So here’s the latest Silber news….
Remora is going to be in Pittsburgh, Bloomington (Indiana), & Cleveland next week. Check out the calendar.
Working on new issues of Lost Kisses, xo, & QRD. More on those soon. Below are a ton of recent reviews.
Brian John Mitchell
Speaking of Lycia, Silber Records reissue project (or should that be projekt?) continues on with what many consider their most important release, Cold. At the time, the release did garner them a bit of attention, both for its beauty and excellence and because their label was enjoying a bit of critical acclaim. I know that of Lycia’s output, Cold was certainly a favorite, because I was going through a phase of cold, dark music. (Well, I had to have something to go along with my black candles, my bowls of incense, and my wonderful portraits of Ian Curtis! (That’s not a lie, either.) I would simply put this record on between The Moon and the Melodies and The White Arcades, and I’d simply let my mind float into the coldest depths of sonic space. I don’t know what happened, but the record simply disappeared from my collection, and, well, as one often does, I moved on. But listening to it again, a decade later, I remember why I loved it. It doesn’t get me as cold as it used to; instead, it makes me feel warm and happy inside, as I think back to my younger days. Oh, and I love the song “December,” in part because, well, it sounds a lot like Madonna’s “Live to Tell!”
~ Joseph Kyle, Press Play Record
MWVM is the musical project of Michael Walton. This Englishman releases his debut “Rotations” on Silber Records label. As early as 1996 did he begin with making music, but he took him a full decade to create his first demos. The music press was very enthusiastic about this work and Michael Wlaton played several festivals and was signed to Silber Records. And now he brings us his first full-length. And it is a beauty! “Rotations” is a delightful album that reminds us directly of the music of Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai and Fear Falls Burning: beautifully spun out guitar drones with a lot of loops, reverbs and different melodies intertwined. Ten of these masterpieces are pressed on this disc and they all come with appropriate song titles: ‘Context.Where?’, ‘It’s Easy To Be Miserable’, ‘Celestial Motion’, ‘Oratory Clout’ and ‘Never Constant’. The album has no lesser parts and never loses interest. The tension is coherently high, without getting irritating or too worked-up. “Rotations” can be played in the background and a serene mood is guaranteed. This album can also be played with full volume and then you really can get pleasanlty lost in the repetitions and spherical flow of the songs. Some time ago a saw Fear Falls Burning as an opening act before Cult Of Luna. This Belgian guy pleasantly surprised me with showing the audience how a strong and convincing guitar drone is created on stage. When I listen to “Rotations” – lying on my back strechted out on my heavenly blue carpet with my cat purring on my chest – I’m getting very curious as to how MWVM creates his tracks. It makes me look forward to future releases and also to hopefully some live shows performed by this County Durham based sound magician.
~ Ergo, Gothtronic
ELECTRIC BIRD NOISE: FRAGILE HEARTS…FRAGILE MINDS
Electric Bird Noise’s Fragile Hearts…Fragile Minds (No More Stars Records) is another pleasant surprise, displaying Brian McKenzie’s subtle guitar experimentalism. He seems to be determined to further develop the hypnotic minimalism and atmospheric drones of Brian Eno and Cluster and in most cases does so quite successfully. There’s a lovely directness and spontaneity written all over this album that just glides along its sad melodies but also provides a warm, dense blanket perfect for tucking you in at night. This is rich and emotional tone abstraction celebrating the fall at its very best. ~ Mats Gustafson, Broken Face
ORIGAMI ARKTIKA: TROLLEBOTN
With a line-up compiled by members from Motorpsycho, Salvatore and many others the Norwegian Origami Arktika has a lot of musical influences which defines the typical sound they make. Its concoction is a mixture of ambient noise, post rock, drone, electro-acoustics mixed with traditional Norwegian folk. With the unique sound they make the have managed to spell the listener and release their seventh album called Trollebotn. This album has been recorded as much as possible in the open air to truly capture nature’s mystique. Trollebotn therefore can be seen as a mythical and geographical landscape. It sources from songs and legend. As Origami Arktika themselves describe that Trollebotn is situated on the brim of the world, across wide water, where the trolls and mountain giants live. The songs on this album are tales of lust, deceit, dancing, drinking, murder and giants. Despite of these themes the character of this album is quite dreamy and feels like melting away in a scenery slowly observing nature’s course and its strange inhabitants handle life in their wicked way. The album has become quite diverse; from ambient soundscapes to passages which are more folky …it’s all there and sounds as a coherent whole. It is not an easy album to grasp, and its true qualities will show after a few spins, but when you manage Origami Arktika has a sight to show you which you will enjoy thoroughly. An interesting album for fans of the genre.
The story about how this album came to be is just as odd and interesting as the music itself. The folks in Origami Arktika traveled to a small island that overlooks the mythic city of Trollebotn in Norway. Once they got their equipment set up, they recorded their versions of traditional folk songs from the area…often incorporating the natural sounds of the wilderness around them into the recordings. The result…is a strange and unusual collection of tunes that stray far, far, far from the beaten path. Because of the odd, obtuse nature of this music, our guess is that this CD will have a very limited appeal. After all, how many friends do you know who can’t wait to get their hands on the latest copy of a CD that features forgotten folks songs from the mythic city of Trollebotn? Probably not too many (!). One thing is for sure…this album doesn’t sound the least bit like anything else we have heard this year. Thus, because originality is indeed one of the greatest traits of interesting music, we most heartily recommend this to folks into adventurous and unusual music. Extremely unorthodox.
From the extended family tree of Origami, the one that is called Origami Arktika is in my eyes the one that is musically the most accessible one. No laptops, no noise, no harshness. Origami Arktika is a kind of big band including members from Kobi, Del, Motorpsycho, Salvatore and founding member Tore Boe. They play a wide variety of instruments, such as guitars, drums, organ, bass but also strange objects. Trollebotn is a remote area in Norway, with their own strong traditions. Somewhere in the booklet there is a picture of a shed. Perhaps the recording studio? The music evolves around the voice of Rune Flaten, who recites rather than sings the lyrics. They are of course in Norwegian. Origami Arktika apparently improvises freely around those lyrics. Slow and intimate music this is, and it’s great, but but but – it starts sounding the same after a while. That is the great weakness of this album. I couldn’t help thinking after the fifth song, alright, I get your drift. Maybe it’s best to play this in a few parts anyway… But some of it at a time is truly beautiful.
~ Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
PLUMERAI: WITHOUT NUMBER
Mainstream indie rock has had its time to shine in the past couple of years, but much of the genre is starting to hinder on becoming old news with very similar sounds. However, outside of the more mainstream radio world there are still plenty of indie bands finding ways to keep their style fresh enough to appeal to a wide variety of listeners. Plumerai is one of those groups, combining a rock sound with drone and trip hop influences, almost like an American bred Portishead. With catchy, electronic hooks and a large and encompassing sound Plumerai’s debut Without Number is sure to please. One might be wondering how the drone style can be brought into a traditional rock band, but this group has managed to make it work. Plumerai takes an indie rock style base with melodic and slower guitar works and turns them into a slow groove via the implementation of electronics and repetition of various sounds. Though some drone can seem repetitious to listeners, the combination of repeating melody coupled with the seductive vocals (which I’ll mention in detail shortly) work to create a very listenable combination. The instrumentals also have a distinctive electronic vibe to them, at times almost feeling like a more rock oriented Portishead. Vocalist Elizabeth Ezell has an extremely powerful and seductive voice that helps to carry Without Number along for the listener. Ezell’s style is very melodic, and always complements the band’s instrumental style without completely overpowering it. However, this is not to say that her vocals feel as though they are in the background. Rather, it sounds as though Ezell is singing with an encompassing wave of sound surrounding her, which is absolutely perfect. Without Number is an excellent album that takes the spirit of rock and adds the encompassing energy of a drone release, resulting in a release that will hook listeners and keep them absorbed in its sound waves for quite some time. It may be a little different and certainly a little more up-tempo than some of the other releases on Silber Records, but Plumerai’s music is still a perfect fit for the label. This is one band that is different enough to appeal to drone fans while still up-tempo enough to appeal to more mainstream listeners, and that in itself is a dazzling combination.
~ Chris Dahlberg, Cosmos Gaming
Plumerai is a band from Boston, consisting of Elizabeth Ezell (vocals), Martin Newman (guitars), James Newman (bass) and Todd Richards (drums). Silber describes this as a cross-over between PJ Harvey, Portishead, The Cure, The Cranes, Radiohead and Gogol Bordello; is that outside the wide territory usually covered here or not? Ezell’s voice is indeed like Portishead, Harvey but also Bjork like. As far as the music goes, and overseeing my limited knowledge of all the references mentioned, I must say I thought it was all quite enjoyable. Plumerai play emotional rock music, even when I don’t understand what all the lyrics are about, but I’m sure it’s all emotional stuff (sensing from the way they are sung), the music is tight, and, hurray, there is also a sense of experimentalism, allowing other instruments to be part of it, like keyboards and accordion. It would all make more sense to me if I was hearing this twenty-five years ago, but even in this day and age I quite like it.
~ Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
It’s been just a year and a few months since I heard Plumerai’s exciting EP ‘Res Cogitans,’ and have since eagerly awaited the bands next release. ‘Without Number’ is the second full length from Plumerai and it contains five new songs, three of the four songs from the Res Cogitans EP, and a cover of Remora’s ‘Kill My Way Outta Here.’ Musically it’s the same sort of ethereal pop/rock with influences ranging from the indie, Goth, alternative, and post punk genres, though as I’ve said before I find Plumerai hard to pinpoint. One thing is for sure, and that is that the new songs contain the same sort of catchiness and stunning vocal work that was found on last years EP. Initally I thought the three songs from Res Cogitans were exactly the same songs, but as it turns out ‘Illuminata’ has a shortened intro, ‘Avernal’ is completely re-recorded and uses some new instruments, while ‘En Vole’ is remixed in some parts only. The cover of Remora I like because it has the same sort of minimal sound as the original although it sounds considerably different hearing a female sing the words and the fact that the music consists of just bells and an accordion. Although a decent recording it would have been more pleasing to hear eight new songs and a cover rather than five new songs, three old songs and a cover song. Even so Plumerai’s second album is good and should be investigated by those that enjoyed their earlier work or any of the musical genres I mentioned above.
~ Joseph Mlodik, Lunar Hypnosis
A Boston four-piece led in the highs and lows, Plumerai owes its measured intensity to bassist James Newman, who gives the band’s art-rock dioramas a thick, popping backbone influenced by dub and British dance. The surface comes equally equipped, shaped as it is by Elizabeth Ezell, whose tense air could make a whisper sound like a threat of seduction.
~ Grayson Currin, The Independent
Sometimes when you listen to an band, you get the feeling that whoever is behind the amp is an accomplished, skilful musician. The technical precision of every chord and beat is unquestionable, and it’s clear they practiced for years to become so good. Remora’s not that kind of band. Let’s say music has among others 2 axes, skill and quality – not intimately connected, but not mutually exclusive. The Mars Volta, to take one example, is clearly high on skill and, in my opinion, medium on quality due to spotty, overindulgent songwriting. Kepler would be medium on skill and high on quality – no complicated guitar riffs there. Remora, now, would probably be low on skill and high on quality. This music is not complicated by any means, but the musician has an innate sense of how to make it sound good. Take the first song, “The One I’ve Been Waiting For.” This song is extremely repetitive – that guitar part you’ll hear doesn’t change at all the whole time. I could play this song on my guitar, and I’m terrible. Of course, that didn’t stop the song from being stuck in my head for two months while I was travelling and didn’t have it. The music is just kind of raw and basic, like an apple – and there are times when I would prefer a delicious apple over a savory feast. The rest of the album certainly follows this example – simple, repetitive, but beautiful and sort of primally engaging. Some of the songs are instrumentals, which Remora have more practice with if their discography is any indication, and they’re very nice. “Sorry” is a great example, a sort of cross between Frost and a sinister Windy & Carl. The other tracks with vocals are hit-and-miss; I like “Kill My Way Out Of Here,” but another could just as easily despise it for being sort of over-the-top Tom Waits wannabeism. The singer doesn’t have a particularly good voice, but when he uses it correctly it sounds fine, and anyway the vocals have no great claim to the music – they’re there, but they’re not primary. You’ll get an idea of whether you like Remora or not pretty much from one listen. I personally got hooked right away, but I won’t be sad if you decide it’s not for you. Take these sample songs and enjoy, and if you want to check out some more, go to Remora’s website where they have more songs and a free EP.
BLACK HAPPY DAY: IN THE GARDEN OF THE GHOSTFLOWERS
Black Happy Day is a collaboration of Tara VanFlower (Lycia) and Timothy Renner (Stone Breath), and if you know these two artists, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what a combination would sounds like. In the Garden of Ghostflowers is a strange and original mixture of traditional song (in wyrdfolk style), cold darkwave, and further experiments. Not your everyday concept, in short, but Tara and Timothy make it work nonetheless. “The Leaves of Life” starts off the album with the two contrastive voices singing in unison – Timothy’s dark and low, Tara’s high and clear – both delayed and reverbed. The manipulation of vocals returns often throughout the album, enhancing the ghostly air that hangs about much of this music. The title track introduces the banjo, which provides a backdrop for Tara’s voice which now rises in pitch. The third track, however, is different again. “Whore” is a dark, minimal ambient piece, with Tara’s manipulated voice approaching the style of someone like Jarboe. Very gloomy and atmospheric. This interchanging of styles continues throughout the album, providing a lot of variation. I won’t dissect every song, but some deserve special mention. The traditional “Edward” unites the styles of the first two tracks into a wyrdfolk duet with strange effects lurking beneath the surface. “How many hours ’til the Spider’s work is done?” is one of my favourite tracks of the album, a long meditative piece with impressive vocals (once again calling to mind Swans), sitar, and a dark layers of bass. The last two tracks end the album on a happier note. “Hand in Hand” is a sweet little duet, while “Be Thou My Vision” is a hopeful devotional song. In the Garden of Ghostflowers is a very original and varied album. I can’t explain why exactly, but for some reason I don’t ‘dig’ this album as much as I would expect based on the sound and elements used. Nevertheless, this is good stuff, and if anyone is looking for an original approach to modern and traditional song, with a touch of darkwave and dark atmospheres, this is an excellent album to check out.
~ Evening of Light