Monday, 16 July 2018
Saturday, 14 July 2018
Friday, 13 July 2018
Thursday, 12 July 2018
Vukovar – Infinitum (Le Recours aux ForêtsProduction / Solar Ascetisists Productions)
Cassette / DL
6 July 2018
Industrial churchcore band return with a new album.
There is mystery surrounding Vukovar, not the regular what they look like, or, what they had for breakfast but instead, the mystery is why they haven’t achieved much greater success so far as it is all that they deserve. Hints of Joy Division perhaps but with a darker, more melodious approach. Sparse in chorus but plentiful in riveting gloom presentation and wonderful lyricism, Infinitum sees them progress once more.
As if their last album proper, Puritan wasn’t testament to the incredible promise that the band have, then Infinitum blasts that into the past with nine new tracks of sombre often challenging territory. Cleverly utilising waltzy type melodies and black bass lines together with reverbed drum beats, Vukovar once more visit the place which they seem so at ease in existing.
Album opener, Rites begins with a pounding, continuous drumbeat which soon subsides to a gentle spoken word affair from their singer, who probably gives his finest performance in a Vukovar shirt to date. Synth swathes touch on the beautiful as they occasional move up and down the musical scale which leads into In The Overgarden via more spoken word and an initial opening not dissimilar to Bowie’s Heroes. The comparisons to Joy Division will always be there but ironically, sounds more like Bernard Sumner than he does Ian Curtis and, is perfectly adept at his voice reaching both low and high pitched in an accomplished, underrated way.
Vukovar are no pop band nor are they one-trick ponies as this, their fifth album testifies. They are competent enough to explore their sound further and the pain and suffering conveyed in their music is something that is severely lacking from much of today’s bands. The Skin Is New The Skin Is Ours is perhaps the albums most commercial attempt – a track of just voice and scrawny keyboard and an occasional cymbal sound towards the end – it is desperate and dramatic and simply superb.
Infinitum, and similarly Vukovar as a whole need to be listened to with open mind and heart. As the withdrawn An Invincible Prison launches into an unpredictable screeching guitar will testify. Feedback, distortion and unadulterated power. The House Of Thirteen Scenes is creepy on a horror movie scale and The Destroying Place sees them go as close to mainstream friendly as they could possibly get.
Infinitum is another triumph and however difficult and strenuous the recording process was, Vukovar have certainly put sweat, heart and soul into making it. If you’re unfamiliar with their work then now is the time to jump on board. Brilliant.
Wednesday, 11 July 2018
Friday, 6 July 2018
Thursday, 5 July 2018
Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Monday, 2 July 2018
Reed and Caroline – Hello Science (Very Records)
CD / DL
6 July 2018
8 / 10
U.S. electronic synth duo release their second album.
Once upon a time there was a man called Reed Heys. He played around with synthesizers but he particularly liked the Buchla. He had a friend called Caroline Schutz. She was a singer and she sang. In 2016, they released their debut album Buchla And Singing and it received a great review from hiapop. Now Reed & Caroline are back. Reed still plays the buchla and Caroline still sings.
Having Vince Clarke as a mutual friend certainly did Reed Hays no harm. Signing up to Very Records proved to be a wise move but, it could really have been any number of record labels with the foresight to see that the duo’s simple and effective song writing could be a success. Hello Science sees the duo back with much more of the same music that made their debut a sell-out. Vintage sounding pop with a modern twist if you will, wonderfully written and arranged and often quite beautiful.
Album opener Before, heads off an album influenced by science, its effect on the present day and its possibilities for the future. The voice of Schutz often sounds like it is fed through a vocoder, making it pure and almost robotic sounding complimenting the clinical electronic sound perfectly. Before is a superbly constructed song, gurgling and bubbling away it slowly builds with a manipulated string section with vocals that are nothing short of angelic. It somehow resists the temptation to introduce percussion and for that reason alone it should be applauded. It sets the stall for Hello Science perfectly and could easily have worked as an album closing overture.
Dark Matter ups the ante immediately. It pounds with bass and drum almost from the beginning and its position on the track listing couldn’t really be any better following the imperceptible angle of the opener. “Does dark matter, matter?” – who knows? – it does however provide an addictive and catchy strapline to the song. A near acapella break after the two minute mark allows for breath before the beat steps up once more. This is exhilarating pop if ever it existed.
Reed & Caroline seem to have hit on something with their sound. It’s unsullied and clean, you could view your reflection in it or sharpen your knives on it. It is pure, a sort of manufactured time-slip between early Kraftwerk and modern day perfect pop and, every song has a hook that is almost impossible to shake off. Each track will have you tapping a toe, a foot, maybe even a full leg and will fill you with pure joy. Another Solar System is one such song.
Its Science once more ditches the percussion element in favour of a string section with suits Schutz down to the ground. The track races and then calms with her voice duplicated and layered giving the impression of more than one vocalist and the lone violin that ends the track is sombre but somehow uplifting. The intro to Digital Trash reminds of 2004 hit They from one hit wonder Jem, sweeping violin effects and upbeat percussion once more aligning perfectly with Caroline’s voice.
Several of the tracks here are remarkably addictive with Ocean being yet another which is perfect for radio play and one just knows that it is only a matter of (short) time before Reed & Caroline are heard on mainstream radio. Entropy is jam packed with lots of subtle but effective reverb and Internet Of Things, whilst slightly amusing, does contain quite a dark story of technology takeover and possible Big Brother connotations.
The album ends with a Vince Clarke remix of Before where percussion is added together with that distinctive Erasure sound.
Reed & Caroline seem to have tapped into the current retro pop market without actually being retro pop. Superbly written songs, catchy and addictive. Wonderful synth effects and a voice that completely captivates. Any fan of synth pop will love this album.