Stargurl’s “Floral Hotline” is a Chill and Tranquil Journey Into the Depths of the Night Time of Dreams

Stargurl, photo courtesy the artist

Stargurl sets a scene of chill tranquility and dreamlike introspection with the opening section of “Floral Hotline.” The sound of wind flowing as a backdrop and intermittent tones like stars in the night or the twinkling of distant city lights. String synths stream in dusky resonance. At the halfway point a gently echoing saturated melody drifts through the mix like a buried emotional memory surfacing but still amorphous and mysterious as it takes form in the mists of the subconscious and dissolving back into that fog. The song is like an extended dream sequence soundtrack from a lost section of the film Monsters (2010) and Stargurl’s chosen tones more the night time counterpart to John Hopkins’ own sunny electronic sequences. Listen to “Floral Hotline” on Spotify and follow Stargurl on Instagram.

Neil Foster Evokes the Hushed Energy of the World After Sunset on “Nightfall”

Neil Foster, photo courtesy the artist

With the gradual replacement of sunlight with the shadowy low light and darkness of the night sky, Neil Foster arranges layers of airy drones and streams of melodic tone on “Nightfall.” What is gradual becomes an engulfing flow of cool sounds and echoing winks of single note arpeggios dotting the soundscape and rays of subdued sonic luminosity streaming through the murk like rays of moonlight. The cover image for the single shows hills shaded and billowy, gray clouds partially masking the setting sun. The song embodies the kind of hush immediately after the sun sets and before full moonrise and depending on the time of the year when the evening can seem darkest. But Foster also conveys the underlying activity that continues well after daylight takes a break before the next morning but with a sometimes subdued energy as diurnal activity transitions to the nocturnal. Foster’s composition maintains a sense of liminal wonder and tranquility that one doesn’t regularly hear in the realm of music and the track begins as it ends with a subtle fade out into what comes next. Listen to “Nightfall” on Spotify and follow Neil Foster at the links below.

Neil Foster on Facebook

Neil Foster on Bandcamp

Neil Foster on Instagram

Vague Lanes Craft a Spacious Sense of Emotional Suspension and Release on “We’ll Always Have Never”

Vague Lanes, photo courtesy the artists

The sharp, edgy and lingering guitar work at the beginning of “We’ll Always Have Never” by Vague Lanes is anchored by a subtle but moody bass line and propelled by the accents of percussion. It’s a dynamic that gives the song great sense of space and brooding atmospheres. When the vocals come in they sound like someone suspended in that space and when all the music more or less tops you can almost feel the source of the voice fall off a cliff into the splashes of rhythm and tone and the flow of synth melody that carries you until the end. The song somehow brings together the intimacy of a lo-fi recording with the detail of a full studio recording and its’ particular flavor of post-punk has more in common with early Skinny Puppy and Fields of the Nephilim at once than modern darkwave in its expert use of electronics and live instrumentation in crafting an emotive aural experience. Listen to “We’ll Always Have Never” on Bandcamp and follow the Swiss band at the links provided. The new album Foundation and Divergence released on December 24, 2022 on digital, CD and vinyl formats available through the Bandcamp link.

Vague Lanes on Instagram

Guram Tsagareishvili Captures That Liminal Moment of Catharsis at the Intersection of Despair and Hope on “Gzajvaredinze”

“Gzajvaredinze” by Guram Tsagareishvili has some charm and energy in its post-punk style with the urgent, almost pointillist guitar lead over spare drum machine. But the distorted vocals and parallel melodic, more elaborate guitar lead opens the song up emotionally and musically while honoring mixed and intense feelings of melancholic catharsis. The title is Georgian for “At the Crossroads” and the songwriter offers a tidbit of its inspiration being how “everything happened at the crossroads” including a breakup and a promise “the next song would be called ‘Crossroads’ and it would be the best thing I’d ever write.” Certainly this song expresses a mood of being at a point where everything has crashed in on you and you have nowhere to go but forward in any direction that seems right in that moment. With any luck there’s plenty more to come and further creative achievements but this song should appeal to fans of French Police, Haunt Me and Molchat Doma. Listen to “Gzajvaredinze” on Spotify and follow Guram Tsagareishvili at the links below.

Guram Tsagareishvili on Facebook

Guram Tsagareishvili on Instagram

The Acoustic Version of Vox Rea’s “Julia” Showcases the Band’s Gift for Evoking Raw Emotional Intimacy

Vox Rea, photo courtesy the artists

The acoustic version of Vox Rea’s “Julia” highlights the delicate textures and raw emotional intimacy of its tight vocal harmonies. But those harmonies like the expressive guitar work expands and blossoms with a dynamic unpredictability in emotional swells like a specific sense memory of someone coming to you suddenly. It’s a complete rework of the more rock-oriented original. The urgency is maintained but here that energy is much more immediate in a different way with everything but the essence of the feelings underlying the original stripped away and given the space for a direct expression. Both versions are so different from each other with neither outshining the other, just fascinating interpretations and manifestations of the inspirations behind the songwriting. Listen to the acoustic version of “Julia” by Vox Rea on Spotify and follow the group, slated to perform at Treefort Music Fest in March (22-26), at the links below.

Vox Rea on Instagram

Best Shows in Denver and Beyond February 2023

Chat Pile performs with Lingua Ignota at Stanley Hotel Feb 24 and 25, photo by Bayley Hanes
Equine in 2019, photo by Tom Murphy

Thursday | 02.02
What: Almira Gulch, Equine, Witch Baby and Fireball Rose
When: 8
Where: The Skylark Lounge
Why: The rare all avant-garde show at a club that normally hosts rock, pop and country including performances from musicians in the small free jazz scene in Denver as well as experimental guitar drone and jazz composer Equine.

Velvet Horns in 2023, photo by Tom Murphy

Friday | 02.03
What: Church Fire w/Elegant Everyone, Velvet Horns and An Antiquated Bluff
When: 8
Where: The Skylark Lounge
Why: Church Fire brings the weird and the emotionally charged electronic and industrial dance fire to the Skylark sharing the stage with the emo-folk-psychedelic Americana intensity of An Antiquated Bluff and the unabashedly queer emo of power punk trio Velvet Horns.

BleakHeart, photo by Tom Murphy

Friday | 02.03
What: BleakHeart w/Autumn Creatures and Fainting Dreams
When: 8
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: BleakHeart’s fusion of post-punk/dreampop and doom is not much like any other band in Denver now. Autumn Creatures from the Springs is a good fit on that bill since its own music bridges the worlds of electronic industrial, darkwave, post-metal, post-punk and shoegaze. And Fainting Dreams with its own roots in hardcore and progressive death metal finds a different musical outlet with its own emotionally rich take on dream pop.

Voight, photo by Tom Murphy

Friday | 02.03
What: Voight w/Blackcell and DJ Eli
When: 8
Where: HQ
Why: Two giants of local post-punk and industrial music that doesn’t fit narrowly into either designation share the bill this night. Voight is more on the shoegaze end but has so thoroughly threaded techno into its mix that it has become its own fusion of styles. Blackcell has been around for around 30 years evolving its own eclectic sound borne out of noise, EBM and psychedelic industrial techno.

Totem Pocket, photo courtesy the artists

Saturday | 02.04
What: VCO, Totem Pocket and Business Cashmere
When: 8
Where: The Skylark Lounge
Why: Is VCO the band from Glasgow? Who can say. Seems unlikely but if it is, it’s a kind of synth heavy post-punk pop band. But either way opening the show are two of Denver’s more promising prospects in the local underground rocks scene. Totem Pocket is a psychedelic shoegaze band that apparently wasn’t bother to listen when someone said maybe you should mix influences like Dinosaur Jr, Animal Collective and Slowdive. The idea of indie rock has become a bit of a lifestyle marketing joke in recent years but when you hear Business Cashmere it’s like they took the challenge of doing something off center from the standard pop and experimental rock and disparate retro influences formula to craft music that seems to draw on genuine emotions and dream imagery.

SPELLS, photo by Tom Murphy

Wednesday | 02.08
What: Blink 90210, Reckless Nights and SPELLS
When: 7
Where: Hi-Dive
Why: Garage rock with a touch of soul and blues band Reckless Nights is reuniting at the request of their friend Thomas/Tom Packard who is fighting stage 4 colon cancer and wanted to see one more show. So it’ll be a bit of an extravaganza. Joaquin Liebert has been a fixture of the local music and acting scene as the frontman of The Risk/Hi-Fidelity and various other projects over the years so he’ll bring high entertainment value. And so will SPELLS with their unabashed aiming for the highly attainable and completely acceptable 80% performance level but with higher than 80% songwriting and energy punk pop.

To Be Continued…

Detective Larsson Strokes a Tone of Warm Romantic Affection on Dream Folk Single “Lisberg”

Detective Larsson, photo courtesy the artists

From the opening guitar riff and haze of synth of “Liseberg” there is a mood of a deep dive into an emotional memory. Detective Larsson in using guitar and strings to bolster the warmly introspective vocals truly evokes an intimate tone of romantic affection that lingers well after the song ends and through the ending in which the artists left a touch of post-song guitar sound the way you’d hear if you were there to witness the song live. And that air of spontaneity is what keeps the energy fresh and sincere. There is a bit of Swedish folk music flavor on the track perhaps brought to the table by singer Amanda Larsson who is from Skövde, Sweden, but it also resonates with other folk traditions and it is that enigmatic yet welcoming aspect of the song that sets it apart from something that might easily be placed in a specific subgenre of pop or folk or rock. Listen to “Lisberg” on Bandcamp and follow Detective Larsson at the links below.

J.PERIOD Pays Tribute to Hip-Hop Culture and Legends in the Richly Creative Content of the Song/Video “The Legend of Globetrottin’”

J.PERIOD, photo courtesy the artist

In song and short film for J.PERIOD’s “The Legend of Globetrottin’” is an animated comic book and live action featurette that charmingly relates the tale of one of the greatest basketball matches in history between Masego and J.PERIOD. But it’s more than that, of course. It begins in a record store where crate diggers are looking for solid wax to sample when they think they spot DJ Jazzy Jeff and indeed in puppet form it is the legendary DJ. The song deftly samples sounds of a basketball game and various MCs taking verses in classic hip-hop style telling the story and the jazz samples and unconventional beats like a nod to one of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s collaborators years ago in J. Dilla. This rich fusion of elements, style and presentation really speaks directly to hip-hop culture as a significant creative subculture of American and global culture but in tying it with comics it layers storytelling styles and elements in a way that is highly accessible and experimental at once resonant with what Dmitri Jackson did with his 2018 comic collection Blackwax Boulevard: Five Years, What a Surprise (2012-2017) Watch the video for “The Legend of Globetrottin’” on YouTube and follow J.PERIOD at the links below.

J.PERIOD on Facebook

J.PERIOD on Twitter

J.PERIOD on Instagram

J.PERIOD on Apple Music

Six by Seven Transforms Supercaan’s “Zoetrope” Into a Gripping and Unsettling Soundscape From a Dark Dimension

Supercaan, photo courtesy the artists

The Six by Seven remix of Supercaan’s “Zoetrope” maintains the introspective mood of the original but highlights the otherworldly aspects of the track and its textures. It is slower, spookier and given a similarly black and white video treatment by Simon Peecock as well the song becomes an unsettling dip into a bleak mirror image of the song like Six by Seven turned the vibe inside out and stretched the breezy pop sound of the single to its limits. Lars Von Trier did not direct the video, Swans did not do the remix but that intensity and emotional menace and desperation runs through the remix and the video seems to be coming to us from the same sinister alternate dimension from which we hear the sounds of the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Suspended tones and vocals that echo in the distance and hit us up intimately close. It’s disorienting and compelling at once and completely spins “Zoetrope” into a song that is basically unrecognizable from the source material which is what some of us want from a remix worth our time. Watch the video for “Zoetrope [Six by Seven remix]” on YouTube and follow Supercaan at the links below.

Supercaan on Facebook

Supercaan on Bandcamp

Supercaan on Instagram

1st Base Runner’s Darkly Urgent “Night Stalker” Resonates With a Cinematic Menace

1st Base Runner, photo courtesy the artist

The title track of 1st Base Runner’s Night Stalker EP is a little like getting into the head of an obsessive in a focused episode. The nearly whispered only words in the song “I will follow if you leave me” are like a mantra that establishes a constant emotional image, like a rhythmic element in itself. This over percussion like a drum stick hitting an oil drums with the reverberation processed out. Later a tonally sharp, ascending arpeggio suggests urgency and in the last third of the song, full-fledged, bright drones convey a sense of pursuit like the person whose words we hear is closing in on his prey whether a person who has wronged him, or who holds the promise of some kind of psychological fulfillment or a goal, a dream that is slipping away if life is allowed to pass by. There is a sense of low key desperation underlying this industrial and synth driven track and one that implies it’s a section of a larger narrative and just like on the EP this is the penultimate chapter with the climax of the story on the horizon. Listen to “Night Stalker” on Spotify and connect with 1st Base Runner at the links provided.

1st Base Runner on TikTok

1st Base Runner on Facebook

1st Base Runner on Instagram