Tag Archives: ambient

Underground Sounds: Vėlių Namai – Laumių Šokis

Label: P3lican Partisans
Band: Vėlių Namai
Origin: Lithuania

Ambient music is like most electronic music genres quite a thing in the Baltics. It’s fairly easy to acquire the means to make it and I suppose it fits in the nouveau hip state of the countries, which you find in the capitals mostly. Still, ambient can also turn back and look at the past or nature, which is exactly what Vėlių Namai is doing on this record ‘Laumių Šokis’.

This one man project is done by Julius Mité, who is a Lithuanian that appears to travel a lot. Still, his music or art (I feel that ambient often drifts in that direction more) is firmly rooted in his motherland. The album is dedicated to Laima, the goddess of earth and pictures of him in ethnic clothing can be found on the Facebook page. This immediately draws me even closer to the music, having just undergone a Romuva wedding in Lithuania myself, this feels close to the heart (yes, my own wedding indeed).

‘Migla’ sounds like what it means, misty with drops falling and gentle piano play piercing the hazy air. It feels a little like some of the ’90s postrock bands.  The sound shifts after a good 7 minutes when we shift into ‘Prabundu’ (I’m waking up). The music is introverted, maximizing only the elements it needs to achieve its purpose. Carefully crafted drones fill the lower sound regions and convey the voice of the earthy, while the cobwebs are still lingering in the fuzzy sounds.

The music lends itself for silent contemplation and introspection, it’s slow progressions and eerie soundscapes seem to be of the darker sort, but so is the mind. The listener is suddenly awoken from those thoughts by the vocals on ‘Mudu du, pilkume’ (us, in grey), by Hannah Knowles. Easy going, it breaks the solitude of the songs and breaks the cycle for the listener. After this we get back tot the solemnnity of the drones, synths and rare guitar line, as we find on ‘Laumių šokis (The dance of laumės). The record is not a very open one, the sounds are cavernous even and therefor the earth feels like the surrounding element.

Also there’s a sense of feeling forlorn, drifting through this undeground world and its wide expanses by yourself, weightless with just the mesmerizing drones accompanying you and painting the sight that fails in darkness. Slowly buts surely, all the other stuff falls away and just the elements remain on a minimal song with lamenting tones like ‘Vėlių takais visi mes eisim (The home beyond)’. Graceful and with a natural beauty.

This album is an experience, possibly best enjoyed with the Baltic landscape in view. Get closer to the essence and to the self and this is your soundtrack.

Underground Sounds: Summit – The Winds That Forestall Thy Return

Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Band: Summit
Origin: Italy

Metal can be a weird thing, which is definitely what these Italians are delivering on their debut album. It looks and feels like an ambient or electronic record, but it really has some harrowing passages and pounding sections that prove differently. It’s out for you to listen now and definitely for the more experienced ear a lust to witness.

Gabriele Gramaglia is the sole bandmember of Summit. His other project is the more bleak and heavy The Clearing Path, which plays more of an introverted, grim black metal. On this album he does everything by himself, offering something that he describes as progressive sludge that paints vistas of mountains and valleys, creating an overall overwhelming feel. There’s definitely something picturesque about the sound of Summit.

A sense of foreboding looms over the opening tones of ‘Hymn of the Forlorn Wayfarer’, which jangling guitars and a continuous pulsing build up by the rhythm section. It somehow disconnects you from reality and allows you to dream and imagine, but also pummels you relentlessly here and there. The artwork is also significantly different and evokes a more trancendental imagery.

Now, there’s something particular to the sound of the band, that really puts them in that post-metal corner of a Pelican. The languid passages more or less feel very postrocky, even bringing up a bit of Godspeed! You Black Emperor in their early days, like on ‘The Winds That Forestall Thy Return, Pt. I: A Gleaming Aurora In The Northern Skies’ (yeah, quite the title). Onwards then goes the album with gritty sludge, that is a bit like Neurosis for sure, but there’s more strangeness to offer.

‘Aeons Pass, Memories Don’t Fade’ is a repetitive ambient track, that may sound similar to the Burzum prison albums. Reverberating synthesizer tones, with drums on the background. It is a sound exemplary for the whole album, which features a a production that feels blunted in a sense, lacking the sharp edges. It’s so produced that it feels like an overall ambient-like album. It does truly help with that cosmic, cinematic feel as described by the bio, by stripping the sound from its earthy connotations. I think it’s a great record.

Sounds of the Underground #26

And we’re up to number 26 of Sounds of the Underground with Regarde Les Hommes TomberDraugurinnMisþyrming  and Gurthang. Check them out!

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber – EXILE
Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions

source: bandcamp

You only need to start listening to opener ‘L’Exil’ to get captivated by the soaring tremolo guitars and thundering rhythms, that crash like waves unto your eardrums. The Frenchies are back with a fenomenal record, casting a shadow over their self-titled debut, which I discussed in my very first review block. From the sludge/post-hardcore front the band was residing in before, there’s a definite movement here towards the black metal sound. Well, post-blackmetal is what we need to say I suppose.

The clanging cymbals in dischord with the blastbeat and crackling feedback offers a wealthy wall of sound. Connect that to the imposing vocals and sound and the record becomes an intense and bombastic experience. ‘Embrace the Flames’ is for example a full on black assault, with a harrowing guitar riff spiralling through it. There’s so much power to the music of this Nantes band, it’s a shame everyone keeps talking about the new deafheaven.

Misþyrming – Söngvar elds og óreiðu
Fallen Empire Records & Terratur Possessions

source: bandcamp

Icelandic black metal, that surely has something special about it they must feel at the Roadburn office. So these guys are an integral part of the next edition of the festival. This album came out earlier in 2015 and only now I’ve discovered the intense, excruciating sound of a band whose name means something like maltreatment. Neck breaking ferocious guitar riffs are unrelenting in their sonic assault from the first moments of the album onwards.

It’s a tortured affair of eerie feedback, blustering music and howled vocals. There are no breaks on the wheels of Misþyrming when the y star turning. There’s a certain unique sound to the band that is intriguing. An industrial, desolate atmosphere maybe, but also a Darkthrone like punk vibe that brings a rawness to the band. The sound is explosive, erupting from the deeps and therefor truly overwhelming at times. This is always accompanied by a clear link to the oldschool sound.

Draugurinn – Ísavetur
Nordvis

source; Bandcamp

‘The Ghost’ in Icelandic, this project is the solo effort of Swedish artist Dísa, previously active in black metal bands Murmurs and Korpblod and currently also working on Turdus Merula. This lady has been making some really amazing stuff and Draugurinn takes it a bit more into the mystical region of aetherial ambient with a shamanistic feeling to it. The story is that of a world covered and obscured by volcanic ash and a drumming that melds together with your heartbeat, captivating the listener completely.

There is something intensely pagan and foreign to the music, it draws you into a natural and soothing environment of ritual and dreams. Soundscapes or eerie howls clash with the rhythmic drums that bring a trance with them.  The cover appears like a drawing of Theodor Kittelsen, as popularized by early black metal acts like Burzum, but somehow fits better here. For me, this album awakens a thirst for that spiritual connection to nature, for the harmony I find in the work of Dísa, whose other bands I’ll definitely keep my eye on. PS, for Skyrim fans, now you now where the word Draugr comes from.

Gurthang – I will not serve
Immortal Frost Productions

source: bandcamp

The Polish band has derived their name from Tolkien novels, where the sword Gurthang is wielded by hero Túrin Túrumbar. It’s name means ‘Steel of death’. The band has been around forever and their sound fits in with the Polish style of blackened death you can hear with Behemoth. Cold, stiff tones, majestic sounding and sharp thudding rhythms. The band has been around for a couple of years, but has a prolific catalogue of music already. This may be their best addition as yet.

There’s a cold fury to the sound of Gurthang, a controlled distribution of rage with a sound that in general leans more towards the melodic death metal, but with a much grimmer atmosphere. The Frosty guitar riffs soar over the rumbling drums, which demonstrates how the studio can really affect the sound of an album in this corner of the extreme metal genre. There is a certain lack of dynamics to the record, but it’s in a way like a piece of old fashioned armor: it is sturdy, frightning and cold. Good record, that is exciting enough to give a spin.  

Sounds of the Underground #19

This time I listened to underground sounds by  sound artist Honda, ambient warriors Elador, black metal knight MoonKnight and the mighty Krallice. Plenty of stuff you should check out too.

Honda – Bells Beach

source: Bandcamp

I use a lot of means to find music, but rarely the search option on bandcamp. Today I did and I picked the ‘devotional’ category. I was expecting Jesus stuff. I got this wonderful minimal/ambient recording. It has two sides and is made by an artist named Celer, actual name William Thomas Long, who lives in Japan. It was made with a Roland MC-202 Microcomposer and field recordings. It feels like a travel record, a description of landscapes in an aural way.

Side A feels minimal, just little bells in a wide landscape where the wind is blowing. Playful moments are exchanged with mild ambient noise and gentle wavy sounds. The sound appears to be blowing away a little bit now and then, adding tot he organic feel of the music. Side B has those astral projection like synth rays, remniscent of krautrock and Jean Michel Jarre. Buzzing drones and twinkly keys fill the sound up, on this much more energetic and vibrant track. This record feels special, warm and pleasant. A recommended listen for late night reading or enjoying a drink without the TV on.

Elador – Expanses of Syrim 

source: bandcamp

Well, I’m a fan of Skyrim so I was intrigued if any concept band had been working on that theme this far. Sometimes you find the odd death metal band picking up on a thing like this. I found a load of covers or rip offs (some Vietnamese guy claims to be Lindsey Stirling). This Russian project is from Egor Morozov, who is inspired by epic ambient/medieval projects like Mantle Of Dust, soundtracks like those by Jeremy Soule (yes, Skyrim guy) and other similar projects. The logo’s used do show an influence from the black metal scene. Think Clanned, think Burzum… You’ve got it.

The soothing music feels cold at times, depicting the landscapes of Skyrima nd specific regions. The languid tones are nordic in atmosphere and other sound effects breathe life into the music by Elador. The gloomy ‘Folgunthur’ stands our for me, for its minimal and dark atmosphere, where the other tracks feel mildly playful. The trickling sound of ‘Snowfall in Winterhold’, the wavering of ‘Dawnstar’ and the gentle feel to the track ‘Rivenwood’, it all paints the landscape in aural perceptions. The latter makes you feel the gentle look, the simple habitations and the wind rustling through the trees. Elador captures Skyrims essence beautifully in this tribute.

MoonKnight – Valinor

source: bandcamp

This obscure one-man black metal band provides the listener with a particular dirty and grim type of black metal. MoonKnight is the project of Roach (James L. Brown) from Kentucky. Claiming to be influenced by Akita, Bone Awl and Ildjarn, this is the third full lenght from the project, after a series of splits. The sound is gritty, distorted and hazy. As if hearing music through a hail storm. The vocals therefor come from afar and the listener is challenged to really embrace the sound, entering the storm on opener ‘An Initiation’. It only clears up a bit when the intro notes of ‘Aconitum’ soar in, feeling cold and sharp.

The trebly, high guitar tones on ‘Helplessness’ create a cold atmosphere. The screeched vocals filled with despair, raging against that torrent of grainy sound that feels very lo-fi. The drum is just a rumble under your feet. Then there’s the warm rain of the title track, creating a strange after effect, following the bleak songs like ‘Broken Blade’ and the bludgeoning ‘Pleasure Funeral’. The slow epic final song is a crescendo to this powerful record. No need for tons of extra effects, synths. A one man metal band that knows how to make limitations in strenghts by not overdoing it. Thats why this is such a good record.

Krallice – Ygg Huur

source: bandcamp

Sure, I was going for somet different sounds this time, but then I came across thenew Krallice album. I used to think of Krallice as too fierce for my tastes, but the new Yorkers surprised with this new record. I always have a hard time with the word ‘hipster metal’. I feel it makes no sense when you deal with a band that creates atmosphere like the best of them. The sound is more clean, but just as harrowing. The jagged pace, keeps tensions high and creates a vibe of discomfort.

So, I couldn’t get into what they were doing before. I guess it was too smart, too complex and lacked a certain feel to it. That’s no what you get on Ygg Huur. Razing fast guitars, tremolo picking are enriched by deep emotions of despair and untamed wiredness. Blistering speed and incredible atmospheric wavering tremolo parts, generate an unheared of like vibe. Sudden assaults after seemingly ethearal calm. This is one amazing album. Clocking only 35 mins, nothing is overdone on this release. Everything in balance and fuck that hipster tag. Krallice know how to make a great record and put black metal on the road to recovery.

Sounds of the Underground #17

I’m revamping and reinvigorating my sounds of the underground with cool releases in different genres. This time I’m presenting you Oake, Robyn Cage, L’Enfant De La Forêt and Nordic Giants

Oake – Auferstehung

source: deejay.de

I’ve been reading a new magazine and it is exposing me to a lot of new music, that I wasn’t familiar with before. I’ve started listening to Oake, a duo that just happened to stumble upon cold electronics and industrial through a shared passion for the sound. Clinging to their hardcore and metal roots, they created a sound that has an uncanny resemblance to early industrial bands, adding a clear cut clean sound to that vibe.

The result is bleak and atmospheric industrial, leaning towards the experimental with scraping, slow elements but also the vocals of Bathseba Zippora adding an eerie vibe to the songs. The music is made by Eric Goldstein, who’s been around the scene for years. The music is repetitive, but always foreboding, creating a tension that feels like the climax is never far away. Pounding and splashing beats give that cold industrial feel to it that reminds you of  Cocteau Twins and Coil, though the band claims to not have known about these groups. They evoka a mythic feel and organic vibe with their industrial sound, which is helped by the mysterious titles and vocals. A pleasure to listen to.

Robyn Cage – Tales of a Thief

source: robyncage.com

Robyn Cage is a singer-songwriter from Utah, with a  pleasant sound and nice voice. This EP has a thin layer of fantasy weaved in the lyrics, Generally the feeling of the music is mellow and folky. Then again carnavalesque and slightly haunting. This is not an album for singer-songwriter fans, but lovers of stories in song, because that is what Cage is doing on this record. Telling small stories in a theatric manner, showing of her voice at times.

Personally, songs like ‘Theatre Noire’ don’t appeal to me in that. For me ‘The Arsonist & The Thief’ is the nicest song, due to its wordplay. It’s very enjoyable. Somewhere this nice lady reminds me of the stuff I used to listen to, with the playful vibe of Regina Spektor and a dab of Florence and the Machine. Quirky yet never a joke, this is definitely a nice record to listen on your own when you need to relax to some Vaudevillean tunes.

L’enfant De La Forêt – Abraxas

Source: Bancamp

Dark ambient filled with plenty of other influence, Abraxas is a dark entity. I picked this up as a random bandcamp I hit on the search field and this new release seemed to embody a bit of the black metal exterior that I enjoy. Found at the crossroads between industrial, trip hop and noise, this is an interesting find indeed.  The man behind L’enfant Du Forêt is James Kent making this a one man project, which in a way even  surprised me regarding the variety on the record.

I feel the vibe of some old, darker dubstep stuff and mayb a bit of that first the xx record in the laid back, throbbing vibe of the tracks. Ok, I did expect for a moment during the song ‘Pessimist’ to hear Falco start his ‘Jeannie’. The play with the quality is quit interesting in that track, taking it back to a bare sound, before launching into a fuller atmospheric sound with. The atmosphere at time is like that on the Burzum prison albums. That sound of desolation and mystery is quite amazing and captivating. Surprising finisher is ‘The Rope’, a bleak, soundscape twisting doom track with a blackened taste to it.

Nordic Giants – A Séance Of Dark Delusions

Source: bandcamp

When a band can make you taste the Nordic wastelands, they are surely doing something right. It’s  a part of their total art product, combining, film, performance, sound, costumes and vibe to a complete experience and I had never heard of them before. The duo hails from England and has been slowly conquering souls and minds with their amazing postrock albums since 2010. This is the most recent accomplishment, to be streamed on the more popular stations.

Orchestral and big, illed with detail, atmosphere and rising patterns, the vocals are samples that usually convey messages. It adds a layer of intensity, due to the nature of these samples. If they wouldn’t be there, the music still would be beautiful though. When the band does use vocals, they offer a whole new spectrum to the organic sound. Like on ‘Rapture’, which can be considered the peak of the mountain that is this record. Think Sigur Rós, think Explosions in the Sky and add a bit of Sólstafir to that mix and you have this excellent band. So when are they playing nearby? The album is one long journey through wide and spacious lands, haunting, impressive and beautiful. Don’t miss out on it.