QRD, Lost Kisses, Lycia, Plumerai, Origami Arktika, & mwvm

I hope everyone is doing well.   Feeling like life is on an up-swing myself.  Working on new stuff from all my personal projects as well as having a new signing we’ll be
announcing soon.

Meanwhile here’s the new stuff going on….

There’s some remix materials for the upcoming Remora – Mecha release on Centre of Wood.  Check it out here.

I just put up a little Lost Kisses documentary on YouTube.

As some of you are already aware, I have been doing some work on mastering records & helping with promotion of CDs.  If you or anyone you know might be interested in these services, please let me know.

Also I’m going looking for some folks interested in helping out as unpaid interns helping with highly specified projects in a timely manner (for example a month to do a 20 hour project).  Get to learn what’s really going on or improve your personal network if you are already running a label of your own.  Contact me if you’re interested.

QRD #38

webzineAn Indie Record Store Special interviewing owners some of our favorite record shops.

Lost Kisses #6 – Reasons to Run & Hide/Stay by Her Side
mini comicPro’s & con’s of an abusive relationship.

My favorite recent review of LK: “…a bizarre narcissistic hate-fest…” ~ Nick Marino, Nasty Musings

Some recent reviews:

Lycia – Cold
CD Album 2007 | Silber 061
9 tracks, 58 minutes

Lycia is the definitive artist of the 90′s for dark shoegaze and mournful ethereal electronica, and as you may know, Silber Media has been working effortlessly since releasing their last album “Empty Space” to re-release the band’s back catalogue, starting with Estella, on to The Burning Circle and then Dust, and now they have momentarily halted their work in 2007 with the re-release of one of the most appreciated and influential albums of the mid-90′s for dark souls all around the underground, Cold.

Lycia have been at the throne respectively as king and queen (as Mike Vanportfleet and Tara Vanflower) of the underground electronica, darkwave, and even metal scenes for almost two decades now.  Even one of the most common faces in the depressive black metal underground, Xasthur, admits that Lycia is one of the most influential artists to him as he came to know himself as a musician.  With “Cold”, originally released on America’s Projekt label in 1996, Lycia defined themselves as being at the forefront of the scene and as such solidified an already monstrous fanbase that has followed the band even into their quiet era here  in the new millenium.  Today it seems the band is still together, but being very quiet in their location in Arizona.  Band bassist David Galas has remained in Ohio and has recently released his first successful solo album on Vendlus Records entitled “The Cataclysm.”  His primary role on Cold was writing the tracks Colder and December, which turned out to be the most representative of his work today as a solo artist.

Of course, with a new label comes new artwork as well, and Silber Records have paid homage to the band and their bleak, minimal sound through the usage of the same techniques on this visual medium.  Using blurred dull pink and purple tones, the artwork is spacious and reflects nearly nothing inside its booklet other than the distorted imagery of tree branches in late Autumn.  The back of the booklet of course shows the production notes in as minimal a way as possible, as the back cover portrays the track listing and the label logo to the left of yet more distorted Autumn scenery.

All in all, this is a most worthy re-release for a band that has come to mean so much to all of us in the past two decades.  Silber Media has gone above and beyond in their search to re-release Lycia’s discography and one can only imagine the price they’ve paid to get the rights from Project.  In all, if Cold wasn’t already a perfect release, then Silber has gone above and beyond to give it the spotlight that it has deserved for so many years in the underground.  Here’s hoping for a few more re-releases before the label ends its quest.
~ Sage, Heathen Harvest

: Listen to the track bare
: More info
: Reviews

Plumerai: Without Number Plumerai – Without Number
CD Album 2007 | Silber 059
9 tracks, 45 minutes

Without Number is Plumerai’s first full length, after various compilation appearances, a MP3 release on Get Nice Records and their first hrad release; the Res Cogitans EP from 2006. Plumerai seems to be the usual band; guitar, bass, drums and vocals. However, there are a few touches that certainly make this band stand out from the crowd. First and foremost; Elizabeth Ezell’s vocals. They have been described as sultry; characterized by arousing passion. Her vocals are certainly warm and passionate, with a hint of rawness to give it just that personal touch. Other points that make this band stand out is the incorporation of various other instruments (accordion, guzheng, and more) and the mix up and influences of all kinds of genres. I depicted this as being ‘alternative rock’. While this genrefication (sic) is correct, it’s also an oversimplifiaction. Plumerai’s music ranges from ethereal rock to postrock to indierock with postpunk elements. It’s easy accessible, but also with great depth and alternation for such easy going music.

When I tuned this up for the very first time, I nearly headdesked during the very first seconds. My initial thought, and fear, was that this was some indie crap. Luckily I was disproven really quick. Plumerai’s music is by no means your basic run of the mill, premade and underproduced indie stuff. Instead they take it to a whole new level, leaving the mediocre slew of bands far behind. Also when it comes to the lyrics, it’s not your basic boyfriend/girlfriend/lost love and similar kind of songs, which always sound the same and lack inspiration. Instead, a track like Lavinia is inspired by a play from one of the greatest writers of all time; Shakespeare. Or the song Iris, which is about a lost friend, but instead of being whiney about the loss, it’s a tribute to the friend.

But it’s not all nice and cute songwriting on this album. Oh no, on a few occasions it’s downright heavy and instrumental rock, such as the highly entertaining Sin El Lagarto. Occasionally with the accordeon, which reminded me a bit of the unknown Dutch Forest Of The Tiny People. Martin Newman’s guitarplay fit perfectly alongside Elisabeth’s vocals, and on the other side are the deep and dark sounds of the bass played by James Newman. Lastly there’s Todd Richards on drums, who doesn’t want to show off his skills as much as possible, but just contributes in the best way to the music, providing the rhythms over which the songs on constructed and find their way into your ears.

In conclusion I must say that this was a nice experience and introduction to the band. Everyone who is interested in the alternative side of rock, such as, to throw in some names from the promotional paper; Portishead, The Cure, Radiohead, should definitely check this quartet out. Go to the Plumerai myspace, and have a listen. You won’t be disappointed.
~ Chawech, Heathen Harvest

: Listen to the track Home Again
: Press release
: Reviews

Origami Arktika: Trollebotn Origami Arktika – Trollebotn
CD Album 2007 | Silber 062
8 tracks, 49 minutes

For a fair decade and a half, Origami Arktika has been an ensemble, Norwegian musicians whose live performances throughout their country in recordings outstrip their official studio ones, shows of self-described “folk collage and stage presence”. Trollebotn, their latest studio recording affords a more live feel, with the recording intimate stripped back otherworldly folk drawn from traditional music and instrumentation.

Inspired by the mythical and geographically located region of Trollebotn in Norway, a region perched on the rim of the world literally and figuratively, where trolls and giants are said to dwell – though in our world it is more the bourne of closeted tradition that was little marred by modern contrivances and it is these traditions that Origami Arktika have reaped in order of some preservation of dying old ways. Recorded on an island overlooking Trollebotn the ensemble has immersed their selves in a unique mindset for the album.

Water and wood echo, crackle and peel in the background, the musicians engaged in casual hubbub as the first track opens like a tuning session that layers sonorous strings like an impending acoustic SWANS number, replete with looming crescendo as the ensemble sequester agitated shadows in the empty places ‘tween the sounds: sparse spaces speaking volumes. The vocals of Rune Flaten are unexpected and silken, purling Norwegian lyrics with a dreamy elegance. It’s not all mysticism and magic as the second track proffers a more folky pop presence with earthen traditional folk overtones while the third track breaks into a light drum and bass beat electronic.

The underlying ambient and acoustic experimentation is perhaps at its best when not flitting about in the occasional aforementioned bursts of light with the uncertainty and occluded tracks of Trollebotn bespeaking more interest, especially with such a thematical premise in mind. Songs that creep with the rustle of beads and clop with wooden blocks, while not menacing or dark, edge you nearer that mythical realm than its real-world counterpart.

‘Trollebotn’ is a simple jewel case with a full colour one-sided tray and silk-screened disc with a twelve page stapled booklet that provides not only the Norwegian lyrics, but also proffers a handy interpretative text with each song for the English-only impaired. A two page spread details the mythical realms of ‘Trollebotn’.
~ Symbolique, Heathen Harvest

: Listen to the track anne sit heim
: Press release
: Reviews

mwvm – rotations
CD Album 2007 | Silber 063
10 tracks, 61 minutes

MWVM consists of Michael Walton, a one-man sonic machine hailing from Ireland’s County Durham. Beginning around 1996, Michael started honing his craft, writing music and exploring his musical boundaries and expanding his creativity. In 2005 Walton evolved into MWVM. After recording a couple demo EPs and piquing the interest of some labels who knew good music when they heard it, Walton settled with an independent label in Raleigh, North Carolina: Silber Records, the label that has just released his debut full-length CD, entitled Rotations.

When listening to this CD one gets a sense of some of his influences such as Brian Eno’s ambient works (i.e., Music for Airports), Moebius, Can and Henry Cow: pioneering prog-rock/ambient bands and artists. More contemporary influences could be Tortoise, Remora and Aphex Twin, but without the freneticism of the latter. But make no mistake, MWVM has a unique sound, it is all-Michael Walton; it’s neither derivative nor a “been-there-done-that” disc. MWVM’s work comes off as a man who is a loner, an introverted guy; one who spends his free-time coming up with drifting, lilting, beautiful soundscapes that are apparent on Rotations.

This CD is defined by its swirling, deeply-textured harmonies that use guitar synthesizers and keyboards and which is devoid of percussion; some examples of this includes “Celestial Motion”, “Oratory Clout” and the opening cut, “Context, Where?”, a song whose title blithely sizes up the mood of the rest of the CD. Rotations is the type of disc that one puts on and listens to straight through – no “singles” here, just the perfect type of atmospheric music, an environmental backdrop that is hypnotic, mesmerizing and the perfect lullaby for an overworked, stressed out life.

Don’t expect any dance music or pop stuff on this CD. Rotations is the quintessential ambient classic-to-be; helpful for peaceful entrancement or meditation. It will help you clear your mind of all the racing thoughts and noise in your head.
~ Blond Adonis, Heathen Harvest

The field of guitar atmospherics, of treated tones and delay-drizzled drones, has become increasingly populous. There’s a lineage here traceable from Fripp&Eno’s early 70s proto-ambience through Durutti’s echoplex-doodlings to MBV’s shoegaze-haze at either end of the 80s. But it’s the Kranky clan whose legacy has most fuelled the current crop, among whom find mwvm. Rotations, the debut full-length from mwvm, County Durham-based guitar manipulator Michael Walton, adds itself to the recent build-up of releases from relative tyros like Chris Herbert, Apalusa, and Gareth Hardwick. Artists like these evidence a thriving UK drone-ambient scene to rival that of our transatlantic brethren – the Stars of the Lids, the Windy & Carls, and other Kranky types.

“Context. Where?” opens in downbeat post-rock progressions laced with blithe, almost pastoral backwoods slide/pedal steel, before withdrawing to a pensive “Fireside” – a series of upswells from and fall-aways into tremulous space. “It’s Easy to be Miserable” shifts sonic paradigm to more ominous drone territory, touching the void evoked by deeper ambient-spacers like Robert Rich, or the post-industrialisms of Malignant and Cyclic Law, summoning up a mighty racket before it’s sucked into a vacuum. “Negative Pole” crawls out from inky depths, arcing towards light in the same kind of languorous balletics as SotL (hello, again). The soundfield fizzes with the fuzz’n’buzz of electrified steel vibrations, layers of shimmering metallics and tremeloed organ-like sustain cycling across tracks like “Celestial Motions”. Evidently mwvm, like his keynote influence, is made happy by tape hiss, or rather its simulacra – electronic static and tuned air, which pervades these tableaux. The title track hoves into view with the clearest of nods to early Kranky, further embellished by some keening Polmo Polpo-esque lap steel. The epic “Oratory Clout” spools out a stately theme that betrays its origins as the love child of early Pan•American and GYBE!, Walton summoning mounting waves of glacial breakers to wash over chilly hibernal tundras, while “Sleepy Crayfish” – with nice use of discreet field recordings – gazes beatifically once more at those Stars. “Windows” is an effective contrast to the preceding more elaborated arrangements, exploring the timbral aspects of decay and delay vapour trails, accentuating the zinging resonance of a single tone’s aperture and closure through effects and exponential reverberation. There’s a certain unself-conscious compositional craft at work here that allows pieces to breathe as if in meditative mode (though not precluding the triumphal swell or the odd grandiose upsurge), whilst insisting they not sprawl into dronal endlessnessism. Case in point the gorgeous lyrical ebb and flow of “Never Constant” – barely 3 minutes of such sad-happy winsomeness you forget its thralldom to forebears – just folding you in to float with its lulling layers of lilt. A perfect near-happy ending without being inauthentic to the affective parameters of the set’s moody-eerie wistful-melancholic lines.

In terms of experimentalism, mwvm is a less Out-There operator than other celebrated guitar-toting drone-basers like Fennesz, Oren Ambarchi, and Machinefabriek. These wilder frontiersmen tend to allow the listener the sugar-rush of romanticist dynamics (ebb-flow, surge-relent) only as coating to a pill of post-digital detritus and aleatory abrasivity, making it a spiky sweet to swallow. In contrast, Rotations, for all its alterations of sonorous state, has an appealing fidelity, cleaving to the sounding essence of electric guitar qua guitar, while still remaining open to the accidental harmonics and timbre-blurring arising from the felicitous encounter between fret-and-fingerboard, effect-mediated amplification, and post-performance recording archaeology.
~ Alan Lockett, furthernoise.org

: Listen to the track context. where?
: More info
: Reviews

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