The Mouth Of Ghosts: When The Sun Sets EP

The title track off of the When The Sun Sets EP from UK band The Mouth Of Ghosts, has enchanted and mesmerised us here for many weeks so the anticipation  going into this their debut release was greatly heightened. The five track EP proved those elevated expectations and hopes were still an under estimation of what was to emerge. When The Sun Sets is simply immense, a consuming and intense weave of atmospheric elegance and creativity brought with a sinister air to leave one immersed in darkened beauty.

The music of London-based The Mouth of Ghosts is generally tagged as a fusion of alternative rock and trip-hop and though that is accurate in many ways there is so much more to them than that. Their music is an emotionally textured presence which envelops every pore and thought with an elegance and shadow to ignite the strongest responses. They are a mix of the sky bound breath of Portishead with the indie cuteness of Daisy Chainsaw and the disturbed heart of Deftones. It is a unique and compelling sound which leaves one basking in intense beauty and swimming against a tide of inciteful energies and passions.

Formed in 2011 by guitarist Simon Langford and bassist Marco Italia with vocalist Alla Seydalieva joining not long after, the band began working on their distinct sound. Taking their name from a Dillinger Escape Plan song the band soon expanded as their sound grew its own evolving life with drummer Phil Page joining the end of last year and March of this seeing Valerie Deniz joining on synth and additional vocals. The Mouth of Ghosts is a band which lingers long after the final note of their music has given its final caress, their music once it takes hold is in every atom surrounding and within the mind and heart, the hours the title track of the EP has laid dormant within the senses easier to count than those it has erupted without warning within.

The song When The Sun Sets is pure aural majesty, arguably the best song to emerge this. Its initial restrained guitar play gives no warning of the infectious and deeply touching sound to come but once the voice of Seydalieva begins her gentle stroking of the ear and beyond, one is soon wholly hypnotised. Her vocals are simply stunning and she one of the finest singers to emerge in recent times. She has a range which only ignites fires of adoration and has a strength in her gentle and feistier intense delivery, which is unrivalled by most. The bass of Italia brings a vibrant shadow to the stunning affair, his presence adding depth to balance the solar embrace of vocals, keys and guitar imagination. The track is stunning, one of those songs you would cross deserts for, its atmosphere and darkly tinged breath an equally heated landscape.

The song still reigns supreme and heads the release in all aspects but the other songs making up the EP are no less impressive and involved for the senses. The following Patient is another slice of brilliance. It is a harder edged and shadowed track than the opener but no less intrusively consuming. The slow crawl of the song with the vocals teasing and taunting with verbal fingers of liquid gold, wraps itself around every part of the body. The song takes a slight breather midway to allow the gathering of energies to erupt into a raging fire of passion for a musical tempest of explosive invention. The track bristles and strokes with equal strength to leave one further breathless whilst deep in imagery and personal passions.

The next two songs World’s End and Close show the diversity of the band within their overall rapture of sound. The first is an emotive cry with a disruptive almost corruptive handling of the senses from the guitars and agitated rhythms behind again openly striking vocals. The electronic weaves offer comfort to words and ear to temper the corrosive sounds as the band show the skill and ingenuity of their songwriting and its realisation. The second of the pair is a shimmering haunting piece of imagination which bewitches as it takes one into an unsettling place of melodic grandeur. Again the band has a special ability to bring beauty tinged with danger and dark intensity as warm as the sun.

Closing with a cover of the Deftones track Digital Bath, a song which from its understated start evolves into another fully absorbing and remarkable wash of intensity, When The Sun Sets is simply musical excellence. The Mouth Of Ghosts is a band destined to greatness and we get the real thrill and honour of sharing their ascent.

Ringmaster 13/08/2012

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Fen: Of Losing Interest

From initially being an intriguing and pleasing presence in the ear to becoming a persistent and incessant returnee long after its departure, Of Losing Interest the new album from Fen is a thriving infection gone wild. Given the chance and deserved attention the album becomes a niggling treat for the psyche with its contagion of progressive melodic enterprise, insatiable rock n roll hooks, and mesmeric shadows. It is a release which expectations assumed would be decent going by recent history and reality shows is something far more impressive and deeply pleasing. It is an essential investigation for all which just falls short of making album of the year claims.

Of Losing Interest is the fifth album from the quartet from British Columbia which formed in 1998, and the second for Ripple Music. Previous album of 2010 Trails Out Of Gloom was the introduction for many of us to the sounds of the band, the critically acclaimed album a melancholic progressive weave to unsettle and ignite the senses. The new release is said to have taken its breath from further back in the history of the band, its heart returning to the more metallic and heavier aspects of early Fen. If that is so is for those acquainted with their first trio of albums to confirm but Of Losing Interest is certainly a robust and energetic beast as eclectic as you could wish and with muscles rippling and twisting with eagerness. It does not neglect its progressive imagination either and delivers lyrics and sounds wrapped tightly in the darkest shadows the band loves to frequent.

The album brings together a band line up first assembled in 1999 of vocalist/guitarist Doug Harrison, lead guitarist Sam Levin, bassist Jeff Caron, and Nando Polesel on drums. The foursome combine upon Of Losing Interest to offer nine tracks which thump the senses into eager submission whilst hypnotising them with a technical prowess and melodic invention which often leaves a shortage of breath in its wake. It inspires and thrills constantly to make the near forty minutes in its company only ever rewarding.

The album opens with Riddled and immediately ruffles the ear with explosive metallic riffs. It then settles into a melodic gait with the vocals of Harrison weaving his tones and words with a sure elegance whilst the guitars stroke the atmosphere with gentle imaginative invention. The beats of Polesel are strong though give the impression of a beast just waiting to burst from the cage the gentler stroll of the song allows whilst the bass of Caron stalks and prowls with menace and attitude. As the track evolves it throws of its ties to create a storming attack of sprawling riffs and inciteful rhythms.  It is an outstanding start which immediately shows the intent and turn of direction in the sound of the band.

The title track saunters in next with further addiction making sounds and intent. Bringing a Tool like craft into a fusion of melodic enterprise and barbed hooks which would not be out of place in Soundgarden or early Bush compositions, the song lights up all the right spots inside and to be honest as enjoyable as their previous album was there is already the strongest feeling that this is where the band need to be, the sounds and songwriting so imaginative and vibrant.

Every song borders perfection but some rise to greater heights than others for personal taste, the first being Nice For Three Days with its bruising charm. It is an impactful distillery of bristling energies and caustic melodic rubs which leaves one gasping in delight. Imagine the feistiness stripped from the likes Mondo Generator and Foo Fighters and given extra volts of Kyuss attitude and you get Fen on this excellent song.

The explosive multi faceted The Glove takes one to greater plateaus next with its slightly Dog Fashion Disco spiced shifting interactive play for the senses. The song is an exploration of greedy riffs and teasing melodic manipulation which excites on every level.  Drunken Relief and the closing Snake Path again leave one with raging fires of pleasure inside, the first being a dark weave of creative lyrics and oppressive yet incendiary sounds. The song one is magnetic, its shadowed heart nightmarish whilst fully compulsive. The final song leaves one wonderfully agitated with its unrelenting catchiness and irresistible energy. It is arguably the least involved song on the album but as deeply infectious and warmly inviting as any.

If the likes of Tool, Incubus, Porcupine Tree, Soundgarden do it for you than Fen and Of Losing Interest is a must. The album offers so much more though that all will find plenty of pleasure within its walls, it is melodic rock at its best.

RingMaster 13/08/2012

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Velibor Nikolic: Covek Peva Posle Rata

Experimentation in music is never a bad thing and even when it does not come off the intent ensures a respectful nod in the direction of the attempt to be different and challenging. Covek Peva Posle Rata from Serbian musician Velibor Nikolic is a release which definitely tries to be adventurous and overall succeeds with accomplished and intriguing results in achieving its aims. It is an album which gives food for thought and evokes strong pleasure and even in aspects which do not quite find the same heights as others it is still a compulsive and enterprising piece of creativity.

A member of Belgrade post-metal/alternative rock band Brigand, Nikolic was also formerly the vocalist and guitarist of Jewy Sabatay, a band which previously thrilled our ears here. Because of that fact the album emerged as a greatly unpredictable surprise, its combination of psychedelic noise, alternative folk and acoustic rock not quite what was imagined going into the release but it is never a bad thing challenging expectations. A self release primarily, with publishing through Hi-Gain Records in Montenegro and Manekeni Bigza in Serbia, the album has a fluid and expressive wealth of invention flowing through its eleven tracks which explore the songwriting and our response. Nikolic shows himself to be an imaginative and skilled musician throughout; his guitar play and craft specially ear catching. He conjures and pulls out melodies and hooks which are insistently compelling without the need for overblown antics which makes for songs which at times are uncomplicated but ultimately infectious and daring.

To get the only niggle which emerged  out of the way it has to be said at times the vocals of Nikolic struggled to connect, not always but in some songs like Miris Katrana u Prolece his stretching of notes are abrasive without relief. It should be added though in other tracks especially the rock orientated ones he is more than competent. The music itself throughout is high quality and consistently provocative to easily counter the times he has a low in his vocal journey.

The album opens with the experimental Vedrfolnir, a track which twists and scars sounds and the atmosphere with melodic and sonic ruptures. It offers a scorched ambience which sizzles upon the senses manipulating them the same way as the inventive sounds do the air surrounding the ear. Testing and roughly teasing the track is a resourceful and blistering beginning which ignites immediate anticipation and delight.

The diversity of the album is instant as the alternative melodic rock of Autsajder Trci U Prasini engages the ear with feisty melodic charm and contagious barbed hooks next. The song has a grunge breath to its presence as well as an eighties post punk air which ignites throughout for an infectious appeal. It is an absorbing track which explores its rock cored heart.

The acoustic tracks like 7234 and Pitanje take the album in another direction with ease and enterprise, the songs expressive and at times fully mesmeric even with their often salty surface, slightly abrasive yet addictive. With the vocals in his native tongue the tracks have a secret which those like us can only contemplate but the emotive edge and expressive tones make the songs books to be written by the individual.

Horizontala is a bruising rub of intensity, an eruption of metal which again leads the album down another avenue. It is aggressive and forceful, the electrified muscles of riffs and rhythms an oppressive yet magnetic lure to devour keenly. Like the album the song twists and steps into almost chaotic areas with its perpetually shifting ideas but by its end emerges as a striking and satisfying piece of invention.

The album ends on a further clutch of acoustic compositions of which Kauboj, Njegovo Dvoriste I Njegov Karton and Fosfor stand out, though all offer fine sounds and pleasing imagination. Covek Peva Posle Rata arguably at times feels like a collection of individual songs put together rather than ones linked by intent or theme but it works really well and makes for an enjoyable and evocative time in its presence. Velibor Nikolic and his album are well worth checking out and watched for further bound to be unique times.

RingMaster 13/08/2012

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