Friday, April 25, 2014

Professional Flowers-Protex Biome/Genome Shuflr

Professional Flowers is yet another project of the ever prolific Matthew Sage, he of RxRy, Wellington Down, and his own self-titled work. One would think a solo artist wouldn't need so many different nom de plumes for their music, but Sage has always had a clear & distinct idea as to what each project represent and sounds like. As such, Professional Flowers feels like it exists in its own world, or more accurately, like it's trying to bring worlds together. Professional Flowers' sound is based in Sage melding manipulated field recordings to modulated synth sounds so that the natural sounds unnatural, and vica versa, with Sage exploring the dichotomy when placing those two sounds together. The Protex Biome tape is what happens when those sound blend into each other in the most organic way possible. It pulses with a certain life, with not only every sound blending into the next, but the whole album feeling like it's alive, constantly expanding and contracting, but always trying to bloom. It's the sound of various nature recordings playing at once as Mage cuts between them and soundtracks them at the same time.


Genome Shfulr is the inverse of that sound. Harsher, and more random, the tape is the result when the sounds don't meld together at all. The contrast is sharp, the more earthy sounds rubbing sharply against the various synth beeps and whirls. In fact, the sounds Sage creates Genome Shfulr feel almost unnatural at times, as if he sampled space signals and TV static when crafting these songs. It's frantic and almost intense at times, with Sage purposefully making nearly every "track" on this tape short so as to not let them unfold, unlike how they did on Protex Biome. Even the longer tracks, like the three minute closer "Cloud Slurp", is just as jarring as the rest of the tape. Yet, although there's a schizophrenic sound at play here, Genome Shfulr still mirrors the beauty that was present on Protex Biome as well. For there are some lovely and lush moments buried underneath the squeals and sharp cuts of Genome Shulfr, much like their are hints and bits of murky darkness laying within Protex Biome.


Professional Flowers' Bandcamp

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rat Columns-Another Day

It took them long enough, but it seems Rat Columns have finally embraced the fact that they pop band. Ten seconds into "Another Day" is all the confirmation you need to know that it is perfect guitar pop. More than that, it's perfect melancholic, "plucked straight from a rainy city in the UK during the '80s" jangle pop. The saccharine, perfectly reverbed guitar notes. The guiding, ever present bass in the background. The shimmering yet sad synth lines that follow the song throughout. They all meld together so, so well into this beautifully sweet & sad song; something The Pains of Being Pure at Heart would create in a parallel universe. Band mastermind David West might deliver his vocals in a monotone, but the specks of sadness are present in his delivery, for anyone who truly listens. "Another Day" ends with a frantic and almost noisy guitar solo that manages to blend perfectly into the song, speaking to how sublime of a piece of pop Rat Columns have crafted here. Which is a wonderful because Rat Columns made some truly wonderful songs on their debut Sceptre Hole, which far too few people heard. Somehow though, everything West did on that album has been refined to perfection with "Another Day", and the result is nothing short of heavenly.


Rat Columns' Tumblr
Pre-order Leaf soon here, from R.I.P. Society

Monday, April 21, 2014

Single Review: Still Sweet-Pirouette 7"

Still Sweet used to be called Scallions, though both are/were the creative project of Darian Scatton, the mastermind behind the label Edible Onion. Edible Onion is truly a throwback to another era. Everything about it feels intimate and personal; from the bands it releases, all who make music that is creative and not concerned with popular trends in the least, to the packaging, all handmade and assembled by Scaffon himself. Still Sweet’s “debut” 7” likewise fits this aesthetic perfectly, crafting two pieces of dream pop that feel plucked from a distant time before that genre even existed.

“Pirouette”, for instance, is what would happen if The Music Tapes ever decided to craft something gothic. Scatton sings sweet sounding, yet ever so ghastly lyrics, made even more ghostly by Gabrielle Smith’s singing which follows just a moment out of step with Scatton’s. The song’s instrumentation adds to this askew sound as well. The use of an old-timey harp,  as well as high pitched frequencies that float through the song from what sounds like a combination singing saw/pump organ give the track a truly haunted feeling. The track constantly slows down only to start up again, leaving anyone listening constantly off balance, adding to the song’s effect.

“Holey Bones” travels even deeper into the past, sounding like a long forgotten ‘60s girl group b-side, the one they always made sure was a slowed down dance track. It certainly has that feeling, with the “oohs” that echo through the track, paired with the stuttering drums and nighttime surf guitar riffs. “Holey Bones” undercuts its own sweetness though, with even darker lyrics about everything one loves turning to dust, and some noisy synths that creep into the track right before it ends. Scatton never wants anyone to forget that as sweet or lovely as his tracks can get, there is something darker lying underneath.


Still Sweet's Bandcamp
Buy the Pirouette 7" here, from Edible Onion

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tirzah-No Romance

Tirzah's "I'm Not Dancing", one of the best and strangely obtuse dance songs from last year, managed to be both an excellent opening bravo and mission statement rolled into one. In little more than two minutes, it managed to truly showcase Tirzah's sound's; sparse, dry beats enhanced by Micachu's excellent production coupled with Tirzah's detached yet warm vocals. It was a real case of accomplishing so much with so little.

On "No Romance", off Tirzah's upcoming second EP, she and Micachu's have expanded upon everything that made her debut EP so excellent. Its core is still the give and take between the song's beat, here ever so more punchy with its artificial snare snaps & the more subtle electro pulse, and Tirzah's vocals, here stacked upon, and almost falling over each other, giving them a more sultry effect as a contrast to the song's actually sad, emotional core. Not to mention Mica Levi's production is truly on display with this track, especially when the vocal manipulation takes center stage during the song's last third and all of  the various tricks and flourishes Levi' has added to the track come into focus. "No Romance" is a deeply creative R&B track, demonstrating Tirzah's ever expanding style and willingness to go in whatever direction her sound takes her.


Tirzah's Facebook
Pre-order the No Romance EP here, from Greco-Roman

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Total Control-Flesh War

Total Control is a restless band, seemingly permanently uncontent with staying still in just one facet of post-punk. This is a band that over four 7”s sounded like four different bands, jumping from Swell Maps-like guitar twitch on one to minimal wave dance thumps on another. Their debut LP Henge Beat felt like the perfect distillation of all this, managing to meld all their different style hopping with one another by coating every aspect of it in a cold, hardened, and detached intensity. But as wonderful as Henge Beat was, it shouldn't be surprising that Total Control would grow uninterested in that style as well.

On its surface, “Flesh War”, the band’s newest song, feels like a continuation of their sound. The drums open the song with mechanical beat as the guitar starts playing a repetitive riff, synths appear to give the song a cold background, and frontman Daniel Stewart’s delivers his vocals in a flat, almost bored monotone. Previously, Total Control would have locked into this groove and let the song bear out as long as they felt like it should. However, once “Flesh War” hits its chorus, everything changes. The track suddenly blossoms, the synths now delivering this incredibly warm melody, and Stewart’s vocals suddenly gaining a deeply romantic quality to them. It’s a sudden but perfectly executed shift that speaks to the band’s desire to always do something different. There’s a dreary beauty to the song, not unlike that of Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia”, melding the band’s more intense past to a new, (more) melodic present. Though maybe “Flesh War” is so striking simply because it’s the song that has humanized Total Control the most, slipping something besides anger or delirium into their music.


Total Control's Bandcamp
Pre-order Typical System soon here, from Iron Lung Records