The HAARP Machine: Disclosure

As mesmeric as it is provocative and as brutal as it is emotively elegant, Disclosure from The HAARP Machine is magnificent, a stunning and enlightening storm which easily grabs the debut album of the year award.  With their signing to Sumerian Records earlier in the year there has been a great buzz and anticipation surrounding the band but one wonders if any outside of the London quartet saw such a masterful release coming for their first true introduction to the world. It is an album which explores and explodes boundaries, a maelstrom of ideas, sounds, and textures which barge and impact on each other like an aural sandstorm yet are so skilfully conceived and realised the songs shine and radiate like sonic diamonds to ignite only the fullest captivation.

The HAARP Machine began in 2007 with Al Mu’min, the guitarist creating the project as an expressive outlet for his musical ideas and heart. The first couple of years saw struggling to find a solid line-up of musicians with the same drive and passion as himself. Creating demos and music which were drawing some attention without finding any true fire of interest, Mu’min contacted Dan Foord (Sikth) in the autumn of 2009 about doing a session on an EP. Though Foord could not commit beyond that moment the emerging music from their collaboration woke up a keener interest and intrigue within people. Many line-up changes ensued, including seeing Craig Reynolds (Viatrophy) involved, as Mu’min set about finding a settled line-up of musicians to capture the imagination, sound, and drive of the band. Now with vocalist Michael Semesky, bassist Oliver Rooney, and Alex Rüdinger on drums alongside Mu’min, Disclosure shows that the determination and patience was worthwhile in finding the right people, each member immense in their roles and invention within the band. After releasing a pre-production demo to keep some kind of momentum going in the interest towards the band, the band was approached by Ash Avildsen the owner of Sumerian Records with an offer of a deal to help complete the first part of what one can only expect to be a long journey for The HAARP Machine with the release of the album on October 15th.

Disclosure is a staggering intense weave of majestic progressive metal, destructive death metal, and disorientating tech metal, and that is simplifying it. The release is a perpetual tsunami of invention, imagination, and emotive intensity. It is magnetic and bruising, the songs an unrelenting surge of unpredictable but fluid creativity which you wonder if in the hands of any others would actually come together let alone sound as good. At times it can be overwhelming, the album never allowing the time to take a breath or contemplate what is before such its constantly shifting soundscape which at times flirts with chaos though it never comes close.

The album opens with the quite brilliant Esoteric Agenda, a track top and tailed with shimmering ethnic sounds and instrumentation. It is not long though before an opening crescendo of power barracks the ear with a furious onslaught of crippling rhythms, scything sonic manipulation and abrasive riffs. The track has body parts unleashing their energy in shifts, at times feet at one with the venomous drums, in others the head offering whiplash possibilities within the intensive assault. The vocals of Semesky are superb whether with a heated clean delivery or caustic rabid growls whilst the music shifts through all shades of violence into soothing piano touches It is an impressive start which is eagerly matched by the rest of the album.

Tracks like Lower The Populace and Pleiadian Keys sear flesh with the acute sonic blazes to then trample the wounds with a mix of corrosive malevolence and soothing whispers, the blend perfect. The senses are awestruck throughout and sent into meltdown with songs like From Vanity To Utility and the title track. The first of the pair is a furnace of melodic fire from guitars and the wonderful piano breath within the tempest of barbarous riffs and ravenous intense energies all fuelled by the abrasive passion of the song whilst Disclosure sirenades the imagination with further ethnic caresses and a barbed progressive grandeur so that even in its most enticing warmth the music is carnivorous in its intensity.

As mentioned there is so much going on it means with each play every song is a different creature, each subsequent engagement unveiling more and more of their riches, which songs like The Escapist Notion and Extension To One, well to be honest all tracks, have in abundance.

The HAARP Machine has in Disclosure created an album which stands right up there with the latest releases from Between The Buried And Me and The Faceless; a release which truly is songwriting and craft at its most imagination and skilled. This band is going to be huge.

RingMaster 13/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Rob Marr – Anatomy

Anatomy is the second album from English singer songwriter Rob Marr, a release which offers musical kitchen sink drama within equally emotive and dramatic sounds. It is not a release which demands attention but is an unassuming collection of songs which connect and grow into charming companions to lose oneself within. For the album Marr collaborated with ex-Sly and the Family Stone drummer Andy Newmark who upon first listen to his music admitted it was ‘not his cup of tea’ before discovering, to both of their delights, that it was an acquired taste. That is exactly how Anatomy evolved here too with its initial presence just an engaging but underwhelming introduction though some songs did spark up the imagination. Returning to it many times and finding elements making unannounced appearances in the head away from its body the album grew into a delicious slice of well crafted and inspired songs led by the lyrical prowess of Marr.

From London, Marr first grabbed attention with his debut album Domestic Dramas of 2007 and even more so when an EP featuring ‘the cream’ of the album was released the following year to ignite the attention of the likes of Tom Robinson and an increasing fan base. Around this point Marr also impressed with headlining shows at places such as The Roundhouse and Ronnie Scotts where he was supported by Jamie Morrison (The Noisettes) on drums and bass player Al Mobbs (Gorillaz). It was whilst rehearsing for a 6 Music Festival in 2009 that he met Newmark, with the latter getting in touch a few months after to suggest working together for the next Marr album.  Two years in the making the album was created in the Kent apple barn conversion of Newmark and the loft of album producer Ronnie Moore.

The first single from the album Fencebuilding appeared at the end of 2011 to a strong response which was built upon even more so by the following single Fat And Happy leading to strong anticipation for Anatomy itself. Fencebuilding opens up the album and is the most instantly infectious song on the release. Immediately it wraps the ear in suspense and dramatic breath to pull a full focus upon its piano led charms. It is an aural glimpse into the heart of a relationship, its air and emotive texture. It is a show tune, a track which one can visualise in a film or on stage, though it avoids the over blown melodrama and fat excesses one finds in many of those type of songs to be an easily lying piece of imagination within thoughts and heart. The piano and rhythms are contagious and the vocals of Marr in bringing the great lyrical premise outstanding but it is the wonderful harmonies provided by guests the Smoke Fairies and Nikki Blackham which ensure the emerging adoration for the song is long lasting.

Summer In The City and Dirt Beneath Your Toes, the latter again featuring Smoke Fairies, continue the magnetic start to the album. The first has a great guitar tease behind the keys to offer a smouldering groove to the gait of the track whilst the second is a sultry and idyllic piece of melodic swagger, a warm breeze which just lights up the senses and heart. Within the first trio of songs there is a freshness of flavours and warm energies which meld classical, indie, soul, and jazzy essences into an eclectic breeze.

As Fat and Happy strokes thoughts with its fine classical caresses, it swings into a teasing little stroll with a funk heart and mischievous intent to its satisfied presence. Comparison to the songwriting of Andy Partridge comes to mind as it paints its picture, both able with precise yet uncomplicated structures able to evoke sharp feelings to familiar scenes.

Just because of personal tastes the album does not quite have the same hold from the following song onwards, the first four songs glorious in their craft and presence. To be fair though songs such as Anatomy Of A Lover and That Was Then, This is Now do nothing less than leave one fully captured and satisfied.

Anatomy is a fine album which finds a place in the day like the rays of the sun, overall both warming and reassuring in their touch. If unique and eccentrically visualised pieces of melodic honesty fires your imagination than Rob Marr is the man for you.

RingMaster 13/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Earthship: Iron Chest

Like a sonic juggernaut Iron Chest the new album from German sludge metallers Earthship crushes the senses into a submissive but gloriously satisfied husk. It is a release of crushing riffs, corrosive intensity, and ravenous rhythms toned with a fiery progressive grooved breath, an album to incite passion and provoke primal responses.

Iron Chest is the follow up to acclaimed 2011 debut Exit Eden and shows the band has not only evolved their sound but expanded every element in their musical arsenal to create a release which chews one up greedily and spits them out as an intrusively pleasured wreck. The band was formed in the spring of 2010 by ex- The Ocean drummer Jan Oberg alongside Dennis Boettcher on drums and Bastian Gutschke on bass guitar. The line-up was completed soon after by The Ocean guitarist Robin Staps. The line-up recorded Exit Eden with its release on Pelagic Records coming in early 2011. Leading up to the release the band played their debut gig in December of 2010 supporting Torche and followed it with the Friction tour across Europe alongside The Ocean, Red Fang and Intronaut. Just before the tour Gutschke left to be replaced by Sabine Oberg, the wife of Jan, and the beginning of this year saw the departure of Staps with the band shrinking to a compact trio.

Again released through Pelagic, Iron Chest raises a tempest upon the ear from the first note of opener Old Widow’s Gloom, its charged breath and erosive energy a greedy rub upon the senses. The guitars fire up a dust bowl of coarse riffs whilst the rhythms flattened the air to resonate deeply. The song is the essences of Mastodon, Crowbar, Kyuss distilled through the unique waspish grooves of Earthship. It is a mighty start easily maintained across the length of the album to leave one breathless and smarting from the intensity and fire brought with every track.

The following Athena and title track twist and stretch the synapses with incendiary melodic weaves and smouldering vocals behind the abrasive tones of Jan, the first a smouldering piece of stoner venom and the second a lashing of sharp riffs and scything sonic craft. The pair show the diversity across not only the first few songs but album as a whole, imagination and thought within the overall doom/sludge presence of the release insatiable and wholly contagious. This is an album and songs you really want to listen to in detail, to delve in fully such the rich rewards continually received.

Every song is an impactful and invigorating welcome bruise, all intent on branding the senses and each the giver of acidic mastery which overwhelms and fulfils equally. Further notable highlights come in the form of the blistering Boundless Void with its more reserved attack just has musically malevolent as the aggressive slabs of sound elsewhere, the quite magnificent Brimstone, and the closing giant of a track, Teal Trail. The first of this latter pair is a shifting corruption which unleashes eager passions for its magnetic weaves and molten waves of melodic lava and erosive energy whilst the final song just stomps with all metal guns blazing and rock n roll intent fuelling its passionate assault. It is a final rampage to relish whilst offering another distinct facet to what is one immensely pleasing release.

Iron Chest is a giant of an album, a titan which enflames the passions whilst wearing down the senses into an eager disciple before its malicious intent. The release sits as one of the best sludge/doom albums this year and Earthship a band equipped to flatten all rivals.

RingMaster 13/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright