Zebra Pulse – Hey, Vay Bae-Bays

Zebra Pulse -  Heh, Vay Bae​-​Bays

Last year, Edmonton, Alberta’s Zebra Pulse released ‘Endings’, a collection of strange, off-kilter tracks which consisted primarily of warped tape manipulations and obscure percussion. It was an album that, although creative and ambitious fell just short of being something great for me. When I reviewed the album I noted that many of the noises and electronic elements just didn’t jive with the drumming as well as I think they could have. Instead, it felt like they were clashing rather than complimenting and took a lot away from what the album could have been.

On ‘Hey, Vay Bae-Bays’, the latest album from the group the band addresses many of the issues that I had with ‘Endings’ and expands on the basic groundwork that can be heard in their back catalogue of recordings. On the bandcamp page, the band advises not to listen “if you are pregnant, have a heart condition, or are operating heavy machinery” and while this cautionary remark may have been tongue-in-cheek the new record reads like a valium prescription. While Zebra Pulse has always been a trippy listen, their latest release is even more sonically fucked up and conscious deprived.

For starters, the recording quality sounds better than that of any of their previous released material. Although, it wasn’t a crippling problem on ‘Endings’ the recording quality on their latest adds a new level of  clarity and depth to the drumming and where the samples and electronic elements once sounded flat it gives the samples more of a layered multi-dimensional sound.

Although these guys have refined their sound that doesn’t mean they’re any less weird or unpredictable than they’ve been. The percussive elements are all still here with all of the off-beat oddities that made ‘Endings’ a good listen but the playing seems to have a bit more direction than I noticed before. Not only has the drumming and noise elements become more tightly executed but the way the band acts as a whole has become more precise. Instead of directionless drum jams and random samples there is a better sense of progression and I think Zebra Pulse sounds more like a band than just a decent session of recorded jams.

The record shows an added attention to the pacing of each of the tracks. The second track, ‘Every Trilogy is a Movie (Parts 1, 2 & 3)’ is a slow moving,  psychedelic haze of pitch-shifted vocals, distorted instrumental loops, and aimless drum sequences while the track ‘Technical Space Composition No. 5’ shows a bit more direction and although chaotic it may be the most structural piece the band has done.

While ‘Hey, Vay Bae-Bays’ isn’t the most structurally sound album you’ll here this year it makes up in originality and unpredictability making this an album that will leave you wanting to come back just to dissect the free form drumming oddities and catch every weird tape manipulation. Even with that said the band doesn’t lose sight of what they’ve been doing, its not like they’ve gone out and created an album that is completely accesible; if there is any indication of what this record is it could be summed up by just the title alone, an eclectic and strange record that is carful not to give up it’s creativity for a more accesible listen. If you’re looking for something completely unpredictable then let it be this.

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Overal Rating: 7.3

Favorite Tracks: ‘Technical Space Composition No. 5’

Recommended: Take a look at the Ramshackle Day Parade back catalogue.

Released: 02 May 2013


Zebra Pulse Bandcamp page

Ramshackle Day Parade

The band’s WordPress

-Tyler Thompson

Ben Bennett – Spoilage


A live performance or a mental breakdown? In clips documenting avant-garde musician Ben Bennett’s performances viewers are exposed to a man who seems to be tragically absorbed in the absurdity of his own performance. We see and hear a man exploiting a number of strange instrumental creations, dragging objects, throwing them, and sometimes doing many of these things at once but curiously, one thing we don’t see or hear is the use of any electronic or conventional instruments. The music in these live performances is more a product of Ben’s physical presence, the improvised use of his surroundings and the music on ‘Spoilage’, the debut release from the Columbus, Ohio artist, is yet another way of documenting these live moments of physicality, sweat, raw energy, and auditory abuse while attempting to contain them in one collective medium. Although contained, what is heard on ‘Spoilage’ is anything but tame. With his Experimedia debut, Bennett utilizes an arsenal of modified instruments, found objects, and whatever he can get his hands on to create a electroacoustic cluster-fuck of cacophonous noise, a masterful piece of work that is more human than music.

With an album comprised of tracks featuring titles such as ‘If you want to hear some definite pitches, I’m sure you could make some yourself pretty easily,’ among a slew of other wordy and caustic suggestions, as one listens it becomes apparent that these titles themselves sum up, in a mouthful of words, the intent behind the entire record. These names lend themselves to the sonic qualities found on a record that contains an intimidatingly long grocery list of unorthodox instrumental creations, some of which are as familiar to music as a drum set, and others that are otherworldly MacGyverist creations, which all collide to create a sound that is all its own, one that is as physical as it is audible, a language of sorts that while primitive  in practise is careful not to sacrifice it’s potential to be innovative.

In a way, Bennett has created an aural vocabulary for himself; a bank of sounds that make appearances throughout the entirety of the album, sounds that are as diverse as they are consistent, all tied together through the musician’s spur-of-the-moment use of his own creations and whatever objects he is surrounded with. The style of percussion the musician explores on his debut is unlike any kind of drumming you would expect to hear; explosive, bombastic bursts of noise, a primitive account of musicianship. While his style of playing may at first come off as a soup of metallic battery, it becomes clear that, above all of the noise, patterns emerge along with tinges of free form jazz pushing it’s way through the cracks between these concrete sounds.

What makes this collection of noises so listenable is the contrast in-between all of the chaos. At times Bennett thrusts himself into the throes of aggression, battering his instruments into submission, while on other tracks his focus tends to be reserved. On ‘Everything / Everything / Everything’ these two contrasting qualities coalesce, confronting us with howls and distant raw screams that climb their way above the pummeling, discordant drumming that is sandwiched between brief interludes of tense silence before erupting and submerging the listener back into the former. The track is pure catharsis and offers those listeners sticking around for more extreme noise music a place to immerse themselves within this varied, yet consistent, collection of offerings.

The music on ‘Spoilage’ undoubtably warrants itself as a work of a physical nature, the extremities of which are skillfully documented courtesy of producer, James Plotkin (of drone group KTL) who has mastered numerous releases from a variety of extreme and unconventional acts. These improvised pieces  that make up ‘Spoilage’ create an illusion of actual depth within these recordings, a clear sign that music is not a product of a studio environment, it instead surrounds us, created and even found in every facet of our lives much like the objects in which Bennett creates employs in his work.

Inventing and Reinventing. Constructing and deconstructing. Creating and destroying. These all seem to be prominent themes on this album and they are all techniques Bennett uses in order to perform these aforementioned atrocities of sound. ‘Spoilage’ is a very confrontational record; full of energy and at times even aggression, Bennet using whatever means necessary to create as much of a racket as possible at one time, even sacrificing the limitations of his own body. Every sound heard is the result of something that is one part instrument and one part human, at times the two becoming one in the same.

Although it is apparent that this album is a collection of documented live performances, it still offers so much more, separating itself from a typical “live album” establishing a sense of meaning, even if that meaning is not completely clear or blatantly stated. Ben Bennett may be new in a sea of noise acts but he places himself up with and perhaps even above some of the contemporary like-minded noise makers of his kind. ‘Spoilage’ is a piece of work that is clearly unconventional, even in terms of the avant-garde. It is a piece of music that rejects all conventional aspects in which we come to expect from music while surprising us with Bennet’s expansive repertoire of noise making abilities, all of which range from a discordant racket to something sublimely musical.

Overall Rating: 9.0

Favorite Tracks: ‘Have you ever considered taking a break from listening to music for a while?’, ‘Everything / Everything / Everything’, ‘I’ll call you when I get creamed by a motorist’

Recommended: Sounds like Colin Stetson and Zach Hill join a grindcore band.

Release Date: 01 October 2013


Check out some background information regarding ‘Spoilage’, stream the album, and watch videos of Ben Bennett performing live at: http://label.experimedia.net/025/

All proceeds from digital sales of the album will go to Living Energy Farm, a project to build a farm, community, and education center without the use of fossil fuels or, in the theme of the album, electronic media. For more information visit: livingenergyfarm.org

-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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Tumblr: pigeonbreeders.tumblr.com

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/pigeonbreeders

Bandcamp: pigeonbreeders.bandcamp.com

Facebook: facebook.com/pigeonbreeders

-Tyler Thompson

Zebra Pulse – Endings


2012 delivered quite a few new and unexpected and refreshing acts, especially when considering the variety of great noise releases from this year including larger projects such as Kevin Drumm’s arresting long-form release, ‘Relief’ to newer gems such as Divorce, So Stressed, BNNT, White Suns, and that Wreck and Reference debut that resonate so well with me. Overall the amount of creativity that came out of the experimental music scene in 2012 was overwhelming to say the least. Zebra Pulse however, is a noise project of an entirely different variety, offering a their own take on what seems to be an infinitely expansive genre.

Within the past year I’ve been hearing and reviewing quite a few projects from Edmonton, Alberta, specifically noise and experimental music ranging from the meditative noise of Pigeon Breeders, to Taiwan’s surreal nostalgia driven soundtrack experimentalism, and Meat Force’s horror inspired glitch pieces just to name a few. Zebra Pulse is a four piece noise band whose wholly improvised approach to noise music combines free-form drumming with electronics such as tapes and turntables that results in a wholly organic collage-like body of sounds.

What you will hear on ‘Endings’ are plenty of off kilter drumming set to a background of strange and sometimes unsettling noises. These noises range from discordant harsh electronics to warped vocal samples. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the review, Zebra Pulse’s style works like a collage of sounds, each musician bringing together different pieces of the music, many times pieces that shouldn’t go together and build from it. Their approach to creating noise rock is much like attempting to fit a puzzle piece in a place where it shouldn’t go; instead of finding the proper pieces Zebra Pulse says “fuck it” and smashes it into place until it does fit and thats not to say that this technique doesn’t work well, in some cases it works surprisingly well, much more than you’d think a band with a drummer and three other guys playing with tape loops and record players would be able to make it work. Other times however, the songs do come of as sounding forced or just out of place.

While there are moments where the electronics do compliment the drumming for the most part they come off as sounding like improvised pieces where drums are just being played overtop of a bunch of noise. ‘Endings’ lacks cohesiveness, the album sounds more like a bunch of jams than a fully realized record but although not entirely gripping it makes for an interesting listening experience for fans of noise and experimental music who are looking for something out of the ordinary, even in genres where ordinary is an often foreign word.

Overall Rating: 6.2

Favorite Tracks: “In The Tub In The Club”, 1GB of Dada

Recommended: BNNT

Released: 12 October 2012




-Tyler Thompson

Pigeon Breeders – Nocturnal Reveries

Nocturnal Reveries is a 7 track album by experimental ambient / noise trio Pigeon Breeders based in Edmonton, AB which was released on the Ramshackle Day Parade label. On Nocturnal Reveries the band focuses on creating lush bodies of noise that see Pigeon Breeders working with a more organized arrangement of songs as oppose to the freeform chaos that has become ubiquitous to this style of music.

On Nocturnal Reveries the band exploits and manipulates their instruments into forming layers of texture in order to create an encapsulating amount of depth. What sounds like bottles or pieces of metal clank together in the foreground of ‘Urban Decay’ while orchestral bodies of sound rise and fall in the background. The track does meander for a little bit but further in it becomes more dense and intense as a variety of strange and otherworldly noises are introduced into the mix. Modulated pitches emit swirls and screams and rebounding bleeps and bloops that appear as though they are interacting with each other. As I listen I imagine the sound coming from a large mothership hovering above a city. As I described, there are a ton of sound to hear in the second track alone but throughout the span of the album Pigeon Breeders continually introduces something different, even if you are unsure of what the origin of the sound is. I think what is even more impressive is that Pigeon Breeders doesn’t simply stick to a certain set of sounds, they maintain their own identity through their playing style and consistency alone.

One of my favorite things about Pigeon Breeders is each members ability to play like a normal band, to turn these otherwise directionless, formless ambient / noise epics into more structural compositions by introducing instruments not normally prevalent in noise and ambient, specifically the drumming on ‘Garlands’ and ‘Light Clutter’ in which the band implements into their songs surprisingly well. The drums aren’t just thrown in either, Pigeon Breeders instead builds the other components of their music around them adding an additional level of familiarity to an otherwise alien mixture of sounds. Instead of playing like a normal band, with guitars that sound like guitars, synths that sound like synths, bass that sounds like bass, etc. they use their instruments to create sounds that the instrument wasn’t initially designed to create; in a way the band transcends the identity of a band in relation to their instruments and instead, like many ambient / noise musicians they ditch the whole idea of the musician behind the music by introducing familiar sounds that are unfamiliar within a specific genre.

There were moments on this album were I was feeling bored. I was impressed and constantly intrigued by the first half of the album, it all felt so dense and at the same time airy and expansive but after ‘Light Clutter’ a lot of what I heard didn’t really do much for me, the rest of the album felt static, it lacked the energy that I craved from earlier in the album which is unfortunate considering how strong the album was up until that point. This is a good release from a young group that simply lacks a little polish. The trio creates organized movements of sound that remain complex and spontaneous in nature, it is as though they are not being composed by a group of musicians but by a body of advanced machinery or a piece of futuristic technology; that of which is the raw collective sounds of metal rubbing against metal, hissing and screeching, and low hums juxtaposed by high orbital sirens that surround the listener making it apparent that this release is just as much a visual experience as it is an audible one.

Overall rating: 7.4

Favorite Track: ‘Urban Decay’, ‘Garlands’

Recommended: The sounds of an alien space craft flying overhead.

Released: 17 March 2012

Links: Check out Pigeon Breeders on Bandcamp


Dementia & Hope Trails – Parts of the Sea I & II

Dementia & Hope Trails is the solo project of prolific experimental musician Justin Marc Lloyd. Justin has performed in a multitude of bands and projects and has been releasing a constant stream of visual and musical content for some time.

Some people will argue that the idea of consistently releasing material comes at the expense of said material lacking in quality. At times this theory does prove to be true, especially when taking into account the tradition of productivity that is so abundant in musical circles such as drone, ambient, and noise which have been made all so susceptible to these accusations. Fortunately, Dementia & Hope Trails proves these accusations wrong; given the amount of content and even more so the quality of it ‘Parts of the Sea’ holds it’s own rather well. The first part of this double album features six tracks while the second half are three much lengthier racks, two of which reach past the 20 minute mark with the entire album coming to a nearly whopping two hours. Because of this I think it is important to keep in mind that like many other drone and ambient projects this is an album that is best experienced in one full uninterrupted listen (mood lighting optional).

Like any good piece of epic work, whether it be literature, film, or in this case music it is careful to begin things slowly which is apparent in the first track. Track two starts to pick the music up; ‘We Sent Hearts Soaring’ is a massive, beautiful soundscape brimming with the normal lush ambient swells, spacey echoes, and a catalogue of many other strange, uncommon, and ethereal sounds that make for a lush but calm track.

Another standout track, “Hazy Love Drifting Down A River” airy washes of slow moving chords flood over the listener. Eventually it all builds into a loud monolithic construction, intensely so, although not in such a way that it is unlistenable or intrusively noisy but in a self-liberating way that is not so structurally different from a Godspeed! crescendo. While listening, getting lost in the dense clutter of sound it is hard to forget that all of this is being created on the spot and when it comes to improvisation, proper attention to detail is crucial in not ruining the delicate pace and tonal atmospheric qualities of what one is attempting to accomplish. There are plenty of laid back repetitious moments as to be expected but Justin does well in making sure not to bore the listener making sure to implement a good deal of recognizable sounds and by that I mean sounds that actually sound like they are being made with an instrument.

Justin’s colorful visual aesthetic transfers over in his music, sometimes to the point of being saturated in a colorful palette of sound. Seas of shimmering reverb, crushing slabs of psychedelic noise, organ-esque synth tones, and cascading volume swells that seem to go on forever all add to the complexly layered construction of these songs. Some of the textures on ‘Still Replaying’ are so vibrant and colorful that it makes it hard to believe that ‘Parts of the Sea’ was completely improvised all in a single take on guitar with no overdubs when it was recorded. Some of the songs actually sound like they were composed, written out prior to being recorder. The sounds on these albums are like tearing into a pack of gummy worms, they’re colorful and delicious except in this case the gummy worms last nearly two hours and are the size of a mountain. Maybe that was a bad analogy…

‘Sunflower’, which is probably the most progressive track on the album in that it is constantly evolving and building to a climax. Although it ranks in as the second longest track at 24 minutes it is possibly the most accessible piece of music on the album. Although I feel that ‘Sunflowers’ is probably the best track (my personal favorite at least) I do feel that the guitars may be a little too trebly, especially for a track that lasts 24 minutes. Sometimes it can be grating for those who are not as familiar with noisier elements in ambient music, especially taking into account the recording style which sometimes contains peaks in volume. There are so many sounds on this sprawling epic of a release that it calls for multiple listens in order to fully digest the product of something so expansive. The final and longest track, “I Miss You, Don’t Fall Asleep Yet” is a cathartic journey of transcendental ambience and psychedelic noise. It eventually mellows out into a looping state of modulated drones. As the track continues more guitar tones get thrown into the mix of the composition building off of each other, reverberating and echoing up to the end of the album where distant vocals can be heard singing the title of the song.

As much as I just want to praise this album and not say anything negative about it, ‘Parts of the Sea’ is not free of it’s shortcomings. Although I cannot respect the spirit of this style of music and the improvised nature of it enough, the fact that it was improvised is somewhat of a flaw. For being completely made up on the spot the music is great, more than great actually but I feel as though it is not fully realized. It makes me wonder what Justin could have done if he had recorded other tracks overtop of what he had or manipulated the end result in post-production. Choosing a recording style, especially one like this is a crucial decision that sometimes opens up possibilities and other times restrains the musician causing them to work around whatever negative aspects that come with it This is of course a very small flaw seeing that end result sounds like a realized piece of music and as I mentioned previously, some parts of the album actually sound like they were written prior to recording as though they wren’t improvised at all.

The album starts off simple enough, some pretty ambient soundscapes, nothing out of the ordinary for ambient music but then everything takes a left turn and about halfway through the second track you realize that you are on a very different kind of ride, something so different and futuristic that it will surely take more than one listen to digest. It is all constantly changing, always moving, seamlessly shifting, deconstructing and reconstructing itself in so many ways. At times is is soothing and at other times it is apocalyptic and frightening, a formula for an instant classic. ‘Parts of the Sea’ is always something different with each listen and is almost never uninteresting or boring. There is very little I can say about this negatively. This is surely the result of trial and error, passed time, hours of messing around, doing things wrong and not giving a fuck if it is correct in the normal sense of what is considered “right” in music; this is indeed the work of a musician who has nearly perfected his craft.

Overall rating: 9.8

Favorite Tracks: “I Miss You, Don’t Fall Asleep Yet”, “Hazy Love Drifting Down A River”, “We Sent Hearts Soaring And Sailing At The Same Time” “Sunflower”

Recommended: Similar to attempting to stay awake in a house full of carbon monoxide while consuming an overwhelming amount of candy and ultimately failing. Progressive and futuristic. A monolithic audible depiction of spacial and apocalyptic visions. In the “about” section of the Facebook page it describes the music as being like “if This Will Destroy You actually destroyed itself”.


Violent Threads

Justin Marc Lloyd

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Click the links below to download both parts for free:

Part of the Sea I

Parts of the Sea II