Album Review: Pillars – Cavum

Pillars Cavum album cover
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Despite having only one album to their name, Indiana post-rockers PILLARS have already built an impressive reputation for themselves. Of course, being major players behind Post. Festival certainly helps, but they’ve more than earnt their place within the scene based off their music alone.

Put simply this second album, Cavum, is worth your time.

Conceptually, the album explores the dichotomy we find ourselves in, in this current day and age. Technology connects us more than ever, yet also isolates us. Mankind is reaching all manner of pinnacles, yet depression is ever prevalent. Somehow our lives are increasingly intertwined, yet somehow many of us feel more lost than ever. I, for one, find this super relatable, and after having listened to the record a great deal, can see how the music represents both the light and the dark.

Cavum commences with a brooding riff, primal drumming and eerie swells reminiscent of the almighty Jakob. And of course, anyone even remotely familiar with the world of post-rock should know that there is virtually no higher praise than a comparison with Jakob. It builds steadily with nice pacing before the explosive overdriven phase knocks your head in. A groove laden breakdown transitions back into crescendos – and I must say, as someone who reviews a fair deal of post-rock music, I do tire of the same old crescendo cliches. But this isn’t stale, no, no. This, ladies and gentleman, is how to write a damn tasty song. It hooks you in with just enough primal attraction, and then hammers itself into your consciousness.

If that dense riffy goodness wasn’t enough for you, maybe the killer double-bass drumming and urgent guitar line that starts “Dissolution” will tickle your fancy. Heck, it could tickle your eyebrows for all I care, just get a load of the sheer power behind this incredible music. The intensity does ease off after a period, but as Sir Isaac Newton said: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. So according to that, for every quiet passage, we should get some awesome metal passage too. Is that how science works?

I’m a drummer. The drumming on this album rules. Shout outs to Zach Frizzell for being a percussive beast. Zach, I hope to meet you during my travels some day. Maybe I can come to a future Post. Festival and make a drunken scene like I did at dunk!USA. Or you could come to New Zealand and I’ll give you some home-made beard oil and confuse you with my weird accent. It’s probably best if I come meet you though, because then we can also have Taco Bell, which my country does not have (criminal, I know!).

“Black Prayer” is an absolute belter. Think along the lines of when you have a Caspian record spinning and it reaches a part that’s so good you just want to scream and thrash about, knowing that you, a mere mortal, will never be able to craft such perfection. Well goshdarnit, PILLARS just have to rub it in, because they’ve managed to reach such unobtainable heights. There’s a section towards the end of this track, where the bass cuts out, the drum sticks are rapping on the rims, the guitar line is soaring, and then everything comes back in like an angelic tonne of bricks. It somehow crushes my soul and elevates my spirit at the same time. Don’t ask me how. I’m not a priest. (Nor am I a scientist, as you would know if you’d read the paragraph about “Dissolution”). Just know that you may need to change your pants after listening to this track.

Pillars

I’m half tempted to photoshop myself into this photo to see if anyone would notice. I have glasses and a beard, and have been known to frown at times, so I think I could fit right in

Listen closely to album closer, “Coda” and you’ll hear interesting snippets hidden in the background. It’s a touching piano ballad that evokes strong emotions, especially once the light guitar swells kick in. Surprising, considering the quality, but the piano recording was done on an iphone. Marc Ertel sat down at the piano and recorded with his phone while his family made breakfast and got ready for the day. The background noises – you can hear Ertel’s children playing, and his wife washing dishes – give a nice sentimental feel that’s homely and authentic. It’s a great reflective piece to end a superb album.

So yeah, if PILLARS aren’t on your radar yet, then Cavum should see to it that they are. It’s a fine album worthy of your time. It’s a devastating monument to beauty, heaviness, and musical talent.


PILLARS links:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/pillarstheband

Order physical copies of Cavum:

Joseph James

Album Review: The End Of The Ocean -aire

The End Of The Ocean -aire cover
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I’ll admit that I hadn’t come across Ohio’s The End Of The Ocean before seeing them play at dunk!USA in Vermont in 2017, but any of my friends recommended them in the lead up to the festival, and sure enough they played one of the more memorable sets of the weekend.

I’m guessing that the key reason that they’d escaped my attention for so long is because they hadn’t released any music since 2012, which would have been when I was fairly new to the genre and still discovering what gems the world of post-rock had to offer.

But now they’ve ended the wait for new music, offering us the cryptically titled third album, -aire.

I could tell straight away that this album was worth my time. Album opener “endure” commences with light pads and piano chords – ok, atmospheric, setting the mood. But then the drums kick in – so punchy – and I could tell that The End Of The Ocean mean business.

They launch straight into the guts of it from there. The triumphant drums lead us through a euphoric movement that I’m tempted to label as a crescendo – but the energy doesn’t peak and die away. I must add that the mixing is fantastic, offering great depth and clarity.

“bravado” sustains the energy of the first track, offering more melodies and fury. It’s direct, relentless, and glimmering with beauty.

The End Of The Ocean really put the ‘rock’ into post-rock. Forget the loud-quiet-loud approach, these guys and girls go more for the loud-loud-LOUD style, simply adding to the music to increase the fullness and density of the sound.

The intensity doesn’t let up much until we reach the fourth track, “self”. It’s a tender song with pleasant guitar strumming that reminds me of Lights & Motion’sDream Away“. “homesick” follows suite, keeping the mood down for a bit, before bringing the volume back up where it belongs.

Drummer Wes Jackson is a force to be reckoned with. Not content to simply sit back and set the tempo, he injects driving essential energy into each track. Just listen to the blastbeats in “jubilant”!

Lead single “desire” is an ominious beast. Built around a piano ostinato, with the ever brilliant drums rapping on the rim, this is a powerful track. The best part is that unlike most post-rock music we are accustomed to, they don’t just use guitar crescendos and washy cymbals to build the mood, but instead add dynamic complexity to their playing to help the song grow.

This is post-rock that avoids cliché. Sure, it’s emotional instrumental music, but The End Of The Ocean manage to write great songs that avoid the same played-out tropes that every Explosions In The Sky tribute act. -aire pushes past the boundaries of the genre, offering simply brilliant tunes that reward the listener with energy and excitement. Yes, it’s atmospheric and moody, but this is music that demands your attention, not just tired background filler.

Although -aire starts out stronger than it finishes, it’s a solid album guaranteed to stir emotions and pique interest. Check it out and fall in love with it.


The End Of The Ocean links:

Pre-order link to the album: https://theendoftheocean.merchnow.com

Website: http://theendoftheocean.com/

Bandcamp: https://theendoftheocean.bandcamp.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/endoftheocean

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

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/artist/4AXRViJcT2cJ0x1CxSSldW

The End Of The Ocean Tides Of Man Tour Poster

 Joseph James

Album Review: tide/edit – All My Friends

tide/edit All My Friends cover
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Regular readers will know that I teach toddlers for a living. It’s a lot of fun, drawing pictures, digging in the sandpit, building lego, reading stories, running around, acting silly, and generally doing things that don’t really sound like “work” (although believe me – it’s not easy!)

Trying to create a fun and vibrant feeling environment is an integral part of my job. It’s easier to learn things when we feel comfortable and at ease. I enjoy finding music that can help to elevate or lower the mood of the room, depending on the need. Relaxing ambient music by the likes of Rhian Sheehan or Steve Gibbs can help settle everyone down for the chilled out times of the day. And dance parties that feature Disney tunes from soundtracks like Frozen, Lion King and Moana are daily occurrences. But my favourites are upbeat post-rock and math-rock – fun stuff like Toe, Just Neighbours, Tom’s Story and Dorena.

Filipino quartet tide/edit just got added to that list. I can’t believe that they’ve escaped my attention until now, because this is exactly the kind of music I need in my life.

All My Friends ticks all the boxes: upbeat, energetic and melodic. It’s fun and interesting without feeling too distracting.

I’m sure that any math fans will know the deal: it’s happy, tappy music that makes you feel good and want to move your body. For the longest time I thought that math-rock only featured innaccesable bands like Dillinger Escape Plan or Messhuggah, which put me off. But bands like tide/edit have taught me that exploring different time signatures doesn’t alway make a band hard to listen to, it just means that they’re too talented for their own good.

But seriously, All My Friends is a great record. As the title would suggest, it’s the soundtrack to friendship and playfullness. We hear light tapping on guitar fretboards, twinkly riffs and busy drumming, all coming together to create wonderful music. “Chronograph” transports us to electronica territory with glitches in the beat. It doesn’t matter if you’re pumped up, or feeling dreamy and vacant, this music just makes you feel good about life.

Now I know that I cover a lot of instrumental music on this site, but I must disclose that the track “White Flag” contains (cover your ears, children)… vocals! Singing? How dare they? But jokes aside, Dee Cruz’s vocal addition makes for a lovely relaxing song.

It is the start of summer here in New Zealand, which means time spent with friends, cooking on barbeques, hanging out at beaches and rivers, and making time to enjoy what life has to offer. I dare say tide/edit’s carefree tunes from All My Friends will make worthy additions to the soundtrack.

image: Karen de la Fuente

STREAMING AND PURCHASE LINKS
Digital (Bandcamp): tideedit.bandcamp.com
CD (A Spur of the Moment Project): shop.aspurofthemomentproject.com
 
SOCIAL LINKS

WILL NOT FADE AWESOMENESS AWARD 2019 – DAVID ZEIDLER

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NMH tent at dunk!fest 18

New Musical Horizons tent at dunk!fest 18. Zeidler and myself in front, with Guillaume Morette (centre) and the guys from Ranges behind.

Last year I invented an award for Adam Page, who deserved some praise for his work. Being an arbitrary award, I didn’t have set selection criteria or anything of the sort, I just think Page is awesome, and contributes a lot to the music scene.

So this year the choice seemed fairly obvious to me. And it is somewhat ironic that this recipient isn’t even a musician, but there’s no denying that he has contributed hugely to his music scene on an international scale.

I first came across David Zeidler through his writing. At the time he wrote for Echoes & Dust. Later on his was a key figure running Arctic Drones (the best post-rock site out there – give those guys some love!). And now he contributes to Heavy Blog Is Heavy.

Funnily enough, is roots aren’t in music, but horror films. He cut his teeth writing for horror zine Fangoria, and organising cult horror film screenings in New England cinemas. Over the years he transitioned to post-rock music, using the skills he’d aquired through his writing and by running events.

Ranges, Cloud Shelter, Zeidler and Joseph Hard Rock Cafe Lyon

Outside the Hard Rock Cafe Lyon. Zeidler and myself in front, with the guys from Ranges and Cloud Shelter behind

Thinking back, our first interactions were when Zeidler asked me if I’d like to contribute to a Explosions In The Sky tribute he was assembling.

Not long after he asked me to suggest some good local bands. He was working with CJ Blessum of A Thousand Arms [and Ranges, and also former WNF writer] to put out Open Language, an international post-rock compilation, and wanted to find acts from all over the globe so that they’d have a wide selection of music to showcase. A Thousand Arms now have six compilations out, which have helped countless music fans discover new bands from around the world.

Not happy to settle with the work he’d done already, Zeidler formed a few Facebook groups to cultivate an online community. One in particular is great initiative and an invaluable resource for all the creative figures in the game, who can reach out to find others for recording, touring, design, reviews, . It is common to see something along the lines of “Hey, my band x is trying to put a tour together in this region around these dates.”, with many others replying to help piece the tour together.

Now it’s one thing to organise and promote a few local shows, or even provide a platform for others to do it themselves, but Zeidler decided to jump in the deep end and organise a music festival with an international line-up.

dunk!USA 2017 poster by Error Design

Inspired by a trip to dunk!fest in Belgium, Zeidler decided that America needed something equivalent. He began working on putting on dunk!USA  in his hometown of Burlington, featuring a stellar line-up from America, as well as a few international acts. He already had a full-time job, plus his work writing for Arctic Drones, but decided that jumping in the deep end and taking the workload of organising a festival of this size with within his capabilities.

dunk!USA wasn’t a total success in a financial sense, but it provided a springboard for launching this year’s post. Festival in Indiana, and paved the way for possible future dunk!USA events. It was well run, felt professional, and brought many bands from the American scene together.

I personally had a great time at the event. I’d been on tour with the band Ranges, working as a roadie/tour blogger, helping with set ups/pack downs and documenting the tour with my writing and photography. The festival was the climax of said tour. I was stoked to finally meet David in person once we’d arrived in Burlington, and we even stayed at his apartment.

drunk Joseph

Drunk Joseph during Astronoid at dunk!USA. The back of Zeidler’s head far right. Image taken from Behind The Scenes footage in the forthcoming Ranges DVD The Ascent

The following year Ranges invited me back on tour with them, this time in Europe. But they also invited Zeidler.

I’ll be honest, I felt threatened. I thought I’d already proved myself when touring with Ranges in America. Why did they need another blogger?
Arctic Drones has a far greater reach than I’ll ever have, so I was worried I’d be stuck under Zeidler’s shadow.

I needn’t have worried. Zeidler wasn’t trying to steal my job (can I call it a job? It was unpaid. Internship maybe?). We have different focuses anyway – Zeidler writes about foods he ate on tour, whereas I’m more Gonzo styled and write about the crazy character I meet, or shenanigans I get up to.

We shared some quality time together, eating fine European foods. It was nice to have a friend to spend time with who was free when the band was doing soundcheck. We ate fine cheeses and meat in Paris, and went on a crepe date in Lyon.

Tour van

In the Ranges tour van in Europe. Image: Luxinvictus

These days Zeidler is writing for Heavy Blog Is Heavy, and runs PR company Young Epoch – an arm of A Thousand Arms which focuses on promoting bands and running smaller local events. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an appearance at dunk!fest in Belgium again next year, or has a part to play in organising another USA festival in the next year or two.

So there you have it: music promoter, festival and show organiser, publicist, and stalward of the international post-rock community – David Zeidler, recipient of the 2019 Will Not Fade Awesomeness Award.

p.s. Zeidler snores like a bear.

 

Joseph James