Saturday, November 18, 2017 0 Engineers

Streaming: Slow Meadow - Costero


Band: Slow Meadow
Album: Costero
Label: Hammock Music
Year: 2017








Tracklist
01. Ships Along The Harbor
02. Boy In A Water Globe
03. Borderland Sorrows
04. Cielo Rojo
05. Brazos Fantasmas
06. Viejo Carrusel
07. Lamellophone And The Gulf Of Mexico
08. Quintana
09. Hurricane
10. Palo Volador
11. The Tragedy Of The Commons - Live Version (Bonus Track)
Streaming / Buy

The Houston multi-instrumentalist Matt Kidd, who writes pastoral, deeply felt compositions as Slow Meadow, will release the 43-minute LP Costero on November 17. The 10-song effort is Kidd’s second as Slow Meadow, arriving two years after the 33-year-old’s debut on the Hammock Music label, a relationship that bloomed when Hammock’s Marc Byrd and Kidd forged an online bond over tastes and ideas from their respective homes in Tennessee and Texas.

Despite initially having minor recognition outside Houston — where glacial, melancholic, piano-centered sound experiments aren’t the city’s chief concern — Kidd’s 2015 debut was still eagerly received by critics like Echoes’ John Diliberto, who elevated Slow Meadow on the same storied Public Radio International show that’s featured Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, John Cage, and other lions of experimental music. The record also garnered him an entrenched and growing following on Spotify and Bandcamp, where Slow Meadow listeners were treated to several two-song “singles” between Kidd’s full-length ruminations — setting the stage for Costero to be greatly anticipated in ambient, modern composition, and experimental music circles.

Costero, Spanish for “coastal,” is a spare and wistful collection of sketches for piano and string quartet — yet it’s also immutably lush. This is largely due to the crater-deep wells of feeling Kidd draws from a small roster of players, but the composer’s skill with programming embellishments also augurs a sense of spaciousness and wonder. Satie and Debussy alight on the mind as, say, “Ships Along the Harbor,” “Borderland Sorrows,” and “Lamellophone and the Gulf of Mexico” issue their felt, poignant tidings. One also hears in Kidd’s soft focus motifs connections to contemporary minimalists such as Rachel’s, Balmorhea, Goldmund, or Berlin’s Nils Frahm.

Kidd’s 2015 debut utilized a similar palette, except its mellifluous, textured sheen more readily evoked traditional guitar- and piano-centered ambient music. Stars of the Lid and Benoît Pioulard came to mind, as were gorgeous, bare bones scores by Coen Brothers-favorite Carter Burwell. Squint your eyes when listening to Costero, however, and you’re just as likely to set aloft in a smoky, blue-souled, war-torn parlor of 19th-century vintage as you are anywhere in 21st century America. The record is far more “classic” in that sense, blurring our sense of era and location: The Romantics of Chopin’s Paris would’ve liked Costero’s tiny majesties as much as the heavy-minded aesthetes of today’s self-serious experimental music scenes.

Still, the record does have a loose geographic fixation. Kidd tracked a pristine string quartet at Sonic Ranch, a palatial Texas studio on the border of the Rio Grande and Mexico that’s surrounded by pecan orchards. Among others, the 2300-acre complex has also been utilized for records by Beach House, Swans, and Explosions in the Sky. And Costero’s song titles — many of which are in Spanish, nodding to the influence of Kidd’s bilingual Houston, his Puerto Rican grandfather, and the influence on Kidd of myriad Latin American musicians — evoke in both word and feeling images of the Southwest.

“Brazos Fantasmas,” for instance, refers to the mighty Brazos River, an iconic body of water that slithers through east and west Texas and which has served a mythic function since early Spanish settlers coined it Rio de los Brazos de Dios, or "The River of the Arms of God." The final track, “Palo Valodor,” refers to an ancient ritual that takes place at Mexico’s Teotihuacan pyramids and other historic locations in Latin America. By chance, Kidd witnessed the Danza de los Voladores at the pyramids in 2016, and the twinkling flute sounds we hear at the end of Costero were sourced from that moment: A separate culture recalling a long gone civilization, yet mirroring a universal searching and celebration of the unknown.

Then, In Kidd’s native tongue, there’s “Hurricane” and “Lamellophone and the Gulf of Mexico,” evoking a retinue of coastal images and metaphors, as well as specific memories and methods of remembering in Kidd. As philosophical concerns, Costero, Slow Meadow, and Kidd’s litany of singles often wrestle with disillusion, with breaking from distorted ways of perceiving that which one might have once held most dear.

These ideas, and Kidd’s sense of literal and figurative place, were gorgeously rendered in Costero’s layout by the French illustrator Jan Garet. Kidd was inspired by the work Garrett did for the album Summerhouse by the Paris band Concorde, and, on Costero, Garrett masterfully distilled Kidd’s philosophical concerns in miniature, all fine black ink fizzling atop sand-hued blankets. The effect — permeating 10 separate images — further instills a clear-eyed yet tangled vision of youth, love, power, and beauty.

“What does it mean to remember one’s favorite coastlines, when my memory wants me to forget the chemical plants, the fluorescent lights, the stench?” Kidd wondered in a recent conversation. “Many of the beaches I grew up visiting are at the center of a gross, capitalist trade-off, so a song like ‘Ships Along the Harbor’ is about reckoning with your memory of a place and the reality of it. Maybe it’s not as beautiful as you recall. I’m not interested in conveying a literal activist stance through my work, but that's where my head was at.”

This tension between what we know and what we think we know — as scientific, philosophical, spiritual, and humanistic concerns — pervades conversation with Kidd. He’s just as primed to digress on the writer Alan Watts and the physicist Leonard Susskind as he is on musical influences, and Kidd says he found scientific lectures and travel more clarifying than anything else while making Costero.

Kidd also shares that two trips to a friend’s home outside Birmingham, Alabama, also brought Costero into focus. The first was incidental: During the spring of 2016, while navigating northeast on a short tour to New York, he spent the evening toying with an upright piano that lay largely unplayed in a corner of the remote Southern home. Costero was an unnamed, distant fixture at that point, but the solitary experience — removed from the pressure of tracking on deadline at a studio with the pedigree of Sonic Ranch — stuck with Kidd. So much so that he returned there with two of his favorite Coles microphones later to capture the piano movements that would accompany the strings he’d captured in Texas.

“By nature, I'm a solitary person,” Kidd says. “Before Birmingham, I hadn't given myself enough of that writing space. The upright felt so intimate., and it has such gorgeous voice. Playing it put me in the right space to think about Costero.”

These 10 songs — wordless, sighing, hopeful — will inevitably create their own meaning for listeners, outside that which stuck with Kidd over the past two years. They’re meditations on the smear of inner feeling, the magnificent and tortured ways in which our bodies and minds interact in a dance that’s both heartbreakingly limited and wondrously limitless. They are earthy, noiseless, focused gestures for a world that’s suffocating from the lack of them.

Slow Meadow’s Costero was produced, arranged, and mixed by Matt Kidd, with additional production help from Hammock. Maxine Kuo and Joanna Becker played violin; Yvonne Smith played viola; and Aimee Norris played cello. (Cello on “Palo Volador” was performed by Katie Ferrell.) Jay Snider contributed drums to “Cielo Rojo.” Costero was mastered by James Plotkin. The record will be released on vinyl and digitally, with one additional song, on November 17.

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Friday, November 17, 2017 0 Engineers

Recommendation: Outlander - Downtime b​/​w Plans EP


Band: Outlander
Album: Downtime b​/​w Plans EP
Label: Self Released
Year: 2017








Tracklist
01. Downtime
02. Six
03. Plans
Download

Outlander is an instrumental post-rock band from Birmingham, UK.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017 0 Engineers

Recommendation: Grandbrothers - Open


Band: Grandbrothers
Album: Open
Label: City Slang
Year: 2017








Tracklist
01. 1202
02. Bloodflow
03. From A Distance
04. Long Forgotten Future
05. Honey
06. Alice
07. White Nights
08. Circonflexe
09. Sonic Riots
10. London Bridges
Streaming / Buy

Grandbrothers are Erol Sarp and Lukas Vogel. After meeting at university in Dusseldorf, Erol and Lukas formed Grandbrothers to tie together their respective musical backgrounds and disciplines: Erol is a trained jazz pianist, while Lukas constructs synthesizers at Access Music. Together, they create a sound that combines classical composition with modern, experimental production and sound design.

For fans of Ólafur Arnalds, Ben Lukas Boysen.

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Monday, November 13, 2017 0 Engineers

Video: Amenra - A Solitary Reign

Thursday, November 09, 2017 0 Engineers

Album: Pettersson - Rift And Seam


Band: Pettersson
Album: Rift And Seam
Label: I.corrupt Records, (We Built The World And) Miss The Stars Records, Hardcore For The Losers, Structures // Agony Records, Samegrey Records, My Name Is Jonas Diy & Co., Time As A Color, One Wild Collective, Krimskramz, Upwind Productions, Longrail Records
Year: 2016


Tracklist
01. Ben
02. Infirm
03. White Birch
04. Interlude
05. Spiro, Spero
06. Helicobacter
07. All Is Lost
08. Kalk
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Pettersson play very emotional post-hardcore/screamo. The mix of singing and screaming vocals reminds me of bands like Suis La Lune, Pianos Become The Teeth, Funeral Diner or Envy while the instrumental is worked out so well that you couldn't believe that this is recorded by only three people. Rift And Seam is Pettersson's first release.

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Sunday, November 05, 2017 0 Engineers

Streaming: VVilderness - Devour The Sun + Instrumental Version


Band: VVilderness
Album: Devour The Sun
Label: Self Released
Year: 2017








Tracklist
01. Starless Dark
02. Sól
03. Devour The Sun
04. Life
05. New Earth
06. Aftershine
Streaming / Buy | Mirror


Band: VVilderness
Album: Devour The Sun (Instrumental)
Label: Self Released
Year: 2017







Tracklist
01. Starless Dark_
02. Sól_
03. Devour The Sun_
04. Life_
05. New Earth_
06. Aftershine_
Download

VVilderness is the black metal alter ego of the man behind Release The Long Ships. With a minimal studio equipment, a guitar, a microphone and a computer, he managed to release a great black metal album that doens't lack anything.

If on the other hand growling vocals aren't your thing, you can still listen to the instrumental version of it.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017 0 Engineers

Recommendation: Afformance - Music For Imaginary Film #1 / Pop Nihilism


Band: Afformance
Album: Music For Imaginary Film #1
Label: United We Fly
Year: 2017







Tracklist
01. Intro
02. Sol In The Woods
03. Sol In The Battlefield
04. Anapaest
05. Aftermath
06. Sailor's Abandoned Ship
07. ...Or Maybe It's Not
08. 619
Streaming / Buy


Band: Afformance
Album: Pop Nihilism
Label: United We Fly
Year: 2017








Tracklist
01. Perspectivism
02. Youth Corrupter
03. Here, Now, A Million Years
04. Open Mind
05. Past Forward
06. Auto Reject / Self Validate
07. No Point Return
Streaming / Buy

Afformance have formed back in 2005. Since then, they have appeared in numerous live shows in Greece, but also in Switzerland and Turkey (often supporting bands such as Grails, Jenniferever, Maybeshewill etc), they have done a mini tour with fellow Nechayevschina to promote their debut full-length “A Glimpse To The Days That Pass”. Giving an end to their short break that followed, the alt./post-rockers Afformance celebrated the release of their new single-sided 12" EP "The Place" (including the score of the same-titled dance/theater performance) with a tour in the Balkans and Europe which found them to share the stage of Dunk! Festival in Belgium with important bands as iLikeTrains, pg.lost, Balmorhea, Maserati, Kokomo, Kwoon and many others. They released a digital EP release including remixes on released and unreleased songs by close friends and themselves, which is available through their bandcamp page. Their second full length album "Through Walls" was released in 2015.

With a strong attention to the harmonic musical content and the rich ambience of their previous material, with a new more straight-forward musical approach and with a fresh apettite to present their brand new material to old and new friends, Afformance have finally returned more creative and more active than ever with their double release!

“Music For Imaginary Film #1” is the perfect description for the album’s content itself. “ A story of a man who's trying to escape from a big forest he is trapped in and in his way out solves out many mysteries about his self and an unexplored world that surrounded him. This is a metaphorical story about a person who is deserted in his micro-world unable to understand or think what is really happening in real life. These 8 songs unfold the mental and physical stages the main character passes through from the state of oblivion till the realization of his illness.”

“Pop Nihilism” is –just like the title itself states- an ode to darkness and introversion, embraced by a pop texture, and this is no surprise, given the fact that Afformance was always intrigued by the expression of such feelings and mental states. Being multi-faceted, darkling and mellow, “Pop Nihilism” is influenced and driven by post rock, indie, ambient, modern and classic pop music, and can easily be considered as the most mature release to date by this impressively talented collective, from Athens, Greece.

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