Friday, June 16, 2017

The Second Discovery Channel...5 reviews (Goshen, Writhe and Phonophobia, Crescent Days, Traven, PTRKLLR)

Hello and welcome to another instalment of The Discovery Channel.

The part of the blog where I dish out reviews of my recent musical findings on ye olde internet and any blog submissions.

If you are a DMD regular then I can safely assume that you'll probably notice a few familiar names this time around, and if you discover something here that really grabs your attention and makes you feel alive (or dead, whatever floats your boat) then please support the artist/band/label in any way that you can.

In this second edition we have 5 inspiring releases covering such genres as:

Metallic Hardcore / Mathcore, 
Harsh Noise / HNW, 
Post Black Metal / Blackgaze, 
Experimental Ambient / Electronic,
Lowercase / Avant Garde.
The first Discovery Channel can be found here

Here we go...

Internet findings

Goshen - Demo
Introducing Goshen, a California based quartet who play a mixture of Grindcore influenced Metallic Hardcore and blazing Powerviolence tinged with Mathcore. This fearsome group released their first demo back in early February which has all the fiery unpredictable rage of a bull wounded at the hands of a matador. You can never be sure when or where the injured beast is going to lash out next.

Featuring the venomous vocals of Kyle Ferguson (also known for his noise project Misery Ritual and HNW project Statichor) a man of many voices. Whether it’s low grunts, angry barking, tortured screams or retching in absolute disgust he’s got it all down to a tee.

Beginning with a flare of feedback and drumstick count in ‘Cost of Life’ tumbles into being with wild drumming mixed with powerful riffs that accommodate a few angry bursts of noise. Ferguson can be heard belting out lyrics such as “my eyes aren’t as bright as they used to be” and “the insatiable curiosity has bled me dry” with throat scraping intensity and fist clenching conviction.

Next up, ‘Host’ drags out the inharmoniousness a little more, then restores heaviness before the band spiral into the sort of inferno Converge made their trademark. There is a brief aftershock moment, then they return to the twisted intro riff once more before ending. Crushing stuff.

Shortest song ‘Terminal’ is where the grind brownie points are won, going from an intro of sharp stabs between a Dan Lilker bassline then switching between low, brutal riffing and echoic guitar lines in under 30 seconds.

Before you know what’s happening the dissonance laden build up into closing (and my personal favourite) track ‘Cave’ has already begun, accelerating into a soft exhale of noise before the real brutality is unleashed seconds later.

Featuring lyrics that speak of permanently cutting oneself off from society it’s bound to resonate with anyone who craves their solitude. The untameable heaviness mixed with the frantic reverberating guitar is still the recipe for success at play here.

A short riff break that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Dillinger Escape Plan album explodes into pounding blast beats topped with another mega scream from Kyle. This soon brings us to a bridge section awash with tormented shrieks, and an eerie high pitched guitar played through an octave pedal that cranks up the uneasiness.

Goshen see themselves out on a devastator of a breakdown which ends with a pitch lowering effect, as if the universe simply can’t handle them and is forced to collapse in on itself.

In conclusion, Goshen have produced a demo chock full of perfected twists and turns that proudly flip the bird to anyone who would rather play it safe. With that in mind it’s difficult to digest everything on offer in one sitting, but with a length of just under 8 minutes it’s what repeat buttons were made for! 

Listen / Download here:

Writhe / Phonophobia split - Tomb
With US and Russian relations at an all time low, releases such as this are a testament to the fact that love and noise conquers all. ‘Tomb’ sees Writhe, a one man Drone / HNW project from Indiana teaming up with harsh noise / ambient music maker Phonophobia from Moscow.

Writhe kicks things off with ‘Forced Down’ a swampy marsh of slow, muddy guitar with plentiful use of whammy bar to up the disorientation that gets swallowed by the prickly static forces beneath it. Second track ‘Beaten’ treads a path to a similar fate, with a violent spasming sonic attack that gets buried in a thunderous harsh noise wall. 

‘Forgotten’ begins with the still crumbling dregs of the previous wall before topping it’s layers with a sliced distorted drone. It feels as if the wall is going to strip itself down when the top layer briefly disappears at the half way point, but it makes a comeback and remains unmoved for the rest of the track. An impactful and memorable opening trio for sure.

Phonophobia's one and only track ‘Three Pedals / Closed Doors’ starts out as a thick, mad buzz that transforms into a juddering noise elongation. It changes course to more of a scream before briefly returning to the naked buzzing once again.

Building into a vile cacophonous stream of consciousness and climbing up the loftier registers, the demented choir eventually hits the glass shattering high note, met with a short and stuttering effect that copulates into a drawn out, grinding mass of glitch while the note carries on regardless. 

The noise ensemble reaches it’s coda with one final enrapturing atonal sound that faces some digital interferences before cutting out. 

As a whole, ‘Tomb’ does a great job of ensuring all the frequencies have been covered. Writhe drills down into the most chasmic depths of earth while Phonophobia blasts off into higher altitudes of discordance, allowing both sides to compliment one another and making this pairing of artists a match made in harsh noise heaven!

Listen / Purchase CD here:

The incredible Reason Art Records sub label 'Minimalist Recs' can be found here

Also from Writhe:
Split with Harsh Noise Movement - ‘A tribute to Begotten’

Listen / Download here:

Also from Phonophobia:
6 way split 'Post Soviet and Harsh'

Listen / Download here:

You can read a review of Writhe's split with Macronympha here

Don't miss out on this recent static offering from RAR Label owner Sergey Pakhomov's project LEICHEN on Grey Matter Productions
Listen / Purchase cassette here:


Crescent Days - Unbloomed
Since forming in 2013, Germany / USA duo Crescent Days have been hard at work creating a hybrid sound of atmospheric, depressive and post black metal with shoegaze and ambient music.

Latest full length 'Unbloomed' marks the second time in the band's career where founding member Abraxas has written and recorded without partner in crime Sol, who at the time was unavailable to take part in the process. Sol's first full length effort in Crescent Days was 'On This Funeral Mourning' released on Depressive Illusions Records back in 2015. All instruments are played by Abraxas and the artwork was from an outside source.

Setting the tone for much of the record, ‘.daydream’ makes itself known with a melancholy clean intro that snowballs into a set of chords marred with a slightly dirtier tone, plus a rocky beat to match. Things move into a higher gear with the raw vocals making the first of their fleeting appearances while both guitars and drum kit are beaten into submission. After a strumming section and brief return to the beat from earlier we are left with a sorrowful exit.

‘Osnabrück’ is a slow, dancing duel of guitars that ring out like church bells that offer neither hopeful or tragic news, just a stoic numbness that I find rather beautiful. There are some enhancing sounds trying to fight their way to the surface of the mix but I cannot truly decipher if they are hands running across the guitar strings, vocals filled with despair, effect laden field recordings or all three. Either way, they add to the track's aesthetic rather than taint it. For an interlude it’s extremely soulful and remains one of my personal highlights on the album. 

‘Unbloomed' starts off with droplet like chords before getting swamped by distorted guitars and a hard beating of the snare ensues. Building up to a soaring, ear catching melody sitting atop crashing drums that soon quicken up their pace while the guitar stays unmoved, which I thought was a very nice touch. The percussion drops out, leaving both the rhythm and lead guitar tracks uncovered for a short period of time but then returns with more of a slow sway to fade.

Fourth track ‘Sol’ begins with the pedigree of darkened post metal riffing employed by post metal bands such as Amenra and proudly upholds the standard of majestic leads heard throughout this release.

‘Blossom’ shows off the group’s softer side once again, daintily strumming and adding extra harmonies to make an angelic chorus of sound. A sample of a couple breaking up turns this quite delightful track into more of an emotional ordeal.

‘To Wither And Decay’ brings the metallic edge back into the equation, and on ‘Violet Miasma’ you can hear the clean pickings you’d expect to hear on Pablo Honey / The Bends era Radiohead. 

Closing track ‘P Ä L E’ marks the return of the vocals, their harsh groans pouring out over heavy blasts of distorted chords and a pop driven motif. One final clean part cues up a repeat of the motif and the exhausted sounding vocals, which after disappearing subtly change into an epic closing section. All guitars ablaze on the final push which comes to an unexpected end with a hum of sleepy chord haze extending out to the edges of earth.

Unbloomed’s strengths lie in it’s gorgeous guitar leads and the rather unorthodox drumming, which at times operates as a separate entity rather than a tool of accompaniment.

Unfortunately, for me a handful of fragments and endings begin to feel a bit too similar, and an occasionally unforgiving mix doesn’t help matters either (though black metal was never a genre built on clarity of production). The lack of vocals also mean that the record’s sole reliance is upon instrumental passages which in some cases prove effective, but at other points feel barren and weak.

Despite not being quite as multi dimensional as their past work 'Unbloomed keeps the inventive streak and undeniable musical force that is Crescent Days intact with a stripped down vision that against all the odds still prevails.

Listen / Download here:

I had a quick word with Sol, who as well as being half of CD playing the parts of lyricist, co-producer, visual arts director and occasional ambient effects manipulator is also the brains behind the almighty netlabel and blog Sunn Monolith who have released some truly deafening and wondrous compilations under the title of 'Sun Heard'. 

DMD: Despite unbloomed being an enjoyable listen I found it rather sad not to have you onboard, is there going to be a record with both of you appearing together coming soon?
Sol: Without giving much detail, I'm talking to Sebastian (Abraxas) about releasing another version of unbloomed (which will have have a different track listing).

DMD: And what does the rest of 2017 hold for you guys?
Sol: Perhaps the rest of 2017 will see something of a surprise.

If you are in a band / project and are in need of artwork, Sol can be contacted for rates and more information here:

A small review of the duo's debut release from side project Lord Sun - 'Suncatcher’ can be found here

Also Try: Pathway to Inexistence
Listen / Download here:

Also try: Violetten Blüten EP
Listen / Purchase cassette here:

ЯTLLCTЯNCS - traven.
Currently residing on a section of fenced-off wasteland in the middle of a motorway intersection somewhere in Southern England is the experimental, ambient and electronic artist clad in mystery known as ‘traven.’ who has been transmitting what he describes as “strung-out pastoral execution music” since early 2016.

ЯTLLCTЯNCS (pronounced ‘ritual electronics’) is the project’s debut EP and another offering from high quality music purveyors Aetheric Records. This short but action packed effort boasts a set of 7 polished soundscapes ready to dive into and explore.

Opening track ‘t H e c A R F A x f R A G M e n T’ gets things started off heavily in dark ambient territory with ominous synths and cold piano tones striking the hour while field recordings tread lightly beneath. A wail of feedback breaks into a screech and the synths stand sharply upright in terror before dying down. It’s only the first track, but one can sense there are some sinister audio spirits at play here.

The darkness continues on ‘What is This Place We Are In’ looped arpeggios bring a further chill to the already icy air, the crack of spine shivering guitar strings helps paint a bewitching picture of a church graveyard at nightfall.

Standing in the pouring rain, (hade) restores peace with soothing synth parts and plenty of surface noise to pass around resulting in a drenched but relaxed number.

The downpour carries on into follow up and shortest track ‘#Noguchi's NUMB3Я5’ which has a strange atmosphere thanks to an ethereal looped effect and some even stranger sounding embellishments but still holds its own when compared to it’s much longer counterparts.

‘THE NEW RADIATI∞N .I’ is a bustling hive of activity featuring amplifiers buzzing, guitar chords crashing lazily like ocean waves while people and cars appear to be going about their day in the layers of field recordings.

A piano line switching between melancholy and mysterious at the drop of a hat, the surface noise going from fizzing to light crackles, a serving of uplifting synths and a short use of ricocheting sound all make ‘To Reach "The Invisible”’ an abstract but intriguing piece of sound art.

Closing track ‘3 - ЯK’ is a soft, peaceful drone with a few rattles and screeches happening on the roadside, as the drone begins to evolve into a bright and breathtaking audio cosmos it all gets quickly shut off by the sound of a single bird call. An ending very much outside the box, but traven. pulls it off with ease.

For only a debut it’s extremely progressive, palatable and promising. It’s shortness definitely makes it all the more accessible for newcomers with each track resembling a brief but enjoyable musical getaway. Evocative, sleek and highly atmospheric, ЯTLLCTЯNCS is all killer with no filler.

Listen / purchase CD here

You can read a review of another Aetheric Records release - this time it's Clive Henry's Hymns - here

PTRKLLR - Anatoma Tobeyoides
PTRKLLR is a Seattle based lowercase wall noise project, but if you fill in the vowels then you get the name of Peter Keller, a well known and respected face on the scene. 

But for those not in the know, some of Keller’s most notable efforts include: 
  • The Anti-gentrification Harsh Noise Wall colossus known as Condo Horro
  • Hosting supernatural atmospheric HNW séances in Geist
  • Opening up the crackling noise void with Dirac Sea
  • Contemplating our imminent doom through use of drifting noise walls from Unser Verhängnis
  • Spreading the hazardous harsh noise virus through a deadly organism called Bacillus

‘Anatoma Tobeyoides’ indicates the debut release of PTRKLLR. described by Peter as “an entry into a new label of minimalist sounds called ‘lowercase noise wall.’ ” The record sees Keller honouring two of his fellow countrymen, the first of which is sound artist Steve Roden and in particular his revered 2001 album ‘Forms of Paper’. 

The other is highly influential painter Mark Tobey, who rose to prominence during the Northwest School and Abstract expressionism art movements. Mark Tobey’s painting ‘Written Over the Plains’ is used as the record’s cover and the tracks have been gifted the names of some of his other famous works. 

The title of the record itself comes from a species of sea snail found off the south coast of Australia dubbed in recognition of Tobey.

I would say that while he has made it clear whom he is doffing his cap to on this release, Keller’s more organic approach as opposed to the ghostly, digitised tones heard on ‘Forms of Paper’ make for an impressive lowercase wall of sound, even if these walls are quite literally paper thin.

Opening track ‘Canticle’ starts off with a gravelly crumpling that sets the tone for much of this release before adding more layers to create a denser structure, made up of soothing scuffles and a wet rummaging that carries on uninhibited throughout it’s 25 minute duration. 

Second track ‘Bars and Flails’ has a rougher surface featuring more tears and shredding that build and drop in intensity and by the time ‘Advance of History’ rolls around the sound emissions have come to resemble light static rainfall.

Unfortunately I feel at this point I have spent my word bank on trying to describe the events heard on Anatoma Tobeyoides but I urge you to check out this recording for yourself and draw your own conclusions from it. 

But whether you’re drawn inside it’s aura of tranquility or left in a rather irritable state in dire need of harsher textures, there can be no doubt that this recording breaks new ground in the wall noise category. 

If it’s not too bold to say, I would declare ‘Anatoma Tobeyoides’ a triumph of modern minimalism and further proof that Reason Art Records is the gift that keeps on giving. 

In search of a fresh new sound? Ditch the pedals and pick up the paper!

I briefly caught up with Peter to find out more about this groundbreaking record…
DMD: What is your personal relationship with Mark Tobey and Steve Roden’s works?
Peter Keller: I heard "lowercase" music back in the early 2000s when it first coalesced. Steve Roden is the artist that coined the label "lowercase" to describe the minimal form of sound art that uses sounds normally unnoticed and amplifies them to bring them out. 

Richard Chartier, Francisco Lopez, and Bernhard Günter are some of my other favorites in this extreme form of ambient music. Their approach lead me to think that it can translate well into the realm of static minimalist sound.

Mark Tobey is a painter who lived here in Seattle that was influential in laying the foundation for abstract expressionism; his calligraphic forms that spread all the way to the edges of the canvas to me is very much the visual equivalent of static minimal walls of sound.

DMD: What was your experience of recording Anatoma Tobeyoides?
PK: Calming and meditative. The act of manipulating paper during the recording was almost a ritual, as well as a meditation on the act of labor itself. 

While lowercase as a genre focuses on bringing to the fore the unheard sounds, the act of recording these tracks brings to focus the minor acts of work itself, and of entering the moment and staying with it while having a dialogue with the physical objects.

DMD: Will there be any more PTRKLLR releases this year? 
PK: The next album will be out on Nahàsh Atrym Productions later this year as soon as I'm done recording for it, other recordings are being planned and labels approached, so we'll see what this year brings, it's been a productive one so far.

Listen / purchase CD here:

A remastered version of Steve Roden’s Forms of Paper is available to listen to here

Thanks for reading!

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