Hair Police – Mercurial Rights

Hair Police - Mercurial Rites

In 2001, noise trio, Hair Police, made quite a racket within the experimental music scene and continued to do so for a number of years before going on an unannounced hiatus in which members pursued endeavors in their respective separate projects. It wasn’t until earlier this year that the group returned to the noise scene with their most complete effort in years and arguably their most intimidating release out of their entire catalogue. Featuring members of noise legends Wolf Eyes and Burning Star Core, Hair Police brings together aspects from these backgrounds, the frothing primal aggression of the former and mesh it with the sonically attentive subtleties of the latter. With ‘Mercurial Rites’ the group looks to strip the semi-polished sheen of noise music’s marriage with digitally processed sounds and the recent influence of dub music, instead, taking the genre back to the electronic medieval that seems to have been absent in recent years.

While in recent times the musicians most notable for their contributions to the early modern developments of the now thriving noise scene, the likes of Dominick Fernow of Prurient and  Vatican Shadow, Pete Swanson (ex-Yellow Swans), and Black Dice have been moving more toward exclusively structural variants of electronic music, implementing their once completely atonal noise compositions into the structural format of modern electronic music, namely the likes of dub and minimal techno, Hair Police have something entirely different in mind, devoid of any of the aforementioned electronic themes, thus harkening back to the primitive roots of electronic music. Hair Police revisits the confrontational aspects of noise that the genre was known for during its early developments recalling the hellish vocals evocative of the ear-aching noise pioneered by controversial power-electronics group, Whitehouse in the 80s and early 90s.

Hair Police’s sound actually reminds me a lot of the more abrasive works from Wolf Eyes, albeit, this form of corrosiveness is not of an immediate kind but  rather, long form, slow-burning, and reminiscent of the Wolf Eyes collaborative series of works with psychedelic noise collective, Black Dice. ‘Mercurial Rites’ is a record that knows when to be punishingly noisy and when to bring in a moodier atmosphere. It is this live aspect that adds layers of depth and uniqueness to an otherwise colorless, bleak vision. The vocals add yet another nightmarish quality to these dissonant tormented soundscapes. With this release the band has proven itself worthy of crafting a nicely balanced record, intermittently transitioning from the tortured analogue hell of ‘We Prepare’ to the  nightmarish dungeon-esque ambience of ‘Scythed Wide’. While Hair Police’s style has always included a strong atmospheric presence the band still manages to touch on a dark aspect of music that feels natural rather than intentional, even in the midst of a less noisy approach. In a genre of extremes  the group has created a sound that isn’t completely over-cooked, finding a middle ground between the unlistenable and the accessible, making this release a good jumping on point for those who are unfamiliar with the band to listen.

Although I’ve had a fondness for noise, drone, experimental, avant-garde; vanguard music as a whole, for some reason I never got around to listening to Hair Police up until this point but even with that said I can say without question that ‘Mercurial Rites’ is easily the bands most complete effort since 2008’s ‘Certainty of Swarms’ and one of the better harsh noise records I’ve heard this year thus far. It is a record that shows that the band hasn’t at all let up on the caustic sound in which they made a name for themselves with, even in the midst of noise music’s current transition toward something conclusively musical; a sound this record seems to be inherently opposed to. It is here that disturbing soundscapes fill the void between blasts of distortion-ridden noise and if that doesn’t sound unsettling enough the shrill disembodied vocals that haunt this record will likely give you nightmares, although these are nightmares that I wouldn’t mind revisiting often.

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Overall Rating: 8.0

Favorite Tracks: ‘We Prepare’

Recommended: Wolf Eyes, Burning Star Core, Black Dice

Released: January 2013

Links:

Stream the LP on Type Records

Buy the record on Boomkat

-Tyler Thompson

Derek Piotr – Raj

Derek Piotr - Raj

On ‘Raj’, the third release from Poland’s Derek Piotr, the music featured throughout is a very vocal set of experimental and beat oriented compositions that draws much of it’s content from the voice which is processed and arrange, sometimes acting as a part of the beat itself.

This is my first introduction to Piotr’s music but before I began this review I went back to his previous two releases, ‘Agora’ and ‘Airing’, both of which show Piotr’s subtle but nevertheless, progressive movement through his vocal practices and the digitalized aura that at all times surrounds his work, that being his heavily processed but otherwise organic approach to the broad genre that is electronic music. Throughout Piotr’s previous releases it is apparent that his music has always been hard to pin down and on ‘Raj’ it is even more difficult. In a moment of harsh glitching and hot digital distortion (Spine, Grave)  I want to call it noise, during the bits of eclectic beat-oriented madness (‘Amendola’) I am reminded of dub and minimalist techno, throughout the menacing atmosphere that fills the album I want to call it dark ambient, and even then there are so many other genre’s one could tack on to ‘Raj’ yet there is no single point in time on this album in which any of the aforementioned genre tags could fully describe it. With all of that said, Piotr’s third entry is an undoubtably complex effort, brimming with abstract beats, unexpected shifts in direction, and unusual song structures that can be as uninviting as they can be accessible.

Musicians, particularly electronic musicians of Piotr’s kind have always expressed some interest in the manipulation of the voice and the use of it as an instrument but it hasn’t been until recently, within the past few years that is, that this vocal processing, this sound shaping of the voice has become a seen and used by musicians as a tool for creating beats, melodies, and song structures. Musicians like James Blake, Vladislav Delay, and AGF (whom Derek Piotr has collaborated with) can all be heard using vocals as the primary instrument, alongside synths and the whir and glow of the computer in the post-digital age.

Unlike many electronic musicians, Piotr does not so much work within the perimeters of electronic music as much as he exploits them. The otherwise polished sheen of digital music becomes distorted; ripped free from its most “proper” uses. You can hear the static glitched out synths, pitch shifted tones, and chopped up beats all moving at varying speeds, and Piotr’s own disheartening vocal embellishments that are arranged in a rather eerie way over the industrial, menacing soundscape that fills this album. The minimalist compositions and echo of the cold beats remind me of Andy Stott’s two 2011 EPs prior to his move toward a more polished sound on his 2012 full length.  It’s a very visual type of music and I think this aspect has been made even more apparent by the two music videos that accompany the tracks, ‘Sand Defacing All Surfaces” and ‘Grave’.

Piotr’s constant vocal manipulations paired with the desolate digital atmosphere shows a lot of ambition and potential but I do feel like there are many times where these elements come off as more of a burden for the listener than a unique aspect of his work. The vocal manipulations become especially grating along with the repetitiousness of the albums tracks. I found myself thinking it would be nice to hear Piotr’s own raw voice, removed of the guise of his editing skills. While individually, most of the tracks aren’t something you would listen to as independent pieces the album does pick up on that aspect in that, holistically it works very well, perhaps because the music is so conscious of what it is, even without an established concept.

The tracks are minimal, bare, stripped down, skeletal, and sometimes repetitive; there is a strain of despair and desolation that runs throughout each track. There are moments on this album where this moodiness works much to Piotr’s advantage in that it leaves me feeling unease, never feeling content or comfortable in knowing where the next track or sudden shift in direction might take me; never a moment where I felt like I knew what was going to happen next, which proves to be one of the best aspects of this piece of music by the end of the album. In the end, as experimental and impenetrable as ‘Raj’ may initially sound, there are many moments interjected throughout where the album can feel very accessible, even for audiences unfamiliar with Piotr’s unorthodox approach to electronic music.

Have a look at the videos that accompany two tracks from the album:

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Overall Rating: 6.8

Favorite Tracks: ‘Flow Through Light’

Recommended: AGF, Vladislav Delay, Andy Stott

Released: 26 February 2013

Links: http://derekpiotr.com/raj/

-Tyler Thompson

Giles Corey – Hinterkaifeck

Giles Corey - Hinterkaifeck

After the indefinite hiatus of the genre-defying two-man band, Have A Nice Life, member Dan Barrett began releasing music as Giles Corey, a singer-songwriter / folk project that, with the first release, diverged from Barrett’s previous endeavors, focusing less on genre hopping and more on remaining consistent in one area, that being Barrett’s craft for applying this dark, atmospheric presence to his work, in this case folk music. With Giles Corey Barrett binds together lyrical topics on suicide, history, and the supernatural into a tale that is irresistibly enveloping.

While Giles Corey could be thrown into the category of folk music without much thought, Barret’s idea of folk is a bit different than the sound the genre has become synonymous with. Barrett’s style of music, much like his endeavors in past projects has this huge sense of depth to the recordings. Throughout, there is a gloomy melancholic aura that is often accompanied  by nihilistic lyrics, vocals ranging from longing howls to the abrasive, processed drums, and resonant droning chords that seem to echo on forever; a polarizing combination that made the first installment in Giles Corey’s discography a must have for fans of folk and even the extremes of black metal alike. Although different from Have A Nice Life and Nahvalr, in many ways, the project still retained some traits found within those previous projects, namely Barrett’s soft spot for the reverb and delay drenched aspects of shoegaze music and the sprawling influence of drone music, a trait that was revisited, this time wholly as the project moved toward the long-form minimalist drone and binaural experiments of last year’s ‘Deconstructionist’ album.

It’s no secret that Giles Corey’s first album wore it’s experimental tendencies on it’s sleeves but the project’s next album, ‘Deconstructionist’, a release consisting of three songs, each passing the twenty minute mark, was a piece of music that did away with any kind musical structure, this time fully embracing experimentation which, as a result would isolate the fans of the more folky tracks from the project’s debut. Luckily for those who didn’t enjoy Barret’s plummet into the conceptual mood piece that was the ‘Deconstructionist’ this new EP, ‘Hinterkaifeck’ is a return to the haunting style that gained the project it’s attention in the first place.

One thing that made Giles Corey so appealing was Barrett’s story telling. With each release Barrett has offered a backstory to accompany the music; it was a decision that called for participation, allowing the listener to immerse one’s self within the music as oppose to simply listening along. As with these previous releases, the title of the EP, ‘Hinterkaifeck’ offers some pretext to the music, referring to an unsolved event that transpired on a small farm in which, on the evening of 1922 six people were brutally and curiously murdered with a pickaxe. It is a minor piece of information that without knowing does nothing in terms of adding to the mythos that Barrett has built around this project but when looked into gave me something to chew on, offering another perspective into what Giles Corey is about thematically.

On this new EP Barrett’s dishearteningly somber vocals and lo-fi production techniques are ever present. Where the last release was a three track sprawling epic these three shorter tracks on this EP still manage to leave plenty of room for some explosive and epic moments. Thick acoustic guitar chords and distant vocals make up the beginning of ‘Guilt Is My Boyfriend’ before exploding into a fuzz-drenched mess, essentially summing up what Giles Corey is at it’s most basic, pop with a wash of melancholia. The songs on ‘Hinterkaifeck’ show Giles Corey progressing in very much the same fashion as was heard on the self titled album. It isn’t nearly as groundbreaking but being what it is, a decent set of new tracks, it should tide you over until the next full length release.

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Overall Rating: 6.8

Favorite Track: ‘Guilt Is My Boyfriend’

Recommended: Visit Enemies List Home Recordings website for similar artists.

Released: 21 February 2013

Links: Check out this live set of tracks from a recent tour here.

-Tyler Thompson

Glasslung – Abreaction (Track Review)

Glasslung - Abreaction

For most of us living in the midwestern United States, it’s still winter, a time of year fitting for mood music, whatever that may be in terms of your respective tastes. For me, ambient, drone and music of that kind are most suitable for the time of year, a season that much like the aforementioned style of music is, in a sense, restrictive. It is a time in which we find ourselves indoors the most, where grey skies linger daily, and a time when we purposefully subject ourselves to seclusion. Music of this kind has always provided me with this gripping and arresting atmosphere, an enveloping quality that has the ability to be restrictive while at once liberating.

Much like the seasons, Glasslung continues to change along with them. In the fall of last year the one man Columbus, OH project released ‘New Martyrs’, an album that marked a distinct transition. Where 2011’s Callous was an album comprised of drifting melodic ambience, ‘New Martyrs’ was an album that aimed for something darker while still retaining the subtle ambient progressions found on earlier works. Glasslung continued this stylistic transition, this time in a more immediate fashion with the confrontational noise-ridden collaboration with noise musician, Jahktute. ‘Abreaction’ is the latest track from the project, a track that shows Glasslung’s intent to continue his exploration of the noisier side of ambient music.

Much like the work heard on his split with Jahktute, ‘Abreaction’ is a textural soundscape of audio decay that from the beginning grips the listener with speaker tearing distortion. Rippling and growing louder in volume the track builds to a crushing intensity, leading us through a continuously dark listen that eventually progresses into a hollow distant roar. Where the first half is a intense foray into a fuzz-drenched excursion the second half of the track is more reserved, surrounding one with a thick haze of reverberated ambience, disembodied howls, and a longing painful tenderness. ‘Abreaction’ is a very engaging drone track, one that goes from swallowing listeners in and torrential storm of unsettling noises to slowly digesting them in a sea of glacially moving sounds.

Look for ‘Abreaction’ on the upcoming album entitled, ‘Lack’.

-Tyler Thompson

Pigeon Breeders Interview

PB INTERVIEW copy copy

Edmonton, Alberta’s psychedelic noisemaking trio Pigeon Breeders were kind enough to chat with me via email about some questions regarding their music and what they do.

INB4TRACK:
I’ll go ahead and start off with the most mundane and asked question, what got you into producing the style of music you make? When was it that you decided you wanted to make noise as oppose to other more accepted forms of music?

Tyler Harland: It was gradual for me. I was playing around with effects during my time with my last band, The Wicked Awesomes. After that I was doing quite a bit of making more structured songs out of unconventional noises, having no-input and oscillations, fuzz pedals and stuff.

Myles Bartel: How many pedals do you have? A rough estimate?

TH: 30 or 40. When I was in Wicked Awesomes I was getting into noise as a sort of instrument, seeing bands like Holy Fuck. I saw them when we were playing Sled Island [an annual music festival in Calgary, AB] years ago. That’s when I started listening to them, as well as Health and Nice Nice. I thought of making a solo project with looping and noise within a structure. It just never really happened — and then Pigeon Breeders did.

Will Scott: What got me into this style of music was listening to jazz, particularly free jazz and the like: Medeski Martin and Wood, Ornette Coleman — and even more mainstream music, I would like the two minute intros of ambient sounds. So I started making sonic landscapes with my own music, but it was still structured within a beat. Then I joined the University of Alberta’s experimental improvisational ensemble [XiME], and that expanded my mind more. So I was already practicing with making stranger music. Then one day, I was working on a song in my room — just recording it — and I hear Myles downstairs in the basement, improvising with some other people. We had not yet discussed much about that music; he had just moved in and I didn’t really know him that well yet. Anyway, he was doing that sort of stuff on the same page as me. It was totally an unexpected surprise — and I went downstairs and I just asked him “can I jam with you? This is my style.” So him and I just started jamming. So that’s when it sort of started with Pigeon Breeders.

Also, I don’t like to classify our music as noise. We’re not a harsh band. We’re more restrained. If you want to pick a generalization I would say it leans closer to ambient.

MB: I think experimental improv. But noise has been a useful umbrella term for a lot of bands and styles.

WS: I don’t think we’re noise at all.

MB: Sonically, its a similar mindset, in that its essentially just chunks of sonic textures as the driving force. I suppose when we started, we were kind of a noise band in the more typical sense.

Basically how I got into noise was listening to Throbbing Gristle and others like them in high school. At the time I thought of myself mainly as a guitarist. I was playing in a punk band with some friends. We had some songs but we were having trouble with our direction. It was hard to write songs after the first batch or two, and we were without a full-time bassist. It just fell apart. So I took it upon myself to go forward and explore music I didn’t think I could do with other people. I had bought a Tascam 4-Track [cassette recorder] and started laying down layers of improvised guitar and other sounds. That was basically how Ocra started. At some point I was able to jam around with a few people but never found an opportunity for a full-time band within that style. So when I started jamming with Tyler and Will it was this amazing thing. I had been to a lot of the Ramshackle Day Parade concerts, and even performed a few myself. It was something I knew I wanted to be a part of, and incorporating my own performance style with other musicians really opened up a lot of doors.

INB4TRACK:
With all of these sounds coming together as a sort of living wall of noise, structurally, Nocturnal Reveries reminded me somewhat of Cleveland, Ohio ambient / drone trio Emeralds and Portland duo Yellow Swans. Are their any particular musicians that have influenced the sound of Pigeon Breeders?

MB: I’m somewhat familiar with Emerald’s back catalogue, and Yellow Swans I’ve barely touched.

WS: I’ve never heard of those bands. My influences are more of the home recording material, such as John Frusciante’s solo albums, which is him and his tape player, just experimenting with his guitar. It’s not really noise, but it’s a more angular approach to working with his instrument. I find that interesting and inspiring to me. MMW is a huge influence because of the sheer magnitude of their improvisational skills — I have pretty much everything they’ve recorded. They have live recordings where it’s completely improvised. The main thing that’s inspiring with them is that, like us, it’s just three guys; they’ve been together for so long, they just know where things are going. They’re able to work together, it’s like a conversation — they know what they’re feeling at all times, how to respond and instigate things, and they know where to stop. Other influences — tons of them. I love Charles Mingus. Can, also — just like MMW — they’re master improvisers. They’re able to jam for as long as possible, and always create interesting things. What really inspires me about them is that they’ve had six hour jams before, and they’re able to sustain, and be able to know that they’re playing for so long; they’re not getting everything out for the first five minutes. We’ve tried lengthy jams like that to force ourselves to come up with new ideas.

TH: For me it’s bands like Health, they were the “noisiest” of the first such bands that I listened to. I was really taken aback by the weird sounds — the two guitars and a bass just sounding like random instruments, synths, and weird textures and stuff. The way they make your unconventional, or not necessarily melodic things and angular sounds — dissonance and stuff like that — sound like music. On that note, a bands like AIDS Wolf, especially the first album, a song like “We Multiply” — there’s nothing that would be traditional guitar chord or anything, it’s just a melody created by noise and a basic rhythm behind it. It’s incredibly catchy, and for a lack of a better term, noise. Also, as mentioned before, Holy Fuck — at its heart, just two dudes with a tableful of effects and mini keyboards. The amount of catchy melodies and great music that they’re making from unconventional instruments, a lack of real instruments. They’ll have singing in a song where there’s no lyrics — it’s just vocals as an instrument that’s highly manipulated and pitch-shifted to create a melody.

MB: Most of my influences for Pigeon Breeders came about before, with my work as Ocra. Around that time I was heavily into post-industrial groups like Coil, Current 93, Nurse With Wound. I think some of that carries through, in terms of sensibilities. Ambient artists such as William Baskinski, Andrew Chalk, and of course, Brian Eno, were all a bigger focus of mine. I like asynchronous sounds that can be noisy but melodic as well; when everything is just sort of this beautiful blur of sound. In that time, I got to see a great pool of bands live — Shearing Pinx, AIDS Wolf, Zebra Pulse, etc. Getting pretty into the Dead C when were starting Pigeon Breeders had quite an effect. That whole dissonant, wrangled punk/improvised noise style is just so wonderful. Looking back, it seems noise rock had more of a role in the beginning. Now that we’ve developed into a much more ambient style, I hear us sounding more like bands such as Natural Snow Buildings, we’re kind of just drifting naturally in that direction.

INB4TRACK:
The sound of Nocturnal Reveries could be described as encapsulating; are there perks to utilizing an electroacoustic means of producing sound as oppose to exclusively using a traditional means of producing music (via guitar, drums, bass)?

WS: Basically, I feel we’re incorporating these non-traditional instruments — for me, antique or flea market-style purchases — and just finding what these items sound like. It’s a joy to try to get sounds out of things you never would think you could get sounds out of. We do utilize traditional instruments — we believe in the best of both worlds. We’re just interested in new sounds, whatever it is.

MB: It’s important for us to re-contextualize the sounds of certain things. It keeps things interesting for us. You can get into certain patterns and habits regardless of what you play — the instruments, the pedals, the sounds, etc. can all start to feel very familiar. But as soon as you throw a new idea or two in the mix, so much changes. And everything builds from those changes.

INB4TRACK:
Being that this is a very specific style of music in terms of interest, it’s no surprise that music of this nature often harbors a negative reaction from listeners who are unfamiliar with it. Has there ever been a time while performing live that you have faced a negative reaction from members of the audience or are they generally receptive?

TH: Usually at our shows, after performing, people just come up and say, “I’ve never seen anything like that before, that was really cool.” They’ll ask when we’re playing again, so they can see us more often. But, one time we did have a heckler. He said “sound check’s over” and some other things, just near the end of our set.

WS: I really don’t care what people think of it. I’m making music for personal reasons. Sometimes it grounds me, sometimes it’s a way for me to get my anger, my sadness, or my happiness out — I don’t care either way how the public takes it. But it’s a pleasant surprise when someone comes up to you and tell you that they do enjoy it. As for people who don’t, I ended up smoking outside with our one heckler after our set. We were joking around, he said “you basically just turn volume knobs” and I just said “yeah, and you paid to see the show.”

TH: Yeah, “you paid for our beer tonight.”

WS: So, we take it light-heartedly, and I think it’s funny. There’s a realization that what we like, other people may not like, and it doesn’t really affect me, or the band. And I kind of appreciate a heckler more than someone who’ll just say “nice set” or “that was interesting.”

MB: Well, if we’re playing a more drone-oriented set, it will indeed look mostly like we’re just adjusting knobs and pressing pedals. To a general audience, that’s visually uninteresting, and to someone who isn’t even into that kind of music that’s just meaningless to them. But if we’re playing a well-rounded set, we’ll overlap a variety of styles and sounds — it’ll be dynamic and interesting, even on a visual level. But even our most interesting stuff could beckon hecklers, simply because they just want to see the other rock bands on the bill. It could be worse for those people, they could be watching three dudes on laptops.

WS: For me, it’s just great to go out on a night, be out and play, have a couple of beers with our friends for free. When we started this band, we never asked the question of who we’re playing to. We never thought people would be interested. It’s just a surprise that they are, so we’re happy, and we’ll reap the benefits.

INB4TRACK:
Noise and ambient musicians are notorious for being prolific, often releasing multiple albums and sometimes more within a year. It is obviously important to remain consistent in releasing material in this scene but would you say that there should be a balance between the quality and quantity of what is being put out? With that said what is your process like in determining what does and does not make the cut?

WS: We record every single time we play, more or less. We have a backlog of recordings. Sometimes they go un-listened, but we’re getting a lot better at listening back these days. We are striving towards listening to every show we play. Listening back to your own recordings is one of the most beneficial things you can do. We don’t even have to talk anymore — we listen, we analyze. We know how to fix ourselves; we know how to fix the each other. For the recordings we put out, it’s usually Myles who listens to a lot of the stuff, and he will come and let us know what he likes. Then we’ll all whittle it down. He picks “the hits.”

TH: He’s the one that listens to absolutely everything.

WS: He weeds it out and then we’ll all have conversations, sometimes heated ones. We’ll think of what we actually really like. Do I think everything we’ve released has been golden? No. But I think in this style of music there will be jams that have a really good energy. There may be a minute here or there that I’m not happy with, but overall it’s the right decision to release. We also select democratically. If two people are into it, the third can veto. Sometimes the third person will give it more thought, and it will go through.

MB: There are moments where I don’t think it’ll sound right, in that the dynamics or the levels are a little off, and you kind of just have to deal with the odd moments like that. Even more so when you record how we’ve done most of our stuff — with a Zoom H1. We can’t re-record them, it just doesn’t work like that, and there’s little you can do with editing. But the performances matter. It comes down to: does this represent us as a band? When we pick something, is it appropriate? That’s why we moved from something like “Nocturnal Reveries” to “Luminous Debris.” The whole point was that we had this jam, then this live show shortly after, and both performances had all these motifs and on the whole they complemented each other and were worth listening to together.

TH: It sort of shows off our process.

MB: It was an early move to do that [a partially live album], but I felt it was an appropriate one. I wanted to get it out there, I have an archival impulse. It was a breaking point in what we were doing, I think. That’s why we put out “Squab” so early, too, in that it captures so well how sounded at the time.

WS: Also, upon selecting tracks, as we go through them for our next few releases, it will be our best material but also what’s very different. We’re never going to release the same thing, it’s always the most unusual thing that can take us to a new place.

MB: At this point we don’t all live under the same roof. There’s less jamming, which means less recording, and therefore less listening material to sort through. It gives the jams room to breathe, and therefore it gives us a lot more focus. None of our albums were recorded as albums, they were just jams. We could release more, we were pretty close to, but we feel content with what we have. We don’t need to capture us as we go all-out for a set’s worth of material as one continuous jam, recorded on a Zoom H1, and sort through it later. What we’re interested in currently is using actual studio recording equipment. There’s been a few sessions, and some experiments in limitations. We can explore different combinations of what we have at our disposal and find a way to construct a statement with it. That’s a new way to express ourselves to an audience.

Pigeon Breeders released their second album Luminous Debris on Ramshackle Day Parade on August 22nd.

Links:

Tumblr: pigeonbreeders.tumblr.com

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/pigeonbreeders

Bandcamp: pigeonbreeders.bandcamp.com

Facebook: facebook.com/pigeonbreeders

-Tyler Thompson

Pigeon Breeders – Luminous Debris

Pigeon Breeders are a three-piece band from Edmonton, Alberta who you may remember from a review I did of their first release, Nocturnal Reveries, an album that brought together minimalist electroacoustic noise and thick walls of psychedelic drone. The latest release entitled ‘Luminous Debris’, a two part epic that continues to see the band move along familiar territory while progressing and pushing the boundaries of their sound.

Noise and experimental music in general have always been about improvising, at least in some aspects and Pigeon Breeders style of noise embodies the spirit of improvised sound. The group’s style of noise is psychedelic, trance inducing even but do take note, this isn’t psychedelic in the traditional sense so put away your shitty weed, your fractal youtube videos, and forget about The Flaming Lips. Pigeon Breeders brand of psychedelic is more meditative and a lot more noisy than what the word psychedelic entails.

Pigeon Breeders approach to drone and noise is more of an organic effort than most favoring the use of the electroacoustic noise of non-instruments and the exploitation of common instruments such as the reappropriation of the guitar, turning it into something more or less a device of noise making as oppose to a tool used to create music . If you are into drone and noise and this just sounds too out there for your tastes dont worry the band still implements some musicality into their performance which I would be so bold as to say the trio possesses traits similar to that of post-rock music, not so much the sound that is but the structure. The band’s post-rock tendencies aren’t so upfront, they never have been but still, their sound is created on behalf of each members contribution even if slight, they feed off of each other in this push pull kind of relationship where many of their tracks begin as these free-form jam session-like compositions in which each member of the band tends to bring a piece to the table and slowly build up into a crescendo or some sort of community of sound. At this point it isn’t about the technical prowess of an individual musician, I was never picking out passages from any one specific instrument that I enjoyed while listening to this. It is about the indication of something much larger that each musician’s sole contribution helps to create.

If you heard and enjoyed what ‘Nocturnal Reveries’ had to offer then Luminous Debris is sure to please. Each member’s offering, even if it is a minimal contribution serves as a crucial piece in creating these noisy soundscapes and proves that the musicians that make up Pigeon Breeders are surely masters of the improvised craft.

Overall Rating: 7.8

Favorite Tracks:

Recommended: Emeralds and Yellow Swans

Released: 22 August 2012

Links:

Listen to the new album via Bandcamp

Ramshackle Day Parade

-Tyler Thompson

Congregations – Circular Ruins

‘Circular Ruins’ is the post-humous release by Congregations, a project that featured a rotating line-up, the only constant member being edmonton ambient musician David Ferris who is also a member of drone / jazz trio TAIWAN whose first album, ‘Belladonna’  was reviewed early in the summer.

Lush, spacial, and delicate are a few of the descriptors that could be used to describe the ambient beauty that is Congregations first and last album. ‘Circular Ruins’ is massive without being crushing or oppressive. Tracks such as ‘Found In The Ravine (Zain)’, You Are Trembling’ and ‘Hayley’ are brimming with a sea of sounds; sounds reminiscent of voices, of wind flowing through tunnels, of the slow static hiss of a tide briefly washing ashore and retracting back into the horizon but still although relatable it remains so disconnected from any of these things, left only for the imagination to interpret, to wonder what thing makes such bodies of noise. Dense low-end drones ride throughout many of the tracks while cascading spacial swells soar above them, the likes of which seamlessly weave in and out of one another, at times merging and separating, becoming one and becoming nothing. At times I think I am hearing strings, church bells, a symphony of instruments, or a choir of women singing but in reality all of this is being created by one David Ferris and still, I find it so easy to get lost in the aural beauty of this short lived project.

The dynamics on this release are certainly impressive and it’s hard to believe that this project is the work of one musician, even so I feel like the addition of more contributors could have added greatly to expand the variety of what this album is, which sometimes feels as though the tracks are bleeding into one another. Regardless, there isn’t a lot for me to say in terms of the negative aspects of this album.

From the beginning of the album with the delicate piano and melancholic rise and fall of ‘You Are Trembling’ to the album’s final lush conclusion on “When We Call” all of the sounds in between resonate a wavering beauty that is not of anything wholly pertaining to this world or any known thing. What is found are glacially paced, glistening free form bodies of sound. Circular Ruins is overtly natural in sound; the field recordings that are placed throughout the album bring a nice touch of life to the spacey fog of ambience that envelops you.

Overall Rating: 8.2

Favorite Tracks: ‘You Are Trembling’, ‘Found In The Ravine (Zain)’, ‘Hayley’

Recommended: Listening to a muffled choir of angels singing underwater within the vacuum of space.

Released: 20 August 2012

Links: Visit Congregations on Bandcamp

-Tyler Thompson