Black Space Riders – Refugeeum

Black Space Riders official 2015_RingMaster Review

With their previous album D:REI, it is fair to say that German space rockers Black Space Riders not only set a new benchmark for themselves but ignited a whole new host of appetites and acclaiming attention. Now the Muenster sextet return with its successor Refugeeum; an intensive and expansive exploration which may or may not quite surpass its exceptional predecessor, but is an equal as it reinforces the band’s stature as one of the most fascinating and gripping propositions in heavy rock.

This time around the band has dropped from spatial explorations and focused on earthbound issues and tempestuous times. Musically the band has found an earthier and more organically trespassing, as well as more intimate, depth and invention to their ever diverse, flavour embracing sound. Certainly there are moments which soar and take flight through rich and broad landscapes but always they lead to the turbulence and raw canvas of emotional and physical migrancy, to simplify the album’s theme. There is also a new and open maturity to the songwriting and its realisation in Refugeeum, a quality taking the already recognised and rewarding potency in all aspects of band and sound that had already powerfully blossomed within D:REI, to new pastures.

A spatial shimmer grows around ears initially as album opener Vortex Sun starts things off, its distant twinkle soon joined by a lone melody and vocal harmonies. Everything has a shadowy glaze to it but equally a magnetism which within seconds draws ears and imagination right into the brewing soundscape of the song. Once the drums begin rolling with increasing resonance and hunger, the track is on the lip of a thickly atmospheric and energetically contagious proposal, guitars casting a cascade of sonic enterprise around nagging riffs whilst the vocals add further descriptive drama and texture. The threat of a full explosion of sound and turbulence is constantly there but never really realised, the song moving through constantly shifting rock scenery with exotic mystique and sultry Eastern whispers a regular and inventive lining.

Frontcover Refugeeum Vinyl _RingMaster Review   The track is a glorious start to the album and swiftly matched by Universal Bloodlines, who wins its persuasive argument from the opening bait of throaty riffs and crispy beats alone. They come with an irresistible hook, one which only persists as the band develops and slips into a Life of Agony like emotive croon within rousing rhythmic and dirtily aggressive temptation. It is a fiery and intimidating fusion and ridiculously irresistible, even when the sonic craft of the guitarists SLI and JE add searing sonic flames to the raw alchemy.

Born a Lion (Homeless) comes next, opening with its own compelling coaxing. The scuzzy tone of bass from SAQ is a thick menacing hook all on its own whilst just as quickly, fuzzy guitars and slithers of keys align with its enthralling call to accentuate and colour the tribal call of the song. The vocals are shared around the album by Seb and JE, and here offer maybe their most rapacious and fiercely captivating delivery yet. The song itself continues to grow into a brute of a proposition, a treat lying somewhere between Killing Joke, Rammstein, and David Bowie.

There is a post punk edge to the following The Lure (Come with us), especially in its opening stalking of ears. Four songs in and each has provided the most individual and passion enslaving openings, entrances backed by ever evolving and twisting adventures, and here the fourth song goes on to explore a filth toned embrace of snarling vocals, evocative guitar caresses, and one hypnotically tenacious doomy prowl.

A mellower lure escapes Run to the Plains next, gentle vocal persuasion luring in attention as a darker groan of bass from SAQ or HEVO, who also features upon Refugeeum, courts its invitation. It is a tempting increasing as both vocalists unite with their unique and complementary tones. There is a touch of post rock to the track and a Palms like alternative rock smoulder to the stoner-esque ripeness colouring the mesmeric encounter. At over ten minutes the track is a maelstrom in waiting too, expelling thick tendrils of intensity and heavy grooves as well as tempestuous riffs across its constantly resonating sonic glow.

The pair of Curtains of Death, another with a start which just seems to know how to flick the switch of lust, and Melek’s Lament (Yazidi Tears) just seduce and engross with constant imagination. The outstanding first of the two follows up its tasty start with a spiral of tangy grooves, feisty riffs, and grouchy vocals, all honed into an intimidating and again wonderfully fuzzy yet boisterous shuffle before drifting off into reflective and haunting, almost cavernous exploration. It is a riot for the ears and feast for the imagination whilst its successor is a mist of worldly whispers, flirtatious textures, and emotional intensity, and in a completely different way just as fascinating and infectious, especially as it brews up its own seventies rock tinged roar of a climax which in turn descends into a sonic escape.

Such his skilled rhythmic jungle of beats and resourcefulness C.RIP has an easy time winning these ears over from start to finish within Refugeeum, and again ensures Walking Shades has its hooks into the psyche straight away with another almost meditatively inviting dance of beats. Subsequent melodies and vocals pursue another Life of Agony like toning in their catchy and provocative body, it all colluding for one tantalising offering before Ritual of Inner Strength brings the album to an epic close. The track in many ways is like a musical epilogue to Refugeeum, all the richest and most potent elements creating the hearts of the album’s songs converging together in a gentle but intensifying tempest. It is creative theatre, one igniting thoughts and emotions as strongly as its infectious lures grip the body, and though it does not take personal emotions quite to the heights sparked by other songs, its impacting croon is a fine end to a mighty release.

The band’s previous album had great ruggedness to it which has been rounded off for Refugeeum but in its place the band has honed a more intricate blend of slimmer tempests, thicker explorations, and a perpetual unpredictable invention. The album is Black Space Riders’ boldest and farthest reaching creative offering yet and after many more listens whilst composing this, decidedly their most thrilling exploit yet.

Refugeeum is available now digitally, on Cd, and on double vinyl (2x180G, incl. CD & lyric-insert) @ https://blackspaceriders.bandcamp.com/album/refugeeum

https://www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders

http://www.blackspaceriders.com/

RingMaster 24/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

We-Are-Z – Walkaway

pic by@AndyWillsher

pic by@AndyWillsher

The song might be about “taking a journey into the recesses of consciousness, exploring perceptions and angles that don’t add up”, but musically Walkaway is just one inescapable funk ‘n’ roll devilment of indie pop come new wave virulence. The song is the new single from We-Are-Z, a UK band which on the evidence of their new release, springs a sound on the senses as agitated and warped as it is infectiously magnetic. It incites body and imagination with tribal like rhythms amidst paranoia kissed sound, each racked with St. Vitus dance like activity within theatrical melodies and mellow washed vocals. The track is pure temptation, like Shriekback meets Late Cambrian in a Two Door Cinema Club embrace, yet different again.

The London based Anglo/French quintet formed in 2012, with its line-up already seasoned musicians bringing experiences of playing with the likes of Beyonce, The Waterboys, and James Morrison into the mix. Debut track Airbrush swiftly drew strong attention and support from media and fans alike, whilst the band since then has lured in diverse comparisons from Vampire Weekend to Devo and Franz Ferdinand to XTC. Inspirations are equally varied within We-Are-Z, the likes of David Bowie, Serge Gainsborough, Talking Heads, Blur, The Clash, and Static cited but as their new single shows, the band ultimately emerges with something yes a little familiar but perfectly peculiar to them.

Walkaway from its first touch is a rampant shuffle of jabbing beats and a dark flirty bass lure from Guillaume Charreau and Marc Arciero respectively. The guitar of Drew Wynen adds a lively temptation to the attention grabbing start also, little but gripping hooks and slithers of melodic spices a flirtatious tempting adding to the instant magnetism. Seductive and quirky keys are colouring the song further next, Clement Leguidcoq bringing a smouldering coaxing seeping around and within all the other tenacious textures at play whilst vocalist Gabriel Cazes has a drama and flirty quality to his insatiably vibrant tones and harmonies. There is no escaping the enslaving effect of the song, the puppeteer like lure of rhythms on limbs and the addictive contagion of everything else on voice and emotions, a proper feel good treat.

According to reliable sources, with an energetic and irrepressible live presence to match the adventure of their new single alone, it is easy to suggest we will all be hearing and devouring a lot more of We-Are-Z from hereon in.

Walkaway is available via Sputnik Records from May 18th

http://we-are-z.com/   https://www.facebook.com/WeAreZmusic

RingMaster 17/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

The Strangler Figs – Attack Of The Strangler Figs

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Having been seduced by the decidedly warped drama and infectiousness of their recent single Attack Of The Strangler Figs, there was no option than to next look at the EP of the same name . The result of talent and imagination in collision with creative mischief, the offering is the thrilling work of UK art rockers The Strangler Figs. It contains three songs which seduce ears and thoughts alike, a trio of carnivalesque adventures creating the kind of warm devilry which would suit a Tim Burton soundtrack.

The folkish theatre, almost circus like character to the band’s music has its seeds in the psychedelic rock and visual feast of Circus Maure, which band founders, vocalist/guitarist Joe Pickering and double bassist Joel Hanson were previously a part of, touring the likes of Europe, Israel, and Canada, where it headlined the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal for seven nights in a row. Their time there also saw the pair writing together, before leaving and uniting to form Leicester based The Strangler Figs. Weaving in inspirations from the likes of The Doors, Radiohead, Muse, and David Bowie into their evolving invention, the band swiftly lit up the local live scene, their first year together marked by headlining Oxjam and playing the biggest festivals in Leicester. EP and single has helped begin the spread of their presence and reputation much further afield, awakening media and fan attention on a broader scale and as the EP opener alone plays with ears and thoughts, it is easy to see why.

10419942_1592620724306431_4813869709891100291_n   The title track opens up the festivities, a lone reflective guitar around the individual voice of Pickering the first intriguing act of the song. They are immediately joined by a warm caress of keys cast by Freddie Pickering and slow evocative beats from James Lyons. With most of its elements in place and the narrative bringing theatrical colour, the song lifts up its knees and starts a lively stroll through ears and across the imagination. A little jazzy, a little funky, and a lot seductive, especially with the backing vocal lures of Rosie May Price adding to the inviting hues, the song unveils an agitated adventure of sound and ideation. Thoughts of The Jazz Butcher whisper loudly from this point on, and indeed The Strangler Figs sound definitely has a potent elements of the eighties artist to its playful resourcefulness. The song is in full contagious mode in no time, inciting feet and voice to join its devilish merriment.

The great start continues with Help me Please, the song also starting with a gentle kiss on the senses but reaching a more vivacious gait within a few more seconds. The tempting of organ and guitar, both provided by both Pickering brothers, unite in a simmering aural tale of drama and shadow wrapped emotions, this matched by his voice and the dark feel of the narrative. With mini crescendos which just grip the body, the song ebbs and flows in energy whilst stirring up the passions with its unpredictable darkly hued majesty; though do not mistake the song for anything other than a vibrant stroll of folk pop revelry. Think Tankus The Henge meets Mojo Fury and you get an idea of its excellence in sound and enterprise.

The EP closes with Hugga Wugga, an immediate seduction of noir lit textures and theatre led by the excellent throaty lures of Hanson’s double bass. Keys and beats soon align for an exotic shuffle whilst guitar and voice bring a snarl to the party, tempered by the siren-esque backing vocal smooches of Rosie May Price. Once more as the song flirts and swerves around within its jazzy landscape, an eighties essence licks ears. Whereas The Jazz Butcher raised its hints before, and does a little here also, Zanti Misfitz springs up in thoughts as the track ignites the imagination. Just light whispers but enough to give a nudge of the lesser known band.

The song is glorious, as is the EP. There is no wondering why the band has caught the attention and eagerness around their home city, just of how far the band can spread their charm and how soon. A long way and swiftly is our suggestion sparked by Attack Of The Strangler Figs alone.

The Attack Of The Strangler Figs EP and single is available now at most online stores.

http://www.stranglerfigs.com   https://www.facebook.com/thestranglerfigs

Upcoming live shows…

Orange Tree, Leicester – April 30th

O2 Academy, Birmingham – May 1st

Riverside Festival – Leicester – June 6th

RingMaster 25/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

David Bronson – Questions

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Emotionally intimate and exploratory, with a just as expressive melodic climate, the new album from New York City singer songwriter/producer David Bronson is a warm and resourceful landscape of thought and sparkling enterprise. Consisting of songs which as its title, seems to stem from Questions Bronson has asked of himself and his life, the album is a striking and immersive caress on ears and imagination. It is not an encounter which always consistently lights personal appetites to the same strength as its finest moments, but one emerging as a lingering and thoroughly enjoyable proposition easy to recommend to those with a want of soulful and melody drenched creativity.

The successor to his acclaimed 2013 debut album The Long Lost Story, ‘a decade-in-the-making, 22-song autobiographical double album’ split into two separate releases, Questions sees Bronson looking at his life and the world right now, and drawing on the likes of vocalist Robin Clark (Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Al Green, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, David Bowie), guitarist Carlos Alomar (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney, John Lennon), guitarist Robbie “Seahag” Mangano, drummer Lautaro Burgos, and Gordon Grody to inventively colour these investigations. Whereas the first release expressed a more indie rock seeded sound around his seventies inspired songwriting, the new album embraces new adventurous flavours such as soul, folk, and gospel in its new proposals, a spicing helping the Godfrey Diamond (Lou Reed)/Bronson produced Questions become a captivating and intriguingly varied encounter.

From the opening Songbird, Bronson and album has ears and attention awake, its acoustic caress of guitar the canvas for some delicious harmonies and the lyrical prowess and insight of Bronson. Immediately there is a Paul Simon like air to the heart of the song but also plenty to make it radiate a fresh and original presence. Vibrant beats only add catchy texture to the gentle swing of the song but it is the gospel bred harmonies which steal the impressive show.

Both Move Like Water and Day By Day glide through personal balladry with Bronson and guitar again offering a sure and warm entrance to which melodies and sultry climates, not david bronson questions cover lgeforgetting a great throaty bassline in the first of the two, immerse senses and thoughts evocatively. Each pleases with their individual charms but it is with Push that another surge of greed hits ears and personal appetite. The fourth track is an instant drama with keys straight away looming and laying down a single prod before taking a pause, returning a few seconds later with the same Boomtown Rats like potency as they align to the alluring strum of the guitar. It is a mesmeric track, voice and music sketching an easily accessible and emotively connecting narrative in a dance of creative and vivacious enterprise.

The following Task is another stirring and inescapable invitation for feet and emotions to fully engage in, its sway of funk fuelled revelry a swift and fascinating infectiousness with melodic resourcefulness to match. It and its predecessor provide the pinnacle of the album, the thrilling peak to which other songs aspire but with varying success cannot quite emulate. Despite that the likes of the Lennon-esque All These Things and the smouldering dark folk theatre of Life Is long provide thoroughly enjoyable and lingering temptations whilst the melodic rock fuelled My Good Friend with its compelling seventies psyche rock keys, add another strain of bright adventure and full pleasure to album and emotions respectively.

The closing pair of Connect The Dots and Passing Fiction slip into more reserved hugs of melodic and harmonic endeavour which, without finding the same persuasive spark as their immediate predecessors, ignite ears and thoughts with consummate ease. The guitar adventure of the pair is an especially thrilling and magnetic coaxing, the twinges of discord which bless the imagination of strings and fingers as enthralling as anything on the album.

Questions is a definite investigation for certainly fans of the likes of Paul Simon and John Lennon but equally those of current talent like Seth Lakeman and Thom Bowden. The album did not quite ignite enough fire in emotions across its length but really only due to personal tastes and with some quite thrilling tracks and invention involved it is easy to assume it will spark a blaze in a great many.

Questions is available from 19th January via Big Arc

www.davidbronsonmusic.com

RingMaster 19/01/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.thereputationlabel.today

The Art of Amputation – Distorted Pop Song/ Californian English

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Listening to Distorted Pop Song, one half of the new AA-sided single from UK progressive rock band The Art of Amputation, is like being wrapped up in a warm duvet against a squalling wind. It is a thick haze of melodic and sonic enterprise which gives you a fuzzy feeling in the senses warding off shadows and at times reality. Aligned to the more tenacious and incendiary Californian English, song and single is a captivating offering from the London quintet, not a startling one but an encounter which though an instant enjoyment takes its time truly seducing the emotions.

Formed when Hugh Fox (drums, programming, percussion) and Allan Harrod (vocals, guitar, keyboards) linked up as a duo after the break-up of a previous band, The Art of Amputation soon Picture 172became a trio as the pair began writing and recording their debut EP. Realising they needed another guitarist to realise their explorations inspired by the likes of Weezer, Pixies, The Beatles, and David Bowie, they recruited Mark Hyden (guitars, vocals). Next Freddy de Lord (keyboards, vocals, saxophone) was enlisted with subsequently their acclaimed self-titled EP unveiled in April this year. With a line-up now completed by Tim Harrod (vocals, percussion), the band unveil their new single, a release which as mentioned does not take the listener by the scruff of the neck but as it smoulders vibrantly, leads them into a sultrily twisted seduction which in turn recruits a keen appetite.

Distorted Pop Song emerges from a distant horizon, keys and sonic endeavour light smog which spreads as the song nears and mellow vocals glides resourcefully across the senses. In full view the song becomes a rich and thick tapestry of emotive vocal hues and evocative melodic colour immersing a heavier rhythmic and shadowed enticement. It ebbs and flows with bulging waves of sound and enterprising textures to toy with the imagination whilst its blustery climate and provocative embrace comes superbly lit by voice, keys, and exotic flames of sax.

Its companion Californian English has a more indie rock essence to its breath and presence, thoughts of Editors coming to the fore as the song opens up a persuasion of jangling guitars and flowing keys around a great varied vocal enticement. Again there is a rich and dense atmosphere to the song, psychedelic breezes colluding with jazz and rock intrigue for an enthralling weave of sound. With slightly more bite to its presence, the song is the peak of the pair but both tracks of the single standout and raise a hunger to know and hear more from the band.

Alongside the darkly enchanting EP, The Art of Amputation’s feistier new single reinforces their impressive emergence whilst showing further adventure and character to their songwriting and sound. The single is not the spark to a fire in passion’s belly but definitely a richly satisfying stoking of their embers from one of the more exciting prospects within the British scene.

Distorted Pop Song/ Californian English is available digitally now via Ruby Music @ http://www.rubymusic.ie/

https://www.facebook.com/TheArtOfAmputation

RingMaster 17/11/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://audioburger247.webs.com/

 

 

Machinista – Xenoglossy

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Having set a striking standard with their Arizona Lights EP barely five months ago, Swedish electro/synth pop band Machinista not only confirm the potency and potential of their sound with debut album Xenoglossy, but expand it with an even more rigorously captivating and enterprisingly inventive persuasion. Consisting of eleven tracks which are as boldly fresh and bred of a modern creative climate as they are seeded in an eighties nostalgia, the album is an irresistible blaze of electronic pop, quite simply persistent bait for body, imagination, and emotions to romp and bask in.

Machinista is the creation of Malmö/Kalmar based pair, vocalist/lyricist John Lindqwister (Cat Rapes Dog,Departementet, Basswood Dollies) and musician Richard Flow (ex.Vision Talk, Haze For Sale). Starting the project in the December of 2012 alongside their other bands, the duo instantly gripped attention and keen responses with a cover of David Bowie´s Heroes, which now closes up the new album. Its success and that of their first self-penned release, the single Molecules And Carbon, both accompanied equally appreciated videos, led to an eager spotlight soaking the band not only from fans but media too. Last year the band signed with the Juggernaut Music Group with the Arizona Lights EP their first release this past March. Recently and really before the dust of fervour around the EP could settle, Xenoglossy was uncaged to as mentioned not only reinforce their opening presence but cast a whole new mesmeric spell on the synth pop scene.

From the opening almost warning prod of first track Take Comfort In Being Sad ears and attention are wide awake breeding a just as immediate appetite. Punchy beats thump their coaxing next before keys relax into a melodic sway coveraround those persistently provocative textures. The equally as tantalising voice of Lindqwister is soon caresses the senses too around that jabbing rhythmic punctuation, the mix of forceful tempting and seductive soothing an enthrallingly magnetic proposition. As the song bounces along thoughts of The Cure, certainly vocally and in the shadowed essences which lurk within the bright sounds, and of A-ha musically make their suggestions. It is a masterful start swiftly matched by Arizona Lights. The second song casts a hazy yet crystalline ambience before eager beats and similarly feisty electronic grooves wrap around ears. As with the first track, and the majority of the album, there is a familiarity to the encounter but a recognisable spicing which only enhances the fun and potency of the offerings. Here a Thomas Dolby/Paul Haig like air makes hints as the song unveils its sparkling revelry.

Its lively presence and heart is followed by an initially more reserved and shadowed suasion through Molecules And Carbon, its first breath holding a melancholic spice before opening up into its own vivacious if still slightly reined in dance. Again it is hard to resist adding comparisons to Robert Smith and co, but it is only an appealing hue in the flowing imagination of Machinista. Though not as striking as its predecessors, the song satisfies a by now greed ridden appetite for the release before letting its outstanding successor, Salvation intrigue and seduce the passions. Sporting the irresistible charm and vibrancy of Landscape and poetic melodies of Zero-Eq, the track soars in elegance and beauty, keys and vocals a glowing smouldering climate to immerse in.

An industrial unpredictability and dark air brings the next up Summersault in to view, the track a stirring protagonist with military bred rhythms and an imposing atmosphere of stark and binding incitement. There is also the most vivid cinematic aspect to the song. Each track has that ability to work with the imagination visually it is fair to say but none as voraciously and enthrallingly as here. With drama clad keys and the ever impressing vocals, the song leaves thoughts reminded of Associates and in an evocative grasp before the equally thrilling Pushing The Angels Astray steps forward to sweep body and emotions to their feet for a perfect slice of synth pop. Melodies and hooks blaze away with harmonic resonance whilst rhythms steer the whole thing into the instinctive eagerness of feet and passions. It is the chorus where you lose self-control though, its contagion as toxic as a sunset and just as colourfully entrancing.

Ensuring that pinnacle is not a lone voice in what are nothing but peaks across Xenoglossy, next track Wasted sways and stomps with tenacious enterprise and pop infused vivacity. Featuring guest vocals from Toril Lindqvist of Alice in Videoland, the track is like a flaming collusion between OMD, Blancmange, and MiXE1, and ridiculously addictive. Maybe not quite as gripping but certainly a flavoursome and resourceful coaxing is Love And Hate Song. It has the unenviable task of following the two previous triumphs and does so with a unfussy and minimalistic march covered in a thick and enticing melodic weave which itself is coated in an unpredictable emotive suggestiveness. It is a gentle yet powerful tempting showing another strain of invention and intelligent variation to the album.

The closing stretch of the release is led by the heated emotion and climate of Crash. It is a strong and thought sparking encounter but lacks the spark of earlier tracks even with its Vangelis like flumes of epically honed melodies. It is also left looking pale sandwiched between the last song and slow burning success of The Blues And The Reds. Holding a feel of Pete Wylie to its provocative caress of electronic sound and floating harmonies, the song takes a while to warm up thoughts and emotions but does so to a lingering success.

Xenoglossy is completed by an excellent version of Heroes, and it is easy to see why the track made such a powerful impact with its band introducing release. The Eno/Bowie penned classic is not dramatically changed but given an insertion of electronic teasing and enterprise which brings new inescapable infectiousness to its charm. It finishes off the album in fine and thrilling style. With the fact that despite the praise it is also one of the weaker tracks on the album, it shows the might and impressive adventure across the whole release. Synth pop is an awakening inspiring genre it seems and it is fair to say that Machinista is destined to be one of its leading lights.

Xenoglossy is available now via Juggernaut Music Group @ http://music.juggernautservices.com/album/xenoglossy

http://www.machinistamusic.com/

9/10

RingMaster 08/08/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://audioburger247.webs.com/

 

James Cook – Adventures In Ausland

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There has always been an inescapable magnetism to the creativity and songs of UK singer/songwriter/producer James Cook, and the release of second solo album Adventures In Ausland certainly does not lose any of that imagination sparking prowess. In fact it takes it to new levels with tracks which are bred from even greater maturity and inventive expression in sound and lyrical enterprise. The new release reaps the masterful essences of its predecessor Arts & Sciences, evolving them into richer and more intricate textures and arrangements. The expected pop heart of Cook’s songs is still as infectious as ever but with no disrespect to what came before, it has grown up to offer even more compelling and invigorating explorations of his distinct English chamber rock.

First drawing attention with the band Nemo, which released a trio of well-received albums between 2004 and 2008, Cook has made a bigger impression matched by equally potent acclaim through his solo work. Between Nemo and Arts & Sciences, he also appeared in and wrote songs for numerous Mighty Boosh episodes, collaborated with Imogen Heap, and released the baroque pop album The Dollhouse with violinist/string arranger Anne Marie Kirby, who once again links up with Cook for the new release. The time between his outstanding 2012 solo debut and Adventures In Ausland, saw Reverse Engineering, Vol. One unveiled, a covers release revealing rich inspirations to the life and music of the musician with classic tracks interpreted and regenerated in his own inventive image. It was a thrilling insight into the man as well as simply an exciting encounter but it is his own work which gets the fires flaming brightly as proven again by the new album.

Two years in the making, with songs written in the likes of Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Genova whilst its recordings took place in Vienna, Prague, Berlin and London, Adventures In Ausland (Ausland the German word for abroad or elsewhere) brings in many ways an international breath to its still distinctly English sound. Certainly lyrically the album sizes up the world and its light and dark aspects whilst wrapped in an evolving invention which you feel can only come from the imagination of an Englishman. The release opens with the delicious Bees In November; its opening sigh of strings arranged by Cook and Kirby, an immediately evocative caress. They soon make way for a warm electronic and guitar enticing subsequently followed by a soft blaze of vibrant brass, all infesting ears and imagination with a sultry glow and vivacious temptation. The beats conjured by Tom Marsh add potent bait to the mix but it is the distinct voice of Cook and the continuing masterful call of the strings which steals the passions most forcibly. Both bring emotive intrigue and unpredictability to their invitations, lures sparking excitingly in thoughts and emotions, as well as the captivating body of the pop fuelled song.

The opener is swiftly matched by the following Lilly (A Lover’s Dream), a song which glides resourcefully through ears with melodic elegance and passionate reflection coloured by the mouth-watering weave of strings. There is an a3495452677_2element of The Divine Comedy and The Bluebells to the song, a spicing which flavours the light footed melodic waltz of the song. As mesmeric in charm and sound as it is sultry in ambience, the song is a glorious embrace with an air which transports thoughts into unique scenery as does the next up Financial Tango. There is a Morricone flame to the opening climate of the track, though soon making way for the punchy stride of the song and its thought jabbing narrative. That scorched flame of brass does reoccur across the pungent premise and body of the track frequently, stirring up senses and imagination as potently as the striking enterprise around it.

Both Dog Arms & Dilemmas and Art Deco, keep the flight of the album boldly varied and gripping, the first with its gentle wash of vocals and melodic enterprise soaked in a provocative heat of brass. Vocals layers lie slightly misaligned to each other at times for a pleasing ingenious and addictive tempting whilst the entanglement of strings and brass powerfully ignites air and ears with voracious passion. It is a smouldering treat of a proposition but one admittedly soon left looking a little pale by its successor. The fifth track feels the closest to the last album, its dance of sawing strings and quirky synth adventure within agitated rhythms and another great vocal call from Cook, a bridge between the two albums whilst pushing its smart pop sound to new levels. Broad hints of Thomas Dolby and XTC tease at thoughts as well as essences of David Bowie as the song flirts and seduces the imagination and emotions. It is a riveting and scintillating encounter which leaves an already greedy appetite hungrier.

   Bring Back The Boom offers a keys led stroll with a landscape of brass and lyrical incitement next, its atmospherically musty tone and shadowed premise an enthralling encounter, if lacking the spark of earlier songs slightly. It still leaves album and pleasure high as does the absorbing melancholic presence of The Blackout and the mischievous romp of Jamie with its swipe at misguided dreams and modern pop attitudes. The pair of songs again easily pushes thoughts into action whilst leaving ears basking in weaves of strings, brass, and melodies bred with a grandeur that only pure adult pop can conjure.

The wonderful call of Tideland with Cook at his most vocally potent on the album within a suggestive net of coaxing hooks and emotionally shadowed keys, comes next to bewitch senses and feelings. The rhythmic allurement of Marsh and the commanding strumming of Cook only accentuate the power of the majestic and increasingly towering track but it is the strings and vocals which drives the lingering tapestry of sound and imagination most potently. The impressive lure of the song is continued through closing track Ausland/Outside, a piece of beauty which envelopes and seduces ears with a thrilling maze of strings and vocals. It borders on disorientating at times but only to ignite the encounter and emotions to greater potency.

Adventures In Ausland is a very different album to its predecessor creating an even more striking and masterful proposition of pop fuelled, imagination driven drama. If James Cook is still a secret to be discovered for you, than this release is an introduction which can only lead to lustful pleasure.

Adventures In Ausland is available now @ http://jamescook.bandcamp.com/album/adventures-in-ausland

jamescookmusic.com

9/10

RingMaster 30/07/2014

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