Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sofia Sarri - Euphoria (2017)

When you have started out in bands like Night on Earth where you have demonstrated abilities and talents that leave the audience stare with awe, it's not strange that, when you create your first personal work, it is going to be an opus of this caliber.

I had a special relationship with Night on Earth when I lived in Athens as I had the chance to watch them live numerous times, one with Thanasis Papakonstaninou of course. That band was a special case to say the least, as they were something like a more classical (in orchestration) version of Portishead, mixing this with post-rock formulas which, 10+ years ago, hadn't yet become so trite, in my opinion. Night on Earth's ace in the sleeve though was none other than small and delicate Sofia who, just by looking at her, it didn't look like she could pull this strength. The whole Night on Earth collective was always comprised by skilled musicians, but this voice automatically set them several levels higher.

To be honest, I haven't followed on Sofia's activities for many years now, and this album is an unexpected pleasant surprise. This girl here obviously just does as she likes and this shows the width of her influences. Stepping even on the avant-garde limits, she uses acoustic and greek traditional instruments for her voice to step on, in jazz rhythms at one time and in more classical ones at the other, always in an intense dark melodiousness, and a latent "norwegian" feeling. For instance, Kari Ruesslatten came a lot on my mind, among others. Anyway, I think I've said enough, you can listen for yourselves:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Belated obsessions: The Men - New Moon (2013)

Hoping to maybe write about more albums that have "matured" inside me years after their initial release (because this is something that happens to me from time to time) in the future, I thought I'd make the start with The Men's masterpiece from 2013. The band from Brooklyn, having started to be discographically active since 2008, released their debut full-length Immaculada (2010) which sure earned them a certain distinction among the scene of the time. And this distinction was because of a unique way they had of blending garage rock with '70s punk and post-hardcore, while adding some noise elements of their own. Always an interesting band, but they never monopolized my interest in a really special way. Knowing of their existence, I always knew they were there, and when I came across tracks of theirs from time to time, I always thought "this is an OK band" and that was it.

Until last year when (I don't really remember why or how) I started listening to New Moon which was lurking in my hard drive for a couple of years. The sweet and mellow melody of the opener "Open the Door" caught my attention and the first thought on my mind was "hey hm yeah these guys are usually unpredictable, this is probably just an intro or something". But with track 2 "Half Angel Half Light" I started thinking that we probably have something special here after all. Going through to the end of the album, I wanted more. I pushed play again. And again, and again. I think this is as much as you need if you'ew going to realize that this is not a common album.

The Men, in New Moon, sounded like a slightly different band from how I remembered them or from the idea I had about them. Here, we have a maturity that is usually carried by a band that has conquered its influences, has set its musical limits with a defining certainty, and now feels comfortable to wander anywhere its mood tells it to. New Moon is considerably softer than its predecessors, increasing the use of acoustic instruments and decreasing the noise elements (although they are not totally absent). The final result is warm but also bitter, melodic but also dark, soft but also harsh. From the nostalgic harmonica in "Bird Song" to the unstoppable pounding of "the Brass", and from the melancholic melody of "I See No One" to "Supermoon"'s noisy psychedelic outbreak, this is a record that can stand the test of time as it clearly is a depiction of the creators' psyche, nothing more and nothing less. Have a taste.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reveal - Flystrips (2016)

This is one of the (very few anymore, actually) times that I just feel compelled to write about a record. Even more so because it deserved by right to be in my top-10 for 2016, but it crossed my path only a week or so ago, so it missed that window by a little.

It is my first contact with these guys. Reveal come from Uppsala, Sweden and I could say that they're a pure hate-them-or-get-hooked-on-them case. Their lo-fi, nihilistic, misanthropic, grumpy and cacophonous sound is a blend of numerous things, or it is numerous things that come to one's mind listening to them. Early '90s Norwegian blackmetal, noise rock, alternative, punk, '80s-era Bathory, and so on. This was a purely unexpected musical experience for me, and I really can't beginto describe about nerves it touches in me as iot probably touches different ones for everyone else but in the end I'm sure that it triggers the same things to everyone that has grown up with dark music in general during the '90s. Enough with words, this is a record one just has to experience.