Rational Youth – Cold War Night Life

photo by Marc de Mouy (1982)

This December sees the release of a deluxe expanded edition of Cold War Night Life, the debut album of Canadian synth pop outfit Rational Youth. It is the second time the acclaimed album has had a fresh outing since its original unveiling and with rare memorabilia and photos, new extensive liner notes, and a host of extended remixes and singles related to the original full-length it provides nothing less than rich and thick pleasure.

Formed in 1981 by Tracy Howe and Bill Vorn, the Montreal hailing band was as notable as releasing one of the first all-synth pop albums released in Canada the following year with Cold War Night Life as they simply were for highly flavoursome songs. The following years only saw their music and releases find more success and further afield alongside arrivals and departures in personnel. Even so Rational Youth came to an end in 1986 but twice the band has returned, the first in 1999 seeing third album To the Goddess Electricity released with the 2009 re-uniting of Howe and Vorn leading to the extremely well-received Future Past Tense EP seven years later when Gaenor Howe stood alongside Tracy. It is fair to say though that throughout, Cold War Night Life has continued to be an inspirational moment for new fans and artists so it will be no surprise if its fresh return finds new appetites and plaudits feasting.

Kraftwerk was a major inspiration upon both Howe and Vorn and openly embraced within their early sound though still no more than a rich spicing to their own imagination as revealed across Cold War Night Life. The band’s second gig was supporting Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and it is easy to suggest they too provided a strong influence listening to the album, especially in moments like City Of Night, a track which dances with ears and imagination half way in to the release. Melodic hooks flirt like cousins to those found within the UK duo’s Enola Gay, luring and seducing with inevitable success such their infectious potency highlighting why the track was one of the bands most memorable and successful.

Before it within Cold War Night Life, opener Close To Nature sets the tone and electronic pop landscape, its dark air and alluring shadows draping the instinctive catchiness of the track’s enterprise and heart. The song has a certain Fad Gadget-esque breath to its breath and character which only adds to its swift beguiling of ears before Beware The Fly strolls in with a more Thomas Dolby meets Landscape like personality and infectiousness to match its success.

With both alone proving that good songs can be fresh and current to newcomers no matter when they were written Saturdays in Silesia soon joins the pair in casting synth pop contagion as melodies and nagging rhythmic enticement reign over ears and imagination. The track is pure virulence before drifting off to allow Just A Sound In The Night to share its richly emotive air and drama within a less urgent but just as magnetic pop embrace which lies somewhere between the John Foxx and Midge Ure fronted eras of Ultravox.

The likes of Le Meilleur Des Mondes with its darkly lit almost menacing instrumental and otherworldly laced intimation and the Visage evoking Ring The Bells further reveal the broadening landscape of Rational Youth’s emerging sound, its own fertile enterprise and suggestiveness an easy involving of the imagination while Dancing On The Berlin Wall, a song which only eclipsed its original success around Europe with its re-release as a single when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, breaths cold war drama and sinister intrigue within its infectious theatre.

For all its pop agility and prowess, the album is just as notable and potent in its instrumentals, Power Zone another almost sinisterly too easy to immerse within and have the imagination conjuring with its disquieting air and haunting electronics. We have many favourite moments within the release but this remains one of our big pleasures and soon rivalled by the equally ominous and haunting Coboloid Race. It too is soaked in a dark magnetism while suggesting a DAF like influence and only captivates from start to finish.

With the album offering Cité Phosphore, the French version of City Of Night, a Danse mix of City Of Night, and an extended versions of Saturdays in Silesia and City Of Night, as well as the crystalline radiance of the band’s debut single, I Want To See The Light, the ever thrilling Cold War Night Life only confirms itself as one of synth pop’s finest moments as it delights fans and newcomers to Rational Youth alike.

Cold War Night Life is released December 6th on CD and digitally via https://rationalyouth.bandcamp.com/album/cold-war-night-life-expanded-and-remastered with a vinyl version available to order via Music Vaultz.

https://rational-youth.com/   https://www.facebook.com/RationalYouth   https://twitter.com/tm_howe

Pete RingMaster 05/12/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Ceremony – In The Spirit World Now

 

As Californian outfit Ceremony continue to search out and explore the next evolution in their creative voice, they have sparked one treat of an itch to get under the skin in recent times. In The Spirit World Now is one of those encounters which immediately infests attention and proceeds to haunt it thereon in, ensuring returns to its contagious body are not only inevitable but inescapable.

It seems some people still compare the Rohnert Park quintet’s early voracious hardcore sounds to each new offering as if they have gone off course. Every artist though needs to follow their instincts and hunger to grow, something Ceremony have relished and flourished with for our thoughts. It has not been quite as a dramatic shift as that Ministry undertook and undoubtedly blossomed from but step by step it has been certainly marked and as In The Spirit World Now proves, compelling.

Moving on from but also drawing in some ways from the Joy Division-esque captivation of last album, The L​-​Shaped Man, Ceremony embraces the breath and virulence of eighties post punk and new wave within its successor. Whether by chance, coincidence, or deliberation there is a potent Devo influence to the sound making up its collection of infection loaded tracks, stronger in some than others, yet it only goes to accentuate the band’s own imagination and individuality.

The Relapse Records released, Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive, Turnover) produced album opens up with Turn Away The Bad Thing. An immediate synth draw is quickly joined by the resonating drawl of Justin Davis’ bass. In little time the vocals of Ross Farrar are striding across the wires cast by guitars, the confidence indeed swagger in his tones a magnet into the melodic web of sound growing with potent catchiness. Crystalline shimmers interrupt the boisterous motion to calm the senses but it only adds to the lure of the song especially with the female voiced caresses which glide forward to seduce. All the while emotional tension builds until the track again bursts into creative animation.

It is a strong and pleasing start but for us only a teaser to greater moments starting with the album’s stirring title track. With something of a Modern English meets John Foxx era Ultravox breeze across its spiky but fluid motion, the track has a wealth of hooks and melodic wiring at its disposable courtesy of the imagination of guitarists Andy Nelson and Anthony Anzaldo with synths just as skilfully manipulative before Further I Was reaps the temptation of both for its own body of virulence. One of those moments when that Devo reference is most keen, the song strolls along springing new wave contagion and post punk dynamics, the angular delivery of Farrar matched by the jerkiness of riffs and rhythms with the swinging beats of Jake Casarotti alone a rousing incitement.

Presaging The End prowls ears next though its presence is all invitation, its melodic romance draped in dark shadows and melancholy, the latter carrying a slight Skids like essence while Say Goodbye To Them brings unbridled pop insistence through its gait and dynamics. Even so there is a restraint which only adds to its easy infestation of appetite and imagination; an invasion with the richest rewards as another irresistible moment within the release is uncaged, one swiftly echoed by the punk feral We Can Be Free. Scuzz lined, hook throwing guitars collude with the melodic tease of keys, rhythm egging on their mischief and the movement it is hard not to offer from the outside.

Through the quirk pop stomp of Years Of Love and Never Gonna Die Now with its Devo/Wall Of Voodoo like creative drama and sonic gesticulation, In The Spirit World Now just stepped up another level, the second our firmly favourite track. Song by song, the album took a firmer grip of our greed, simply becoming more captivating as echoed by I Want More. Again in many ways punk instincts drive its holler, vocals, riffs and the great bass nagging especially coated in that irritability but all tempered and bound in the led synths dance.

From Another Age provides a riveting quick footed incitement next, rhythms jabbing as synths and guitars duel with mutual temptation. In the midst Farrar adds his own pugnacious but welcoming agility, it all galvanic persuasion.

The album concludes with the intrigue coated post punk theatre of Calming Water where rhythms almost stalk ears as they provoke feet, wiry hooks and acute melodies further intoxication as the song sends the release away on a high. Not that its absence proves long as In The Spirit World Now is a record which so far is proving impossible to stay away from.

With a few moments of poetic intimacy between some songs, the album has thoughts as animated as body, spirit and pleasure.  For us Ceremony just keeps getting better and more fascinating.

In The Spirit World Now is out now via Relapse Records; available @ https://ceremonyrohnertpark.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ceremony/   https://twitter.com/ceremony   https://www.ceremonyhc.com/

Pete RingMaster 11/09/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Practical Lovers – Agony

 

Practical Lovers_RingMaster Review

Glorious is the only word for Agony, the debut album from UK synth pop duo Practical Lovers. It might be soaked in melancholy, be the outpouring of frustration and torment bred by lost and unrequited love, but the album is simply a majestic tapestry of skilfully cultured shadows and the beauty lying within all emotions.

The band is the union of singer songwriter Jack Wiles and his long-term musical partner Mark Connell. Originally it was intended as a solo project for Wiles with a collection of songs written “in an attempt to vent some of his frustrations with love in the 21st Century.” After introducing the idea and songs to Connell, the pair creatively united and stepped forwards as Practical Lovers, this around late 2010. The band signed with Nottingham based label I’m Not From London Records the following year, releasing a couple of singles over the next three whilst earning a rich reputation for their live performances. Now they unveil their eagerly awaited debut album, a stirring incitement of vintage synths and analogue drum machines bound in nostalgic radiance, heavy and seductive emotions, and compelling enterprise.

artwork_RingMaster Review    Every track within Agony is a love song; the dark side of and fallout from inspired explorations for sure, but all seeded in love. They come with an intimacy which feels like they are echoes of their creator’s heart and experiences and makes it easy to emotionally connect with, whilst each is presented within sounds which are as infectious and hopeful as they are similarly solemn to their lyrical pleas. From the opener band and release has ears and imagination chained, and emotions basking in the pleasure given.

Put It Bluntly tempts ears with a few dark pulses of synths whilst brewing a more feisty lure in the background, that swiftly coming forward and blossoming on the strains of a deliciously grouchy bassline. The inescapable enticement of Wiles’ wonderful dour lined and magnetic tones soon adds another rich texture and hue to the already invasively infectious encounter. That element of nostalgia is often eighties spawned and here on offer is a Paul Haig meets New Order coaxing with a touch of Interpol to it, a mixture only adding to the thrilling virulence of the song.

The following Never Again brings some fiery guitar to ears, the fizzy texture invitingly colluding with poppy synths as Wiles and Connell avail an already greedy appetite of their individual prowess. The fevered stroll does not hang around, offering a bubbly simmer over two minutes of inimitable bait before Inside Job provides another diverse and fiercely captivating string to the bow of Agony. Like The The in league with The Smiths, with Wiles vocally as throughout the album creating a vocal presence somewhere between Morrissey and Ian Curtis, the song is a plaintive serenade, a vibrant croon which whips up ears and emotion within seconds and increasingly involves the listener with every passing second.

A similar hue glows within Full of You next, though the track again reveals a distinct character of its own as synths smoulder and caress with emotive expression. The mix of vocals, presumably from the two artists, adds another riveting texture, though it is Wiles and the Smiths blessed earthy elegance that seals the deal between lustful ears and song, an ardour just as eagerly given to the Joy Division coated Nobody There which follows and straight after that the post punk scented brilliance of The Work Around. Hints of Blancmange and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark emerge from within the outstanding track, and in many ways, having seen OMD live in their first days, there is a definite resemblance between the bands if not exactly in overall sound.

No Reply slips into the dark corners of its emotive heart next, that Joy Division suggestion again an easy offer as the track morosely yet enticingly prowls ears before its big success is eclipsed by the skittish energy and devilry of Restless. Think Fad Gadget meets early The Correspondents with Editors in tow and a clue to its irresistible endeavour is close to the mark whilst for Textbook Romance maybe John Foxx era Ultravox and early Cure is a good hint. To be honest, for all the references sparked, each track is a thrilling proposal unique to Practical Lovers, just enhanced by a great weave of recognisable colours, whilst the second of this pair also unveil its warm party on the senses with a hopefulness arguably not explored as fully elsewhere.

The album closes off with firstly the insatiable contagion of Falling Down and finally the melancholic serenade of Grave of Romance, a song impressing initially and just seducing the passions to greater effect over time. Both also provide another aspect to the multi-faceted sound of Agony, an album which is blossomed from some of the harshest and deepest felt emotions possible but is anything but agony to listen to.

Practical Lovers is one of the finds for our ears of 2015 and Agony one of its most thrilling and invigorating releases.

Agony is released November 27th digitally and on limited edition cassette tape through I’m Not From London Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/agony/id1051440048

https://www.facebook.com/Practicallovers

Pete RingMaster 27/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Cathode Ray – Infinite Variety

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The energy around the arrival of and anticipation for Infinite Variety, the second album from Scottish band The Cathode Ray, ensured that intrigue and enthusiasm of a great many was high going into the release. It is fair to say that the proposition not only lives up to hopes and expectations placed upon it but leaves them lightweight against its kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure. What was not predicted here was the nostalgic impact it had on ears and thoughts, as well as memory, for our first time with the band. Musically it weaves in essences from the seventies and eighties into an invigorating modern tenacity but it was finding out the background to the members which inspired us to first trawl through cases of vinyl on a nostalgia trip to relive old favourites ashamedly neglected over time.

Formed in 2006, The Cathode Ray was initially a song-writing collaboration between Jeremy Thoms and ex-Josef K frontman and solo artist Paul Haig, a band and solo project straight away dug out for a reprise in the ears. A couple of well-received singles followed before Haig left the project in 2009. Taking it over Thom enlisted guitarist Steve Fraser once of Edinburgh post punk band the Scars, another enslaving proposition for our passions way back, and alongside him drummer David Mack and bassist Neil Baldwin to complete a new line-up, the latter bringing another search through boxes to relive the glories of the disgracefully under-rated Bluebells and post-punk group TV21. Once that was out of the system it was full-steam ahead with Infinite Variety, an album swiftly living up and more to anything its creators may have helped craft before.

The album’s landscape uses various decades of sound as its palette, twisting and shaping them into unique and colourful proposals with a lyrical exploration to match. Said to loosely be a concept album, Infinite Variety visually and aurally references the natural world whilst looking at emotions involved with the human condition. The songs are kind of bundled into three areas; ‘fear, paranoia, lust and betrayal’ spicing the first few songs before looks at ‘transformation, honesty and realisation’ and subsequently love in various light and dark forms flavour the tracks. Like in a kaleidoscope though, it all seems to disarrange and evolve with every twist of a track to provide an on-going and increasingly fascinating adventure.

10425081_1014104828616219_3923383927065033299_n   That diversity to songs is one of many potent aspects to the album and it all starts with the outstanding Backed Up. A simple rub of guitar and accompanying cowbell prods make first contact, soon joined by crisp beats and an expanding coaxing of melodic enticing. The expressive tones of Thoms join the widening incitement next, his entrance awakening bolder enterprise in the guitars, whilst riffs and hooks come with a great post-punk spicing. The reserved but lively melodic invention provides a sultry colouring which the dark bass tones wonderfully temper whilst vocally Thom drives it all with a voice which is like a mix of Pete Shelley and Ste McCabe to offer another rich texture within the potent album starter.

It is a strong beginning straight away eclipsed by the outstanding Resist, one of the most addictive slices of warped pop you will come across this year. Its hooks instantly get under the skin and into the psyche, swiftly followed by the vocals and the thick bass bait. The song’s infectiousness is simply virulent bringing a whiff of The Revillos to its power pop stomp, a passing scent not as strong as the Buzzcocks like catchiness which oozes from the following Nowhere At All. Again it is merely a spicing though, this time to a captivating stroll of imaginative percussion, imposing rhythms, and addictive enterprise, all soaked in inescapable contagion.

Don’t Waste Your Words strides in next to bring an addictive lure of hip swinging rock ‘n’ roll. Feet and ears are an early submission, whilst the capture of the imagination is barely a drum stick swing away in the riveting temptation of the song. It is not alone in offering hooks and a presence which are indelible in thoughts and emotions even after the album’s departure, but it is probably the most intoxicating though matched straight away by the excellent Buck The Trend, a song with a healthy breath of Tom Verlaine and Television to it. Keys and guitar spin a gorgeous eighties web for the rhythmic and vocal prowess of the song to pull this way and that, a combination sculpting another major highlight in the album. There are times across Infinite Variety, like here, where thoughts wonder if the band may have missed the boat with their sound in the fact that The Cathode Ray would have surely been a big inspirational player in the eighties. Every time that suggestion raises its head though band and album almost in anticipation provides evidence to differ, like No Holds Barred which comes next, proving that they are definitely a perfect fit for the now. The song is a slower but similarly infectious offering with a held in check energy which still has body and emotions swaying feistily with its low key and thoroughly addictive swagger. Once more riffs and melodies combine to create a fresh twist and distinct romp of sound and invention in the album.

The brilliant Eureka Moment! is simply a montage of eighties goodness crafted into a transfixing and exotic jungle of imagination fuelled rhythms, Scars like sonic sweeps, and Bluebells bred melodies. It feels like a song dipping into its creators past exploits and those of others whilst equally drawing on new ingenuity. The John Foxx led version of Ultravox comes to mind as does The Creatures as the track seduces and incites but again they are just particular hues in an new enthralling and thrilling aural conjuring by the band.

This Force Of Nature brings its flowing melodic breeze next, female vocals seducing alongside the tones of Thoms, whilst Torn Apart explores an immersive and haunting cavern of sonic reflection which in many ways has seeds to the likes of House of Love and My Bloody Valentine. The absorbing and mesmeric encounter, as so many songs, keeps the album turning over in imagination and invention, as well as variety, before making way for the post punk croon of The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul. With a bassline which recalls early Cure and an Orange Juice like jangle to its chords, the song is bewitching and engagingly dramatic like a modern day Associates.

The album is closed by the elegant reflection of Saving Grace, a semi-acoustic ballad which simply whisks ears and thoughts off into hope soaked clouds under a smouldering exotic sun of melodic temptation. The song is spellbinding but also only telling half the story at this point. Around mid-way the calm is suddenly infused with ominous rhythms and sinister keys, nothing over imposing but certainly a brewing provocation which is soon ripe with surf rock tendrils of guitar and a tempestuous air. As if warning that good times still offer a stormy adventure, the track is irresistible manna for ears and imagination with seven minutes of sonic alchemy.

Infinite Variety is quite breath-taking, leaving thoughts basking and appetite hungry for much more. There have been many releases and bands recently creating real triumphs of nostalgia and new invention, but The Cathode Ray tops the lot.

Infinite Variety is available through Stereogram Recordings now on CD and download via http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/audio/infinite-variety-the-cathode-ray-cddl/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay

RingMaster 21/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

Dope Body – Lifer

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In covering Natural History, the previous album from US noise sculptors Dope Body, we boldly declared the band as ‘without doubt one of the most exciting bands in music right now’. Returning with its successor Lifer, the Baltimore quartet has done nothing to change or dispel that declaration. The release is a glorious and voracious maelstrom of invention as now expected from the band, but also one with another open twist in the evolution of Dope Body’s sound. Certainly Lifer is the band’s most rock ‘n’ roll release to date, raw and attractively abrasive, but within tracks and sounds are as dramatically eclectic as ever.

Formed in 2008 for originally just a one off show, Dope Body soon saw and found their sound stirring up the local scene and its passions. Early releases via HOSS Records drew potent attention but it was Natural History, released as the new album through Drag City, which widely announced the band as one of the more original and creatively warped fresh breaths in modern music. Between albums the band has feverishly toured and played shows before seeing the latter part of last year out taking time focussing on other endeavours, bassist John Jones on his solo project Nerftoss and guitarist Zachary Utz and drummer David Jacober with their two piece band Holy Ghost Party, whilst vocalist Andrew Laumann turned to his visual arts side and exhibited work at the Galerie Jeanrochdard in Paris, the Pre Teen Gallery in Mexico City, and Signal in Brooklyn. This year though soon saw the foursome back together in the studio and with producer Travis Harrison creating what is another stirring encounter from them.

The album opens with Intro, an instrumental with carnival-esque vivacity and mischief to the gripping rhythmic juggling of Jacober and scuzz bred tenacity of guitar. It is a great raucous start to the album, instantly unveiling some of the varied rock ‘n’ roll seeded essences to be explored across the release. The piece subsequently slips seamlessly into Repo Man and its opening slow caress and shadowed crawl. Right away the distinct tones of Laumann entice and flirt with ears before raging to match the increased intensity and aggression of the music. It is a captivating track which has as much an air of Nirvana to it as it does The Stooges. In hindsight it is a steady opener to the album in many ways, a raw encounter which as the album, holds a real live feel to its touch and breath, but proves to be just a taster of greater things to come.

That stronger potency grips ears and imagination right away with Hired Gun. From a deliciously acidic web of sonic revelry, the song strides out with a garage punk energy and causticity, though it is still prone to the great scythes of sound liferwhich opened up the encounter. Taunting senses with a devilish swagger and punkish rabidity, the track is a transfixing slice of noise rock, but as expected from the band only part of the story as seductive surf rock sultriness and rhythmic tantalising emerges before a fiery finale. From this song the album really takes unpredictable and diverse shape, the following Echo sauntering through ears with a smouldering blues climate aligned to garage punk turbulence. Like Tom Petty plays The Cramps, the song is an enthralling croon with tendencies to expel caustic ferocity as it makes another step up towards the album’s highest peaks.

They come in the next clutch of songs, starting with AOL. A brawling slab of blazing hard and punk rock incitement, whispers of The Clash and Melvins hinting away, the track comes loaded with lingering grooves and biting hooks for a relatively brief but scintillating roar. It sets ears and emotions up perfectly for the even richer triumph of Rare Air. A song which kind of bridges this and the last album, it emerges from a metronomic coaxing lined with a ridiculously infectious sonic tempting. Instantly there is a post punk emprise to the song, bass and guitars flirting with a mix of Joy Division, Tones On Tails, and John Foxx led Ultravox breeding. It is a gripping adventure with Laumann as vocally enterprising as the tapestry of sounds and textures around him. The pinnacle of the album, the song alone reasserts Dope Body as the imaginative masters of sonic and noise alchemy.

Straight away confirming that point, the dark seductive Day by Day steps forward next. With a heavily shadowed bass resonance spotted by sonic elegance making the first gentle touch, the track forcibly intrigues and entices senses and imagination, increasing its lure and potency as it gathers pace to craft a Bauhaus like tension and presence. That increase in energy also brings a funky gait and appetite to the song, which in turn leads to squalling clouds of scuzz lined ferocity and garage rock devilry. With a pinch of psychobilly and a dab of old school rock ‘n’ roll too, the song takes the listener through scenery of explosive invention and bold creative mischief, all persistently cored by the irresistible throaty bassline which kicked it all off.

Toy strides purposefully across ears next to return the album to another boiling garage punk/grunge soiled stomp, engaging ears in a dusty rampage of Rocket From The Crypt meets Damn Vandals like irreverence. As everywhere though, references only give a slight idea of something uniquely Dope Body, the band forging new templates and imagination smothering ingenuity at every turn, proof of course immediately coming forward through the pair of Nu Sensation and I’d Say to You . The first of the two is another multi-flavoured rocker, seemingly embracing every corner and era of rock ‘n’ roll to give birth to an uncompromising and inescapably addictive rock devilry, whilst its successor is a torrent of repetitive hooks and lingering grooves as catchy as the common cold and sneakily lingering.

The album is closed by the striking Even In the End, a song opening on another skilfully conjured rhythmic contagion before spreading its melodic and atmospheric tendrils into a progressive terrain of bracing sonic invention and immersive dark shadows. Within that landscape though, guitars and beats unleash imaginative and lively agitation whilst vocals range from slow drawls to raging emotion. It is an absorbing exploration bringing the outstanding release to a mighty close.

Lifer is not a step forward in quality for Dope Body but a side step from Natural History into similarly impressive and individual waters. The excitement brought by a Dope Body encounter continues and the band grows in stature once more.

Lifer is available via Drag City now.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DOPE-BODY/310914069790

RingMaster 23/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Sin Cos Tan – Blown Away

Sin Cos Tan by Vilhelm Sjöström

Sin Cos Tan by Vilhelm Sjöström

With a sound as bracing and compelling as the concept story behind its narrative, Blown Away the third album from synth pop band Sin Cos Tan is another tantalising proposition from the Finnish duo. Flourishing from the potent base set by its two critically acclaimed predecessors as well as the band’s ever increasing reputation through live shows and festival appearances, the new release adds another twist to the creative web of intrigue which comes from the exploratory minds behind the project.

Consisting of Villa Nah songwriter/vocalist Juho Paalosmaa and producer/DJ Jori Hulkkonen (Processory) who has also worked with the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Chris Lowe, Jose Gonzalez, and Tiga, Sin Cos Tan follow their 2012 self-titled debut and the following Afterlife a year later, with a different kind of adventure. The album is centred round the concept story of Michael Burana, a middle-aged American man facing a dead-end job and a failed marriage. “To turn his life around, Michael decides to take a trip to Mexico, where he soon discovers a new career opportunity: that of a drug courier between the United States and South America. Blown Away picks up from the sunny beaches of Mexico, and follows Michael’s journey of newfound excess, fast money and hedonism; all the way to the corrupted heart of the Colombian cartels. Forever chasing the elusive ‘American Dream’, Michael’s tale is the soundtrack of a world like no other.” The tale is enveloped in a mix of electro and synth pop with a shoegaze like ambience which caresses the senses with a melodic beauty whilst inciting imagination and feet to embark on their own instinctive exploits. Blown Away is a captivating journey which even with a few less successful moments for personal tastes makes for an unrelentingly enthralling proposition.

The story opens with Divorcee and warm waves lapping upon a balmy atmosphere over enticing melodies. It is not long before the similarly tender coaxing vocals of Paalosmaa, amidst an irresistible web of guitar enterprise and pulsating image002bass breath, adds further simmering heat to the instantly delicious song. It is the perfect pop song, every twist coming with unpredictable yet welcoming ideation and a warmly embracing infectiousness. There is an eighties air to the track too, thoughts of China Crisis and Paul Haig coming to the fore with hints as the opener lights up ears and emotions. Its success is not quite matched but superbly supported by the following pulsating stroll of Love Sees No Colour. With a slightly punchier urgency to its rhythmic intent and pungent electro canvas, the song colours thoughts with a sultry twang of guitar and expressive keys. There is an OMD essence to the song’s elegant melodic croon which in turn is given extra evocative texture and weight by horn like flames and the incessant stride romping through the middle of it all.

A New World brings a danger in its touch, shadows flirting with the draw of the keys and the persistently mellow and inviting vocals. The song is like a drive through a new landscape, fleeting glimpses of emotive hues and potent melodic colouring stalked by an intimidating breath offered by the bass tones stalking the track. It is a treat for the imagination, allowing thoughts to cast their own premise whilst keys and voice take care of ears with poise and temptation. It does not quite live up to the first pair but certainly outshines next up Colombia. The slow provocative nature of the song with growing melodies and inventive keys makes for an expansive investigation of the tale within the album but the singular vocal delivery of Paalosmaa falls short and lacks the spark shown previously and when effects wrap his tones elsewhere in the song. It is too much at odds with the music but nevertheless the song is an engaging encounter, though soon a distant memory through the great dances of Lifestyle and Traffic.

The first of the two is a festival of sonic colour and mouth-watering endeavour, rhythms a magnetic revelry and keys a refreshing breeze. As much as they impress and ignite ears, it is the anthemic blaze of the chorus with Paalosmaa back on compelling form which steals the passions. Like a familiar friend yet entirely new, the chorus is an irresistible lure which makes a masterful temper and compliment to the more reserved but lively sounds around it. The instrumental travelogue of Traffic bubbles from its first note; keys and beats an invigorated provocation within a wind of crystalline scenes and turns, all swiftly passing into new aural sights for ears and thoughts.

The darker tone and presence of Addiction is a thrilling combination of imposing shadows and ominous melodies but with the constantly inviting vocals and more sparkling melodies it all merges for an imposing and engrossing mix. Its successor Cocaine offers the darkest twist of the album, its noir kissed climate of brass and desperation edged vocals aligned to drama bred keys, a disturbed but again enthralling and scintillating provocation for senses and imagination.

The release is completed by firstly the John Foxx like title track, with its emotional chills and haunted air, before the emotionally raw and inflamed presence of Heart Of America brings its epilogue of reality to bear on story and thoughts. Both are gripping turns in the album and as singular incitements, bringing the excellent Blown Away to a tense and fascinating conclusion. Quite simply Sin Cos Tan works on all aspects of the listener with their latest proposition and leaves a lingering and blissfully full appetite in its wake.

Blown Away is available now in CD digipak, gatefold vinyl LP, and download formats via http://solinarecords.com/

http://sincostan.net

8.5/10

RingMaster 18/08/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Villiers – The Dancer

  villiers

    The Dancer is the new single from UK rock band Villiers, a song which embraces sounds of the eighties in modern evocative textures. It is a striking if not startling introduction to the Lancashire trio, one which strengthens its magnetism and fascination over each play whilst parading a rich potential and potent craft which only engages thoughts and an early appetite for the band’s horizons.

Villiers came to be in 2011, taking influences from the likes of New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen into their ideation with lyrical inspirations come from dystopian writers such as J.G Ballard and George Orwell. A trio of EPs, Light the Fuse, Into the Haze, and VLRS have drawn acclaim and attention the way of the band whilst live Villiers has equally enhanced their statue and reputation in support and headlining shows as well as a successful appearance at BeatHerder alongside Clean Bandit, TOY, Temples, Chic ft Nile Rodgers and Groove Armada last year. The Dancer makes the next intriguing step in the ascent of Dan Earnshaw (vocals/bass/synths), Ben Earnshaw (vocals/guitar/synths), and Daniel Buckle (drums/percussion), one sure to draw new fans and voices their way.

Shadows and moody textures wrap around ears from the first breath of the song, their dark caress instantly reminding of John Foxx and in villiers covermany ways OMD. It is a strongly emotive electronic mist which envelops the imagination, sparking emotions as it persists in charming and provoking the senses through the heart of the song. Vocally the band is expressive singularly and with choice harmonies but it is the slowly swirling electronic wash and tender guitar temptation which steals the passions most potently.

The track does not ignite at times as you expect or delve into the darkest melancholic depths as also assumed occasionally, but glides gracefully on an even keel across its poetic landscape. To be honest a twist into one of the more extreme premises would have stirred up a welcome fire but with a wonderful resonance to the rhythms and drama to the track as a whole it is hard to be critical or any more demanding

Also holding essences of Editors and The Cure in its provocative body, The Dancer is another promising and appealing step in the emergence of Villiers, one of many more to come we are sure.

The Dancer is out 16th June on Jack to Phono Records

https://www.facebook.com/VILLIERSBAND

7.5/10

RingMaster 12/06/2014

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