When Vesperwynd’s “Breathe in the Blood” begins it leads you to believe it’s going to be an able and slightly different black metal track with the feral vocals and grinding guitar sound. But as the song progresses an almost symphonic keyboard progression comes in to help the guitar trace expanding, caustic figures like tendrils of smoke. Then near the three minute mark the song takes a markedly different direction into the realm of darkwave like an unusual mixture of early Christian Death and Wolves in the Throne Room. The song hangs suspended for a moment in guitar drone before coming crashing back in with that majestic blend of cutting guitar sound, ethereal synth and processional rhythms into the outro. The song defies expectations beginning to end with where it’s coming from or where it’s going beyond the tone of the epic like a White Light From the Mouth of Infinity-period Swans song cast in black metal and ethereal post-punk tones. Listen to “Breathe in the Blood” on Spotify and follow Vesperwynd on its Facebook page and Instagram account linked below.
Dead Little Penny’s distorted vocals and guitar work create a gritty if hypnotic effect against the steady drum machine beat on “Talk Show Goth.” It’s hazy and disorienting like a lo-fi Curve song or like something Dirty Beaches might have done in his early days. Synths wash in like a bad video glitch on a VHS tape of the talk show in the title, obscuring the main musical line ever so slightly before the dirt in the mix clears up some toward the end of the song and yet it still sounds like it was recorded with some of the levels pegged like maybe Dead Little Penny listened to a bit of Times New Viking when considering the production on the song as the other songs on the Urge Surfing album aren’t as in the red sonically but share the same beautifully grimy quality that sets the project apart from bands that seem to be coming from the realm of shoegaze and psychedelic rock. Dead Little Penny’s production seems too intentional for it to be a matter of lack of access to recording equipment and the conscious choice to trust in what might be perceived as imperfections by those looking for tamer faire. Listen to “Talk Show Goth” on Spotify and follow Dead Little Penny at the links provided.
Nomke takes us far beyond the usual tropes of a song about heartbreak and yearning for something more authentic and substantial on her single “Ended (by the morning sun).” Yes, there are choruses and exquisite structure, her urgent guitar work, bright, upbeat vocals and observations about life and her relationships that didn’t work out worded in a way that’s more poetic than most of us come up with every day. But then she sings these lines that seem so vivid and compelling: “When my dreams try to break me / I want to touch something real / but this town is full of ghosts.” In those lines Nomke expresses how sometimes what we think we want and dream about ends up being if not a nightmare far less than the real, heartfelt experience we want and if we live somewhere long enough our memories of our experiences with other people haunts us and makes it challenging to get out and not feel like you’re repeating past mistakes or risk running into the people you don’t want to see anymore if you can help it. It’s a fascinating line in what might otherwise feel like a breezy pop song but even the guitar work and song dynamics have a complexity that serves the sophistication of feelings expressed and thus the song bears repeated, rewarding listens. Listen to “Ended (by the morning sun)” on Spotify, follow Nomke at the links provided and look for her album True Queen due out in January 2020.
Drug Couple makes no bones about its being influenced by Yo La Tengo and Dinosaur Jr and indeed the splintery guitar work on its new single “Be In 2” bears that out as it stretches the song’s motorik beat out some. As do the the way the vocalists diverge and take on complimentary yet disparate roles in the mix. Becca carries the melody in the more traditional manner, Miles’ more like sing-talking but both styles together give an added dimension to a song that is wonderfully fuzzy around the edges and feeling like it could come apart at any moment from the musicians not trying so hard to reign in its seemingly divergent collection of sounds. Too much music now is trying to be too clean and overproduced in unimaginative ways. Drug Couple makes a virtue of its rough edges by crafting a song that invites you in for a ride through a soundscape where you can be yourself because it is itself unburdened by the usual conventions of how music is “supposed” to work in 2019 but the real trick now is that music and art that would be difficult to imitate by virtue of a unique creative vision is far more compelling than a tired, imitative songwriting style or played out production technique. Listen to “Be In 2” on Soundcloud, follow Drug Couple at the links below and check out the duo’s 2019 EP Little Hits on its Bandcamp page.
“Dream Spectrum” is an apt name for this song by Mokhov. The mix of melodic drones, processed white noise like an Autumn breeze through branches that have not yet lost their leaves, the bright, drawn out synth melody and upbeat percussion sounds like what you’d want to hear in a dream in that upper register of that phenomenon where nothing terrible happens, just peaceful wandering and a sense of utter tranquility and health. It sounds like the kind of reprieve from heaviness and pressure that hits you in waking life every day and it carries you along rather than demand you follow the music. Reminiscent of some of M83’s instrumental tracks and their seeming ability to tap into the pleasure centers of your brain, “Dream Spectrum” runs at over seven minutes but feels like less than half that time because of how light it sits on your psyche and not in a superficial way but in the way its combined sonic forces work their way into your brain and brighten your spirits with its gentle energy. Listen to “Dream Spectrum” on Soundcloud and follow Mokhov at the links below where you can also listen to the rest of the project’s new album Sun Bloom.
Serge Bulat is a Moldovan electronic music artist who immigrated to the USA in 2009 in search of greener pastures for a career in music. His new single “Kalah Seanse” is based on the Argentinian copla “Ya Viene la Triste Noche (Vidala, Catamarca).” The song is an instrumental centered on a piano figure that evolves subtly as the song goes on with motes of synth tone that issue forth in the tonal breeze created by the piano line and all seem to move through what sounds like a large, luminous cavern embodied in your ear by low end and higher pitched drones and echoing electronic percussion. Sounds float away and flicker out and white noise hits the field of sound like rain, intermittent and ambient to the point of being nearly hypnotic itself. It’s like a miniature journey through a mystical space that seems like the memory of a walk you took in a dream to a place of great significance and tranquility. The Kalah Folklore EP will be out in 2020 but for now you can listen to its title track on Spotify and play Wurroom, a video game of an interactive art experience based on Bulat’s musical universe, developed with Michael Rfdshir. Follow Bulat at the links provided.
The George Carlin sample about government corruption and news clips at the beginning of “Tyrannology” sets the mood for the song to follow. Jon Ditty and DJ Hurley bring in Blueprint, Ceschi Ramos, Reed Skahill of Ajeva and HeyeYella of Zhudaru Crew in to give some choice words about the collaboration between politicians and the oligarchic class. Seems a bit topical now given the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. The beat is playful and charged to match the subject matter but even though the topic is heavy Jon Ditty and DJ Hurley make it accessible and relatable with deft cultural references including the chorus of part of Lord Acton’s famous maxim: “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The guest vocals never seem excessive and an excuse to have heavy hitters, it just brings some different voices to something most people of conscience have thought a lot about in the Twenty-First Century. As the title suggests, the song is a kind of character study of authoritarian regimes in the modern era as a classic echo of dictatorial orders of the past. The single is the second from the duo’s album Factory Recall and you can listen to it on Spotify and follow Jon Ditty and DJ Hurley on Facebook and Instagram (linked below).