflect on whether listening to the correct track ordering enhances the album listening experience, or if the tracks need be good enough to stand on their own.


I was taken by “Cellardoor”, the first track I listened to. For first impressions, it certainly had me intrigued. It begins with clicking noises (someone playing the spoons?), and drawn out cello notes. As this progresses the music grows more complex, with multiple poly rhythms that don’t fit work in well together. Despite this, it works. I found myself thinking back to Biffy Clyro’s “Living Is A Problem…”. seeing as both tracks are odd, but undeniably technically proficient.

The real first track of the album, “Ottersong” commences with a minimalist beat and singing that reminds me of Bedouin Soundclash’s Jay Malinowski. Slowly other elements come into the foray – toms and tambourines, more singers, weird glitches. Everyone has their chance to shine, with no shortage of talent fond.The guitars are especially great later in the piece , transitioning from effect laden underwater sounds to searing solos.

But like I said, there is no shortage of talent here. As biased as I am, I find the drums outstanding throughout the album – Rhythmically hypnotizing and dynamically diverse. Not to mention the singing. I’m a sucker for good vocal harmonies and Batteri offers this in spades.


But if you want my recommendation for the first track to start on, try “Power Rangers”. THIS. TRACK. RULES. Honestly, even if my review isn’t going to sell you on the album, at least take the time to listen to this one song. I’ve embedded it in the review here for convenience. The song has two  sublime elements: groove and harmonies. Just give it a listen. Please.


That’s another thing that threw me – the singing is incredible. .Not only was I listening to this album with the songs in the wrong order, but I went in with incorrect assumptions. The press release called it post-rock, but the best songs don’t fit within this description.

I’d class Batteri as eclectic math-rock. As a general rule, the post-rock genre lacks singing. Whereas Nihiling give us layered vocal harmonies to die for. Odd indie Glitches and effects. You can call it post-rock if you must, because I can’t think of any accurate genre classification.

Upon listening to the band’s earlier releases I can understand the post-rock label better. But the band have evolved and embarked into new territory with Batteri. The first half of the album offers experimental prog-rock, and the latter half gives us the post-rock that was advertised.

“Rope” lurks into trip-hop territory. I’ll give the band kudos for atmospherics. Despite the simplicity of it, there is an off-vibe permeating the track, slowly becoming more unhinged as it progresses. The messiness worsens when a chaotic programmed synth à la The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” comes into play towards the end of the song.

“Idiot” goes heavier, with doomy sludge metal that loses intensity half way through, only to be replaced by a snare drum tattoo and less saturated guitar tones.

I highly recommend that you give Batteri a listen. If you do, you’ll hear brilliant musicianship, interesting experimental sounds, great groove, mathy dynamics and vocal harmonies to die for. The first half of the album stands stronger than the reserved post-rock of the second half, but don’t let that stop you checking out this stunning release.

 


Nihiling’s fourth album Batteri came out on Kapitän Platte on May 5, 2017.

Nihiling links:

Joseph James

EP Review: Moon Gravity – Antarctica

Moon Gravity Antarctica
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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: Defend The Rhino – Static Breeze

Defend The Rhino Static Breeze Album Art
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Despite the very pop-punk sounding name, Edmonton’s Defend The Rhino is a solo cinematic instrumental project from singer-songwriter / composer / audio engineer Nathaniel Sutton. With a CV like that, Sutton sounds more than qualified to release an album.

Said album, entitled Static Breeze, is actually the second Defend The Rhino release, featuring ten short tracks that would all fit comfortably within the context of a film.

The album has a somber start ,with soothing waves of soft pads and heartfelt violins, broken up with lingering single piano notes. The second track progresses to using chords on the piano instead of singular notes, and drums add a welcome element.

There are some great elements in said track, “Sound The Alarm”, that are hard to pick up on unless you pay close attention. For example, the bass line at the start is adds awesome feel, but is hidden deep in the mix. Towards the end we hear some brilliant tinkling xylophone that should really stand out, but is again lost and ends up as a minor detail. This is among my favourites on the album because the drum beat and piano ostinato add such energy and liveliness to this song .

The bass notes on “Fade To Dusk” are well captured. I can visualise the thick, dense strings vibrating each time we hear it played. It is here that we are introduced to a ghostly coo that Sutton employs in a few songs – an odd mournful wailing effect that makes the song sound ominous.

Most of these tracks a short and direct, unlike a lot of instrumental music I listen to. They tend to keep the same theme throughout without delineating far from the key melody or beat. The drums especially make the songs appear straightforward, with the same simple beat dominating many tracks. I can tell that they aren’t programmed – there are little giveaways like rapping on the rims in “Dim Lights” and the snare drags in “Fallen Leaf” – but they feel rigid enough that I can tell that the person behind the kit would feel more at home playing another instrument.

“Fallen Leaf” features a funky electric organ tune reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, and “Running In The Dark” just screams David Bowie’s “Heroes”. The latter is the only track on the album with vocals. Hoarse and almost whispered, the singing mirrors Bowie’s delivery of holding back until the chorus, creating suspense as we wait for the crescendo.

This is first and foremost a cinematic piano record. Beautiful evocative, it provokes my imagination into conjuring up all kinds of scenes to fit the music. Sutton includes a variety of instruments and effects to colour in the sounds, making for a varied listen. Static Breeze would be the perfect study album, with pleasant sounds in the background that could help you focus and lift your mood. And of course, it would work brilliantly soundtracking a film, seeing as it is so cinematic in nature.


Static Breeze is due out April 7th through Mint 400 Records,

Defend The Rhino links:

Website: www.nathanielsutton.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/defendtherhino
Twitter: www.twitter.com/defendtherhino
Instagram: www.instagram.com/defendtherhino

 

Album Review: Dan Caine – Transitions

Dan Caine Transitions Album Cover
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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

Album Review: sleepmakeswaves – Made Of Breath Only

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I was already a fan of sleepmakeswaves before they released their last album, Love of Cartography, in 2014. And I thought that album was great. But it wasn’t until I saw their fantastic performance opening for This Will Destroy You in Wellington the following year that I realised just how great a band they are.

So when they asked for support to crowdfund their new album Made Of Breath Only via pozible I was right in there. sleepmakeswaves, you are welcome to my money if it means more incredible music. (You are welcome to even more of it if you decide to come and play in Wellington again as well!)

So I pledged my money to the worthy cause, shared the link a few (OK, more than a few) times to garner further support, and waited for the album to be recorded.

Stylistically, I’d say sleepmakeswaves are similar to both maybeshewill and 65daysofstatic in many respects. Of course you can draw the parallels that all the bands have runonnamesthatlackspaces, but they also all play remarkably energetic post-rock with electronic elements.

Made Of Breath Only commences with a short intro track that builds anticipation, before segueing seamlessly into the explosive opening of “World’s Away”. The track dies down quickly, but remains interesting, with computer glitch sounds adding texture to the jazz rock guitar noodling. Not that this lasts long, because sleepmakeswaves are HIGH ENERGY! Goshdarnit I love these people! Overdriven guitars, thunderous bass, twinkling keys and incredible drumming marry to form aural bliss. So dynamic! The track comes in waves, from rocking wildly, to quieter, more musical passages. And every moment is infectious with joy.

I’m finding it hard to describe my excitement using words alone. Please picture me wildly air drumming and grinning ear to ear as you read my sentences for the full immersive experience.

OK, so we’re only about ten minutes into this album and I’m already calling it as one of the best albums of the year. Sorry, but if you want an objective, unbiased opinion you’ll have to search elsewhere.

“Tundra” was the lead single from the album and I tend to agree that it is the best pick. The lead guitar cuts through with plenty of treble, atop a rolling beast of monstrous rock. And again, it’s that energy that makes it so compelling to listen to. The slower dynamic moments show off the band’s talents as well-rounded musicians, but it’s the explosive sections that inspire. It’s more than the usual crescendocore post-rock here, with some of the amazing music from the Australian prog-rock scene clearly rubbing off on the sleepmakeswaves crew.

I’m overstating the energy to a degree. There are some incredible moments in the quieter sections of the album, like the tender piano parts of the title track.

In the past I have sometimes written about how I prefer “real” instruments over computers. I prefer rappers who have bands over ones with DJs. If I attend a concert I want to see musicians playing live, not acting along to backing tracks. And when I listen to an album I’d prefer to think that the music was actually played and recorded, and not just programmed into a machine. Well I’ll eat my words in whatever way you see fit here because the computerised aspects really enhance the music. The glitches add an extra dimension to already great songs.

If I haven’t made it clear already: this album is incredible! Listening to it makes me feel elated. And the talent is immense. Daniel Oreskovic from fellow Sydney post-rock act Meniscus has replaced founding member Kid on guitar, and although I by no means want to slight Kid’s part in the band, I think an injection of fresh ideas from a new member may have helped to rev the band up a bit.

Made Of Breath Only is going to do wonders for sleepmakeswave. They haven’t even released it yet and they’re already touring China, and scoring support slots on tours opening for big international acts like Underoath and Devin Townsend. And, even better, they are on the verge of breaking out from their niche genre into mainstream awareness thanks to radio play from Australian youth station Triple J.

Listen to this album. If you like post-rock, then you’ll recognise how good it is. If post-rock isn’t your thing, then this could prove to be your gateway album. It’s a beast of an album and deserves your attention.


Made Of Breath Only comes out on Pelagic Records on March 24, 2017

sleepmakeswaves links:

Official: http://www.sleepmakeswaves.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sleepmakeswaves
Bandcamp: https://sleepmakeswaves.bandcamp.com
Label: http://pelagic-records.com

North American, UK and European fans, you can order the new album at cheaper shipping rates right here: www.sleepmakeswaves.com?p=1916