Music InWallved – Orange Album

Music InWallved - Orange AlbumSome countries are just proving to be breeding grounds for talented post-rock bands. The US has its fair share, of course England and Japan do as well. Russia has made quite a presence over the past few years, and any list of countries spawning notable post-rock bands wouldn’t be complete without Iceland (even if only for Sigur Ros, though there are certainly others who are more than worth mentioning). When you go down this list of countries and the number of noteworthy post-rock bands (you know, the list that I just made up about 20 seconds ago), you don’t really see Lithuania on there. Like, at all. If “Orange Album”, the debut from Music InWallved (which has been in the works for 5 years!) is any indication, you might want to keep an eye on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.

The album tells the tale of a final night in your home city, before embarking on a journey to space. While space isn’t anywhere near a new concept in the realm of post-rock, I really enjoy the way this story is told, as stated by the band:

Orange City – A journey through the city, full of memories. Orange Beach – Last evening with friends, family. Orange Sea – A sea voyage with your favorite. Orange Island – The last night before the flight. Orange Base – Voltage and decreasing time. Orange Rocket – Start. Flight. The ultimate goal.

I don’t exactly know how the final track, ‘Phoenix’, fits in to this narrative (I’m assuming it’s tied in to the flight of the rocket, phoenix in flames sort of thing), but given how the final “orange” track goes, I’ve got my ideas (more on that later). Of course, given that the band calls ‘Phoenix’ a bonus track, it may not be tied into it at all. This is very keyboard driven post-rock, and it’s done really, really well. I think that the entire band should obviously be commended for crafting the songs, but I’m especially impressed with the keyboard playing of Edgar Sokolov. While it’s not necessarily very difficult music that he’s playing, it’s just done so well that it becomes the driving force behind each of the songs. That said, I have to admit that one of my favorite moments on the album comes courtesy of bass player Anton Avin at about 2:40 into the track ‘Orange Island’. I don’t feel like you often have the bass setting the tone for the crescendo as is the case here, and I love the way the rest of the musicians come together to pull it off.

By the time the story reaches it’s conclusion, you’ve definitely gained a sense of that last night pretty well. From enjoying the time spent with your friends and loved ones, to the realization that you’re leaving them behind, culminating in the darker, uneasy feeling on ‘Orange Rocket’, the flight of the rocket itself. The tone of this final song is definitely heavier than the rest of the album, as though perhaps there was a problem with the flight…

One of the things that is most striking to me about this album is that, according to the band, they didn’t “learn to play” post-rock. Instead, after creating these songs, they found out that the music that they had written could be characterized as post-rock, which is pretty awesome to me. If you’re not setting out to create a specific style of music, but rather just writing based off of your influences and ideas, I think the final product comes out much better than trying to cram what you want to write into a tidy little genre name. Now, the question is if they’ll be able to avoid that pre-disposed categorization and the trappings that come with it on future recordings. My guess, based off of ‘Phoenix’, is that future music will definitely be a bit more defined by post-rock, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress, and just hope that it’s not another 5 years before they release a new album!

Side note, I strongly encourage you all to visit Music InWallved’s website and poke around a little. Really, really clever.

 

Foofer Friday: Nathaniel Noton-Freeman – Cloud Machines

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a4069498903_2(Just so you guys know, everything I’m about to say is completely biased. That being said, take everything from here on with a grain of salt.)
I’ve been listening to Nathaniel Noton-Freeman’s music ever since he posted Whorl on reddit over two years ago. To say that he’s progressed wouldn’t be entirely accurate. He’s had the talent from the start, he just shows it in different ways from one album to the next. From the acoustic soundscapes in ‘Whorl’ to the more traditional post-rock sounds in ‘Seabirds’, he’s done a wonderful job of never repeating himself.

‘Cloud Machines’ is no different.

Compared to his earlier work, ‘Cloud Machines’ is almost depressingly solemn. Its droning and drawn out riffs really show his admiration and inspirations from bands like Earth and Lowercase Noises. It actually sounds exactly how I wanted Lowercase Noises’ “This Is For Our Sins” to turn out.

From the opening notes of “Aamjiwnaang”, you can guess that the rest of the album is going to be a relaxing ride, and you’d be right. The first track is almost nothing but guitars on top of guitars like some sort of musical orgy. This track and “Harvestman” are where the Lowercase Noises influences show clearest, in my opinion. It’s is so beautiful and simple at the same time.

Every track from then on is a masterpiece in and of itself. From the melodies to the song structures, it’s all wonderfully executed. Even though all of the songs so different from each other and can be a somewhat jarring experience, they all sound like they belong, nothing is out of place. And the effects are absolutely wonderful, you can really see his love of pedals throughout the whole album, my favorite example is “Murmur”.

But my absolute favorite tracks are “Crow & The Watermelon Rind” and “Young Birch” because they’re the only acoustic tracks, they just really stand out to me, and I’m a sucker for acoustic music. Even though the whole lo-fi ‘I recorded this in my backyard’ sound has been done so many times, he really owns it and makes it sound so sincere.

I insist that you check this album and the brilliant guy behind it. Even if you don’t like “Cloud Machines”, I would check his other albums out anyways, because he doesn’t always sound the same like most artists tend to do. (I’m looking at you, Sleep Dealer.)


After you’ve checked it out, let me know what you thought on twitter @Foofsies or via e-mail at fooferfridays@gmail.com

Next week: Ranges – Solar Mansions (Yet ANOTHER band from Bozeman, Montana!)

    

Great Plains – Great Plains

greatplainsWhen I was a bit younger, and didn’t have pesky grown-up problems like bills and rent payments and stuff, I would occasionally go to the record store and flip through albums with the idea that I was going to pick something up based off of the cover art. The idea here was that whatever the art was gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect from the music. Sometimes it worked out pretty well, sometimes… well.. sometimes it was awful. I’d say that, in general, the results were more in my favor than not. I bring this up because the minute I saw the artwork for Great Plains’ self-titled debut EP, that old feeling came over me. Just looking at it, I thought “I bet I know what this is going to sound like, and I bet I’m going to like it”.

 

Fortunately for me, this wasn’t one of the situations where I was dreadfully wrong, on either count.

So, that said, the album art is pretty accurate in giving the potential listener an idea of what to expect – it’s foggy, it’s a little grey, but it’s pretty. Hell, there are even some sounds on the record that sound kind of like birds. It’s almost like the guys in the band looked at the picture and went, “So, this. This is what we’re going to sound like”, and you know what? It’s good. Damn good. It has the fog – the repetitive, droning moments; it has the grey – some of the moodier, atmospheric moments; and it has the pretty – the more “standard” post-rock moments. The beauty of this album to me, though, is the not so obvious influences. The bits of Sonic Youth that I hear in the songs is every bit as important as the Isis. It’s always a great thing to me when a band truly tries to incorporate all of their influences (and is also a great reason why I’ve never been successful in starting a band).

Allow me though, if you will, to sort of step away from talking about the music for a second. Well, not entirely, but sort of. The EP was recorded live, and being a bit of a music nerd (ya think?), I’m highly impressed. Far too often, even in post-rock, bands rely very heavily on recording layers over layers, tweaking things after recording them, and so on. When I discover that a band has recorded their album live, it gives me kind of a warm, fuzzy feeling. So, kudos to Great Plains for having the courage and talent to do such a thing.

The EP itself climbs and descends the way you would expect a lone post-rock song to do. Even a cursory glance at the track times will show you that – short, medium, long, medium, short. Given that this was recorded live, I tend to think that the track listing was intentionally laid out in such a way, but maybe I’m reading into things a bit too much. Regardless, the composition of the songs work fairly well together. My two gripes are the endings of ‘Colder/Brighter’ and ‘Drive About You’. While the ending of the latter just seems a little misplaced, the finale of the former is just really anti-climatic to me. Of course, as with most EPs that I enjoy, I wish that it was a bit longer, but so it goes. In an age of being able to binge watch great TV shows in a fantastic display of shunning your social life, we’re kind of accustomed to wanting as much as possible as quickly as possible. I’ll be more than content, however, to enjoy this EP while I wait for more music from these guys!

 

Foofer Friday: The Echelon Effect – “Pacific”

 

Reviewed by: Foofer

A band that isn’t brand new, with more than one album to call their own? How exciting!

… right?

The Echelon Effect has been around a bit longer than most of the bands I’ve reviewed, having started in 2009. Since then they’ve been churning out music like a machine. “Pacific” is the sister album to “Atlantic”, which they released late last year.

Just looking at this album, I knew I was in for a long ride. This 11-track behemoth is 1 hour and 4 minutes long, and it definitely feels like it. It took me forever to find time to actually sit down and listen to it all from beginning to end. I couldn’t even play it to and from work and get through it all. To be honest, it made me want to listen to other things, like the Smashing Pumpkins cassette I found for 25 cents. (Yeah, be jealous.)

I’m going to be blatantly honest here and say that I just can’t get into this album. There are so many things that turn me off from their music, that writing this was hanging over my head like a chore, or some deadline I’ve yet to meet. The structure was repetitive, it all just sounds like it’s going nowhere. It just feels… boring. Literally none of the instruments ever stand out, they don’t ever have a part where they shine brighter than the others, giving it a very flat sort of impression. I don’t know if they intended to make this album sound it ends 7 different times, like the waves of a musical ocean. Regardless, it gave me a false sense of closure, unnecessarily dragging out the whole experience.

On the plus side: it’s recorded well, the mixing is superb, and the mastering is top-notch stuff. This is a very professional album, and it’s worth listening to if you’re into that sort of thing. I can safely say that this album doesn’t suck. It’s just an album I don’t like.

The only way I can see the full album being appreciated in its entirety is if someone were waiting in line at the DMV, or if they had a lot of paperwork or homework to get done. So next time you’re overburdened with reality, go ahead and play this all the way through and I’ll bet you’ll be done before it’s over.

Next week: Nathaniel Noton-Freeman’s upcoming album, “Cloud Machines”