Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Got Independent Music? Artist Submissions Open for the Co-Op Communique Volume 4

Remember the days of the old-school compilation album? The "you-gotta-hear-this" mixtape from that friend of a friend? Dw. Dunphy & The Co-Op Community know that nostalgia is the future, then is now, and discovery is the joy of the passionate. Got independent music? The Co-Op Communique Vol. 4 wants it to be heard.

The Communique series features independent music ranging from the DIY to the slick, the jangly to the jagged, the pop to the rock to the wherever-the-muse-may-strum. Now in its fourth volume, this compilation series is at once humble and audacious in its ambition: neither charging artists for inclusion nor generating income, each compilation is jam-packed yet carefully arranged to entice the fan of independent music to acquaint herself with her new favourite artist or dozen.

Past volumes in the series have featured melodic indie rock

Ambient singer-songwriter

Avante-garde folk-punk

Sunshimmery power pop

And lush psychedelic garage noise

Artist submission are open for The Co-Op Communique Vol. 4, and this time both auditory and visual submissions are encouraged. If you've got independent music or graphic art and want to join The Co-Op, email to get that conversation started.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Andy Tillison Teases New Direction for Solo Project The Kalman Filter

What's going on in this image? What secrets reveal themselves if one gazes steadily at the lower left portion of the rectangle? Apparently, the answer is that one will have obtained some kind of insight into the story behind the music of The Kalman Filter, or at least strained their retinas on the new album's new cover.

Having originally announced a new ambient electronic album inspired by his walks around Yorkshire reservoirs, Andy Tillison has teased a change in direction for this 'solo' musical project. Now, the album looks to explore inspiration light years away from the woods of Yorkshire, and the story of how it got there involves underground military bunkers, The Fierce and the Dead, mood boards, and an Unruly Pachiderm. In addition to providing quite a bit of silly fun, Tillison's teaser story seems to contain several clues that are presumably leading up to an official announcement for The Kalman Filter album's record label, release date, and possibly some guest musicians. Whatever its ultimate form, this debut release from Andy Tillison's new project (complementing but not replacing his work with The Tangent) is available for pre-order, including the option of hearing early demos that will probably differ greatly from the finished album. We can only hope that those Unruly Pachiderms overseeing the album's release will have the good sense to release Tillison' music and accompanying novella in a proper vinyl package.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Vinyl in Sight: The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery by The Tangent

'The Album' as a musical format was born on vinyl, and it continues to lead an active, fulfilling life there. On this edition of Vinyl in Sight, we take a look at EU Proggers The Tangent's latest masterpiece, The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (or, "Where Do We Draw the Line Now?")We have a full review essay for TSROFM over at Progradar, but the artwork and vinyl experience for this album are so fantastic that the LP deserves its own review. This is in large part due to the stunning images from Mark Buckingham (comic book art for Generation X, Fables, covers for The Fierce And The Dead, etc.), though the overall design and sound recommend themselves highly.

On the Platter

Buckingham's art (with colours by Chris Blythe) perfectly captures and re-expresses the political and emotional core of the album: Too much talk, not enough heart. "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaketh," says what some call The Good Book. What then of those who spew hot gas, whose blow-hardiness is a defining feature? Rhetoric without Logic is bad enough, but perhaps there is something worse: perhaps Heartless Speech damages Humanity worse than any concrete wall or mere political disagreement ever could. This sobering truth asserts itself in the gatefold:

 "The ACTUAL Story" is their story; it's the story we hear when we listen to the oppressed with open ears and open hearts. When we insist on inserting ourselves into the story, when we dictate the meaning of the story, we set ourselves up as a barrier to Humanity itself.

In this spirit, the art & packaging for the vinyl LP open space for the album's story with numerous cartoons and annotations along with full lyrics that develop the background and details for the songs beyond what is sung. The labels for each side are clean, vibrant, and unique though centered around a common aesthetic. Andy Tillison & Co. have a bit of fun here, as well. Guitarist Luke Machin is credited with lyrics for the instrumental "Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)," while the label for "A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road" pokes the bear a bit by crediting Tillison only with the arrangement—a cadre of particularly rancorous politicians and media personalities are named as the writers of the song. The discs themselves are clean, well-pressed, and feel substantial in the hand. They really didn't require any cleaning before play, and the holes were cut perfectly (secure but not too tight on the spindle). As usual, Inside Out Music releases only the highest quality vinyl pressing and packaging. The only disappointment in the packaging is that it lacks one or two illustrations from the CD digi-pack version, as well as the list of pre-pre-order supporters and a two-page (in the CD booklet) essay, "Where Are They Now?" Given the high cost of new vinyl compared with other formats, it's unfortunate when design elements have to be left out in the name of not raising the price further.

Oh, and there's a bit of an Easter egg on the label for Side 2 of LP 2—Side forty eight, eh? What's that all about? A song for The Remainers, perhaps?

In the Grooves

As we've already reviewed the music at Progradar, we'll focus here on the sonic experience of the album on vinyl. First things first: Jonas Reingold deserves to be heard in this medium. Of course, vinyl enthusiasts will be familiar with its advantages for reproducing low frequencies (given a good master), and that advantage is on full display on The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery. Reingold's bass is so massive, forceful, and acrobatic all over the album, and it's especially punchy and prominent in the LP grooves. On the high end, Machin's piercing guitar leads and Theo Travis' whirling wind instruments are wonderfully defined and sustained. The vocals benefit as well, especially when Marie-Eve de Gualtier and Tillison are singing together. Gualtier's voice sounds all the more delicate and atmospheric in the warmth of the vinyl. For those tired of hearing about the medium's 'warmth', let's say that there is a spaciousness and quality of air here that augments the clarity and tone of the complex and sometimes dense musical performances.

Again, the only drawback to this edition of the album stems from what is not included, namely, the excellent and very fun "Basildonxit" from the CD digi-pack edition. It would have been a tight fit and probably ill-advised squeeze without an additional side of vinyl, but it would be nice if the song had appeared on the CD included in the jacket pocket. In a more perfect world, the song would have accompanied the album as the A side of its own 7" record, backed perhaps with a short edit from the epic "Slow Rust." Nonetheless, the overall quality of The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery on vinyl warrants its purchase, even sans the bonus track. Our favourite album of 2017 paired with our favourite way to listen to music? Recommended without reservation.

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery by The Tangent is available via the band's own webstore or, with a lower shipping cost for those in North America, from LaserCD.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The October Playlist: A Journey Through All Hallow's Eve

The Night of the Great Pumpkin is upon us once again, and you'll be wanting some music to accompany your celebrations. We've got you covered with a playlist to guide you through the four stages of an All Hallow's Eve, so please enjoy this carefully curated selection of ghoulish and goofy tunes as you bob for apples, full-size candy bars, or perhaps something a bit stronger.

Trick or Treat
"Keepin' Halloween Alive"—Alice Cooper
"Skullivan"—They Might Be Giants
"I Love You So Much (It's Scary)"—Boyz 4 Now

Halloween Party Games
"Vampolka"—Devin Townsend Band
"Zombies in the Mall"—Gizmodrome
"Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)"—David Bowie

The Witching Hour
"Dead Eyes"—Casualties of Cool
"Spooky"—Starflyer 59
"The Great Gig in the Sky"—Pink Floyd

Early Morning Cocktails
"Great Pumpkin Waltz"—Vince Guaraldi Trio
"Damned and Divine"—Tarja
"Devils, Angels & Saints"—Dead Artist Syndrome