January 21, 2017

A Cunning Man: Practical Applications Of Theurgy

How many Scots do you need to make a progressive black metal EP? Just one. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Ged Cartwright is A Cunning Man unleashes his love for the occult and Gothic math rock mayhem on his Practical Applications Of Theurgy EP. He cuts to the chase, spitting out his lyrics in the proud accent that will scare the shit out of the folks living south of Hadrian's Wall.

He is a sonic sculptor, creating towering walls of sound, with subtler noises hanging on for dear life. Only Gemma McCabe's additional vocals - plus her spoken word segment in Juratus & The Sulfur Psalm - offer a bit of relief. Cartwright's dark baritone is the dominant force throughout this 15 minutes of homemade horror. He goes for the gut and the throat, leaving the listener exhausted and intrigued. Demon, druid? Maybe both, but first of all he is a one-man army using his music as assault weapons.

Blushing: Tether

Blushing are a double husband and wife dreampop band from Austin, TX. Their debut EP Tether has all the trappings of the genre - slow waves of guitar, a floatng bass, dry sounding drums, organ like keyboard flourishes and airy vocals. The kind of music to close your eyes to and trying not to think about everyday hassles.

Their textures and smart use of echo are spot on. Tether doesn't sound like a debut by a band trying to find their bearings. They know where they are going, off to a better place where dreams can come true. It's pretty clear that Tether means connecting, not restraining, in their book.

Christina Carmona: vocals, bass
Michelle Soto: guitar, vocals
Noe Carmona: guitar, keyboard
Jake Soto: drums

January 20, 2017

Last Builders Of Empire: Άͅδης | Hades

Post-rock quartet Last Builders Of Empire goes down for a trip through the mythical Greek underworld. Άͅδης | Hades is a suite in five parts, divided into three segments. For those who are familiar with the protagonists that populate this after death empire ruled by Hades - being held in limbo in Erebus, the ferryman Charon, and the Tartarus, the Greek equivalent of Hell, this album provides a modern day instrumental soundtrack to half forgotten courses in ancient Greek history.

A classical training isn't mandatory however. As a set piece Άͅδης | Hades can be enjoyed as an example of ambitious ambient post-rock minimalism. By inviting three guest players even the bleak Τάρταρος | Further Below Than Heaven Above is softened a bit - if Hell sounds like this, it isn't so bad after all. Charon of course is smack in the middle of the five tracks, taking the recently deceased to their designated destinations across the river Styx. And while according Greek mythology the heavenly Elysian Fields and the rather plain Asphodel Meadows were also options, the Peabody, MA based quartet only set the Tartaros to music. Gloom and eternal damnation are far more interesting as a source for inspiration than being rewarded for being heroic, virtuous and righteous, or just plain boring.

January 18, 2017

Haunted Spurs: Manhattan b/w Tyrannosaurus Rx

Justin Daniel Rutz coems out swinging with his first double A-side single, Manhattan b/w Tyrannosaurus Rx. Haunted Spurs is baswically a one-man band and he played all the instrumnets, safe for the drums by Donovan Allen.

Clipping? Check? Bum notes? Quite a few. He is a guy who stumbles and falls, only to get up again and play even harder. His neighbours in Portland, Oregon, might think differently, after he set up shop in his bedroom to record these songs, but this one hell of a debut. Garage punk meets noise rock, good enough to land him some gigs besides his day job as a security guard. The folks at Dischord Records might want to drop him a line.