Electronic/drone folklore series releases new compilation.
It is perhaps to our eternal shame that we have never
reviewed anything from A Year In The Country but, it is not without
wanting. Albums are beautifully crafted
pieces of music and art that have maybe demanded much more attention that we
were able to give but, as another year closes it is time to at least give a
brief introduction to the uninitiated.
Stephen Cracknell has, as you’d maybe expect from the name,
created a project detailing a year of photos, artwork and music influenced by the
link between traditional folklore and how it sits alongside media based
folklore via tv, film, etc.… It all sounds
very highbrow but in reality it all sounds quite enthralling.
The latest album features tracks from twelve artists including
one from A Year In The Country each one haunting, ethereal or intriguing in varying
and differing degrees. From the opener
Towards The Black Sun (United Bible Studies) with its monotone bass line,
scaled tones and gentile voice it carves a pathway for the remainder of the
album which fits so beautifully together you’d be forgiven for thinking it was
just one artist.
The album ranges through some stunning instrumentation and
in many cases gorgeous voices particularly Magpahi performing She Became Ashes
And Left With The Wind which grips you early doors and tears at your heart and
soul. It’s incredibly charming with an
ability to conjure up a picturesque landscape locked way in your head.
Indeed, the whole of the album succeeds in transcending one
away to a world of simple exquisiteness.
Field Lines Cartographer (Azimuth Alignment Ritual) has a dark drone
sound which injects a light horror to the proceedings and Moons Part 1 (Sproatly
Smith) maintains the dark feel with glimmers of light and shimmers of star
It’s an album of quite wonderful quality and one which has
to be listened to with an open mind and an even more open heart. If it succeeds on drawing you in then a delve
into the back catalogue of A Year In The Country is inevitable. Be impressed.
All Hail Hyena front man releases Xmas song compilation.
Undoubtedly one of the UKs most underrated songwriters, Jay
Stansfield has been at the forefront of several critically acclaimed acts over
the years. Currently fronting postpunkmathrockgaragepsych trio All Hail
Hyena and already headlining in the North West of England, he was also leader
of tRANSELEMENt in the mid-90s and
quickly featured on several John Peel sessions.
Performing as a solo artist on and off since 2005, Jay joined forces
with Rob Ashworth and Maria Stansfield eventually being known under the acronym
SAY feature on
four tracks on Christmas Is… but it is perhaps the songwriting talent of Jay, albeit
sometimes very weird and off the wall, that shines through here. Often sugar coated in some lovely guitar
work, he has the ability to make his words take a rather unfestive turn. It all begins quite innocently with Wake Up
The Children, a tale of wanting and unrequited love praying for togetherness
perhaps with hints of Lennon and Ono, and Mike Oldfield (In Dulcio Jubilo) tucked
in for good measure.
Things in the unpredictable
world of Jay Stansfield then start to take a turn and it’s the writing genius and
impressive vocal range of the man that takes control. Each song, without studying the words, sound
like delightful Xmas ditties but listen closer – This Dream sounds dreamlike
but listen, “My gums are bleeding, it wold be a miracle, help me stop feeding
out of these alleyways“.
The Man In Red
(no relation to Chris Rea’s dirge) has distinct hints at what was to come with
All Hail Hyena complete with funky guitar breaks and wonderful reverb, and the double
chorus of A Good Last Christmas - “people will be eating the remainders of
their friends, the dead will walk the Earth because the Earth is at an end……
while Santa’s chasing children with his face all hanging off” – is nothing
short of genius.
Sometimes it’s so
horrible that it’s funny in a sort of League Of Gentlemen way but at other
times it’s sad. A Wintery December is
one such tune, a tale of wanting, a tale of desperation, a tale of loneliness –
exceptional writing. Christma$ Twenty
Fourteen goes drum and bass and, Oh! What A Christmas has a detailed narrative
that allows you to be involved in the storyline.
With four tracks
from SAY (formerly Say Jansfield) the instrument diversity is broadened with mandolin,
glockenspiel, flute and djembe amongst others and additional vocals from a plethora
of band members, the album is completed with a traditional sounding feel and a
German version of Silent Night (Stille Nach) is nothing short of beautiful.
Not your normal
Christmas album from not your normal performer, instead a delight of wonderful
melodies and often (literally) bloody lyrics.
If you want your Xmas to be filled with death, homelessness, zombies and
old people being burned alive then this is the album for you.
First Aid 4 Souls – Dark Tunnel (Digital Absynthe)
CD / Cassette / DL
7.5 / 10
Hungarian electronic darkwave artist releases his new album.
Imagine, if you can, a meeting point between Jean-Michel
Jarre, The Mission and D.A.F. Intrigued?
You should be, as First Aid 4 Souls slowly drag you into an album that is
high-powered electro-industry of an extremely infectious nature. Brought to you by Hungarian artist Istvan
Gazdag each track features words and vocals from Mortum (aka Human Vault) which
growl and snarl at every opportunity.
From the opening of Her Face As An Angel it’s pretty clear
that the album will take no prisoners.
Heavy, pumping basslines gurgle with a distinct anarchism which blends
wonderfully with a strange pop sensibility making it both pleasant on the ear
and hard on the mind at the same time.
Fast paced electronic flutters soon make way for an industrial workout
and multiple layers of synthed sounds which entice the listener in.
Each track is much of the same with a pop undertone and
throbbing Euro beats which are both dark and brutal mixing trance with acid and
a sprinkling of Goth which seems to mould together perfectly. The album is often allowed to flow freely
with a sound that Gazdag has clearly made his own and the title track stands
out as a clear highlight.
Back To Dust has an almost reggae backbeat which is curious
to say the least as Mortum’s growling vocals come into play and Dead Life To
The Sons Of Men is cleverly constructed to sound like a monastery choir amidst
heavy guitar like breaks and anthemic electro sounds created a cavalcade of
There is an element of respite in Sleeping In Death and Let
The Man Just Born slow proceedings slightly with the latter having a sprinkling
of Xmas synth chimes added to the mix and album closer Inside There Is No God
operates a neo-ambient feel as it simplistically glides from beginning to end
with a serene conclusion.
Dark Tunnel is interesting to say the least with the ability
to please several genres of listener. The
forceful deepness of Gazdag’s backing works well with the sneering vocals and the
often complicated tracks seem to gel quite easily. Best played loud to annoy the neighbours.
Unique drum and trumpet duo release their thirteenth album.
This is one of those albums that makes you regret publishing
your End Of Year lists before hearing it.
Like a meeting point between classic Pigbag and The Apples, Spaceheads (Andy
Diagram on Trumpet and Richard Harrison on drums and ‘bits’) bring you one of
the most surprisingly enjoyable albums of the year.
Tackling tales of protest from the 17th century
up to the present day they keep the red flag flying high for many an incredible
cause through mostly instrumental tracks which express power, aggression and
jubilation over several styles ranging from jazz to ska to dub with every one
being a success.
At first mention, the prospect of a trumpet and drum project
may sound uneventful but how wrong you’d be as from the opening of the highly
addictive opener The Revolution Sashays Up The Mall to the riotous energy of
Space Rebel and it’s wonderful reverb, it’s incredibly entertaining.
Sitting Down At Standing Rock pays homage to the recent protests
of new oil lines in America and Mons Dream offers a less energetic close to the
album. An album of incredible emotion, oomph
and ultimately hope, that needs very praiseworthy attention.
Tuareg influenced trio from the Golan Heights release their new album.
From Israel but not Israeli, that is the position that
TootArd regard themselves in. No
citizenship, no passports, brothers Hasan (vocals, guitar) and Rami Nakleh
(percussion, bass) together with Amr Mdah (saxophones) originate from the
occupied Golan Heights. With rich
musical influences ranging from desert rock to reggae the trio have made an
album that spans several genres and styles once unfamiliar to the western World
but now becoming more and more prominent.
The title track opens the album with a distinct rock guitar
and tumbling drums with constant cymbal patter, it’s infectious, very much so
and a subdued reggae backdrop adds an interesting dimensions which is prevalent
though much of the album. Growing up
with reggae, specifically Bob Marley, the band learned how to build simple and
effective music which over time, has evolved into something very much their
The frantic beginnings subside slightly for Musiqa, a simpler
track with Arabic riffs which are pleasant and often intriguing. The vocals are often shared between the band
and as a result a depth soon transpires to make a more solid sound. Again, a reggae beat can be heard, this time
stronger and more pronounced.
They’re not afraid to slow things down as A’sfur demonstrates.
A trip into pschycadelic (prog) rock perhaps but soon letting loose for some
wonderful melodies and a vocal line perhaps reminiscent of American
pop-rock. Again it’s captivating and
holds much more beneath the surface with every subsequent listen. It’s well-thought out and incredibly
Oya Marhaba touches ska and Bayati Blues dabbles with an
afro-funk groove and, as it’s often the case with music from troubled homelands
a positive feel and finale is often in sight.
Syrian Blues is a gorgeous end to a very complete album – catchy instrumental
breaks begging for vocals which never come - telling a story that can be made
to interpret in any such way the listener feels. A band who are for the moment, somewhat
undefined. A meeting point between
blues, funk and reggae which has no real home, much like the people that it
represents but a fascinating listen nonetheless.
Published on Louder Than War 06/12/17 - here If you enjoyed this article please follow hiapop on Twitter here, and like on Facebook here.