Steve Von Till – As The Crow Flies


    As The Crow Flies is a release which pushes all complications and unnecessary wrappings aside to unveil and inspire a core of emotive poetry and introspective inducement. It is a haunting meditative soundtrack to reflection, self and worldly; a record of dark beauty and an impacting seductive evocation from Steve Von Till, the Neurosis vocalist/guitarist, which leaves thoughts and emotions bare.

The album has its re-release via Neurot Recordings, the independent label founded by members of Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot and run day to day by Von Till and staff, which has grown into a fully-fledged label bringing releases from the likes of Ufomammut, Isis, Shrinebuilder, Neurosis, Across Tundras, US Christmas, Ides of Gemini, Oxbow, A Storm of Light, Amenra and many more to the world. As The Crow Flies was released right at the start of the labels emergence but has been out of print for many years. Its re-release thirteen years after the original indelible mark was made feeds a smouldering hunger which has laid waiting in those of us who missed it first time around.

As song after mesmeric song plays its heart and tale upon the ear, acoustic guitar and the gravelly low key whispering of Von Till part crooning and part serenading the imagination, the album visually emerged in the mind as a long lone fence within a melancholic sultry landscape of emotions, each song a post to lean upon as the cage stretches into the horizon and each drawing, inciting a reflective union with the suggestive atmosphere and smouldering ambience placed around thoughts. The surrounding breath and scenery is a shadow crafted intrigue beneath flaming hypnotic skies and upon a canvas of vividly coloured weaves employing everything from sadness and sorrow to hope and resignation. It is a scintillating and enthralling walk through its soundscape with the sounds musically and vocally bred for the fullest engagement.

The album opens with its most potent and captivating presence. Stained Glass offers up a deep resonating caress of the ear soon joined by the throaty sirenesque haunt of the cello, the pairing alongside the slightly grizzled tones of Von Till, a thought crafting blend of chiselled and organic beauty, the dark and light textures within an overall darkened spell leaving no room for escape as the song opens up with its emotive wash of provocative temptation for the mind and passions. As across most of the album, the simplicity is as riveting as it is impossibly addictive, its employment of repetition and singular chords resonating with one persistent voice like an emotive narcotic for nothing less than deep willing slavery to its powerful almost sinister charm.

The following We All Fall walks through darker fields, its residue of sombre elegance drifting across the ear with childlike folk seeded simplicity, its closing vocal temperance almost nursery rhyme like with a dark breath and intent. It is a riveting experience as powerful and enriching as its predecessor and is soon matched by the likes of Remember, a song with a breeze soaked in chant and pulsating glistening from the sun but equally leaving a teasing of impending cacophonies which are never realised but add wonderful cloud to the emotion exploration, and the exceptional Twice Born, another harvest of sublime melancholia enhanced by the blue touch and beauty of the cello and sky bound harmonies between Von Till and the golden tones of Kris Force from Amber Asylum, her celestial siren wrapped tones an irresistible fascination beside the restrained yet compelling tones of her companion.

Midheaven is a drone seeded meditative cloud which ensnares the senses with its single chord repetition occasionally joined by another singularly crafted stroke of discord touched melodic taunt. It is a starkly haunting piece from an equally barren landscape emotionally and visually, the journey coming near its end with a brooding intensity lifting its resentful head as final track Shadows in Stone approaches. Like earlier song Warning Of A Storm, the closing track crafts a sinister embrace which permeates every sense and thought whilst bringing all the elements which flamed throughout the album, that morose delicious cello cry, seductive caresses from the voice of Force, and the consciousness provoking guitar invention and inciting vocals of Von Till, into play. Once a rhythmic resonance and enticement of drums and percussion opens up the song further the sunset of imposing majestic radiance leaves the passions simply enflamed.

     As The Crow Flies is a wonderful album which gets better and better as well as more evocative with each venture into its heated sweltering depths and well worth its return for us stupid enough to have missed it the first time around.


RingMaster 13/05/2013

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Raedon Kong: Self Titled EP


    Raedon Kong is a pair of musicians who on the evidence of their self-titled EP, strives to create apocalyptic sonic soundscapes which work on the listener on as many levels as there are rich dramatic layers within the incendiary expanses. Their latest release gnaws on the senses whilst challenging and eroding emotions but all the while unleashes sounds and an impacting imagination which is impossible not to be impressed by. The release is drenched in excellent corrosive discord but also creates melodic flames which though as acidic as the sonic storm around them is destructive, rewards with an enterprise which is deeply satisfying and inspiring.

The Lafayette, Louisiana duo of Stephen Sheppert (guitars/synth/vocals) and David Leonard (drums/vocals), former members of Collapsar, Hooves, and Icepick Revival, going by the EP experiment with styles, sounds, and influences to create their own tempests of noise, passion, and intensity. The likes of Zeni Geva, Neurosis, Mastodon, Isis, and King Crimson have been mentioned as suggested comparisons but Raedon Kong holds its own singular presence within such flavours. The EP creates a bruising and enveloping furnace of psychedelic and progressive sounds which are toweringly heavy, melodically burning, and driven by a doom metal gait. Lyrically and musically it is also stark and brooding, an apocalyptical landscape as jolting atmospherically as it is sonically turbulent.

The release opens with Heavy Lite, a track which emerges from a deeply resonating and intrusive pungent grasp of noise to ALBUM ARTWORKunleash a maelstrom of bedlamic invention and energy. The song at this early point is an avalanche of tumbling rhythms, incisive melodic flames, and an ever twisting surge of ideas which are defined yet manically unleashed. Soon the listener finds themselves within the eye of the storm as the track nestles within a shimmering heat and slow soft vocals wash gently upon the ambience. It is short lived though as thumping predatory drums stalk the now ignited air and riffs plunder the instilled warmth with malice and searing craft. It is an immense track and start, basically an instrumental and a piece which has thoughts and emotions, let alone senses riled up and unreservedly intrigued.

End Of Days walks into place next with inviting guitar caresses under sonic flames which glow above their beauty. It is an inviting start which explodes into a muscular hunger and intensity to further captivate if equally intimidate. The track has a definite Killing Joke feel to it in places with the vocals reminiscent of Jaz Coleman, and the longer it wraps its sinews around the ear the more compelling and potent it becomes. It ends as it began with a mild wind upon the ear to bookend the wonderful havoc between, and emerges by its end as a track which is hard to shake off emotionally and physically.

As potent in rich diversity as it is in intensive confrontation, the release offers a squall of progressive imagination next within Forgotten Son, a psychedelic flamed piece which enchants and brands the listener from start to finish. Across its protrusive journey the track scars and slices through the senses, its acerbic melodic invention and sabre sharp guitar slashes as damaging and invigorating as the rugged energy. Like each song and the release as a whole, the track reveals more with each burdensome engagement but the rewards leave the extended effort undeniably worthwhile, not that listening to Raedon Kong or their release is a trial in any sense of the word.

Closing with the masterful Ash Is The Omen, a song as delicate as morning dew and as fearsome as an avalanche, the EP from Raedon Kong is an impactful treat for all lovers of extreme, inventively embolden, and imaginatively creative music. The release is like a four headed hydra, each mazard an inciting antagonism for which only a full welcome is offered.


RingMaster 16/02/2013

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