Attrition Interview

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?

I started ATTRITION way back in late 1980… I’d been running my punk/post punk fanzine “Alternative Sounds” here in Coventry from ’79 – ’81 and I knew I always needed to make my own music… it began with me and my then girlfriend Julia… added a drummer and my brother on guitar… soon changing to Julia’s brother Ashley on synth and I bought a drum machine…so we quickly turned from a traditional guitar/bass/drums/ vocals line up to a more electronic sound…

Have you been involved in other bands before?

I had always been a visual artist (painter/sculptor at art school) and knew nothing of writing music… so this was my jump in the deep end… see what came out of it… we just experimented with our sound over the first few years in particular…. But still do from time to time…

What inspired the band name?

It came from “War of ATTRITION” … after the first world war…I’d always been fascinated with it as my Grandad was wounded on the Western Front at Ypres in 1917…. And I had always heard about it as I grew up…. in 2015 I finally wrote an album of interpretations of WW1 poems, from all sides….”Millions of The Mouthless Dead” – something I always had to do… I wrote it with Anni Hogan (Marc and the Mambas etc.) and was happy to have a special guest reading in German from Wolfgang Flur on there (ex Kraftwerk)

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the project itself and how you wanted it represent your thoughts and emerging your sounds?

A burning desire to say something…. There was too much going on I really needed that outlet…. I still do

…and that desire still leads the way?

A lot is the same… we can never recover our naivety and things have obviously got more professional over time…. And maybe I’m not the angry young man I was in 1980…but yeah… not so very different J

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

I’ve always used technology a lot…it’s my instrument…I never learned a traditional one… and that has evolved massively over time… and that has made a difference to the sound. I’ve also taken on more musical influences… dance, classical etc… and have met so many amazing musicians over the years that have come on-board… added their talents… moved on…. It’s been an evolving project… which is how I like it..

Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more you deliberately wanting to try new things?

A mix of both… I never know what I will come out with when I start a track…and I like to see where the twists and turns lead me… there are no real rules…. But I have written soundtrack scores so that is a different approach from the outset… and in instrumentation there have been times I wanted to try working with someone new.. .for example when I introduced real violin and viola and cellos on some songs… the old samples hardly got used again…. I think that experiment worked pretty well

Presumably across your years being involved in music there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

Well ATTRITION is mostly me… but I take on influences from people I have worked with…and that is often as much an approach as it is the style… I love learning…. If I ever thought I wasn’t doing that any more then it would be time to stop..

Is there a process to the songwriting which generally guides the birth of songs?

In all of my work… regardless of the final piece or style… I start with abstract atmospherics… electronics usually… and gradually rhythms and melodies emerge… alongside the words if there are to be any…. Much like order from chaos…. I believe in that

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

From my personal life… philosophical and religious thought… political ideas… “sex, death and religion” as some would say..

Would you give us some background to your latest release?

The new single, ‘The Great Derailer’ , has just been released (on CD, download and streaming) and will be part of the forthcoming album, ‘The Black Maria’…much of my lyrical work is inspired by my subconscious thought…. And in a simple way “The Great Derailer” is my anarchist God…if you like…. I released it on Brexit day J

Do you go into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or still provide room for them to develop as you record?

Since I put my own studio together in the nineties, The Cage, I work all the time on pieces of music and they gradually develop into an album… (and this is between my mastering and production work for many other bands and labels… so I never get enough time for me!…. but it is my day job so I am always surrounded by music…. And I love that) …but yes in the early days of the eighties we had very limited studio time paid for by the various record labels and we had to have everything pretty much ready to put down for the time we were in there…. Not always a bad thing actually…we learned a lot from that!

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably a favourite aspect of the band?

I do love recording as much as live but yes touring is such an inspiration… I have a varying line up as I work with people all over the world, and I’ve been lucky to have toured on most continents at various points in my career… a wonderful experience… apart from my 2 beautiful kids I would say a highlight of my life…

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How did you find it back in the day and see it now?

Coventry had a great live scene when I started… after the buzz of two Tone but as much for all the other acts… personally my experimental electronics was a bit too much for the local scene back then… so we moved away to London and later I moved to Holland for a while where there a much more receptive scene…. I’ve been back in Coventry for years and I’m pleased to see it really picking up for live music, especially music with more of an edge… I think it’s true everywhere… it’s such a big thing to do making a band work… and it’s hard… but it’s so worth it if you can dedicate yourself to it

How has the internet and social media impacted on the project to date? Do you see it as  a necessary ‘evil’?

The internet in all its forms has been really helpful… having started with the fanzine I was always used to networking myself and the internet is such an opportunity for that…I can’t even imagine how I arranged tours in Europe in the eighties before email…. But maybe the reason I am still here is because I did… It’s never been easy…it never should be.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

…and thank you very much too. As I said, the new album will be out later in the year… and I am currently setting up dates for 2020… So far confirmed…

April 3rd: The Tin, Coventry, UK

June 13th: Woodgothic Festival, Sao Thome Das Letras, Brazil

June 17th – Gothic Ba, Buenos Aires, Argentina

June 19th – Producciones Mortem Collec-tions, Santiago de Chile

June 20th – Tumbas Eternas Producciones, Lima, Perú November

28th: Winter Ghosts Symposium, Whitby, UK

…and do check out our various sites…

http://www.attrition.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/ATTRITIONMUSIC   https://attritionuk.bandcamp.com/   https://www.youtube.com/user/attrition   https://twitter.com/attritionuk   https://open.spotify.com/artist/5yAtVvdaWrTxW4GPC18643   http://www.thecagestudios.co.uk/

Thank you! Martin Bowes. Coventry. England. 2020

Pete RingMaster 27/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

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

Watch Clark – Couch

photo by Christy Wiseman

The sound of Watch Clark is suggested as being akin to the Seattle indie goth/industrial scene of the early 2000’s but definitely there is also an eighties synth pop inspiration which richly flavours its imagination. It is a fusion which goes to make new album, Couch, one ear grabbing and imagination slab of contagion and very easy to recommend to all electronica embracing ears.

Watch Clark is the solo project of Seattle based musician Paul Furio, a former member of Static Engine and SMP. Founded in 2012, Watch Clark released debut album Perfect Imitation the following year with its well-received successor, First Week of Winter unveiled in 2017. Produced, mixed and mastered by Kasson Crooker (Freezepop, Symbion Project, ELYXR), Couch is the striking successor very easy to see pushing Watch Clark into a far bigger spotlight.

A collection of songs themed by a reflection on relationship, political, and life turmoil, Couch immediately had ears and appetite hooked with opener Misery. The blooming of keys and heavy pulse of rhythmic enticement openly wears a Depeche Mode influence but as swiftly the track reveals its own individual character around the magnetic tones of Furio. Industrial dissonance breaks upon the melodic landscape throughout to escalate the potency of drama within the unapologetically catchy and rousing affair.

The outstanding start to the release is matched by the infectious body and swing of the following Class Actress. Like a blend of B Movie romanticism with Kudzu post punk shadows within a Visage-esque croon, the track like its predecessor is pure contagiousness, its instinctive bounce manna to appetite and body before The Sound of Robots Pooping parades its industrial nurtured dance. As dystopian in breath as it is warmly infectious, the predominately instrumental track proved as much a spark for the imagination as an incitement for hips.

Diversity is a potent trait within Couch and potently shows its creative worth with next up Tansfläch, the track an electro industrial incitement bearing the Neue Deutsche Welle tempting of a D.A.F. alongside the cold wave theatre of a Kraftwerk, while The Darkest Place adds its own individual new wave lined proposal in the varied mix with contagious appetite and dexterity. In voice and sound, Furio lights up ears and speaker with a virulent touch which is hard to ignore in movement let alone pleasure.

The following Cross the Chasm has compelling darkness in its heart and touch which only accentuates its bold almost invasive yet haunting quality while The Act of Wanting offers a flirtatious slice of electro rock which again has energies and limbs hooked like a puppeteer across its purposeful stroll. Each again only adds further sides to the varied electronic prism of the album which Math Grenade emulates with its teutonic breath upon industrial dissonance. Again dystopian hues explore thoughts from within the dark infection and once more Watch Clark had attention glued before the equally arousing Get to Win added its particular electro punk grip on ears.

Featuring a vocal duet with Lark Remy in its haunting sigh, Weakness made for easy captivation. Though the sounds around them only hugged satisfaction it was the vocal prowess of Furio and Remy which most seduced and the way the production alternated between moments when each voice has slight dominance in their union.

Completed by the dark infested instrumental of The Cup of Bitter Fate and the melancholy soaked balladry of Choose, two tracks which lingered to haunt the imagination once sharing their final breaths, Couch is an album which provides a rousing fusion of nostalgia and new imagination which as mentioned earlier can only be suggested as a definite exploration for all with a taste for electronic pleasure.

Couch is out now; available @ https://watchclark.bandcamp.com/album/couch

https://www.facebook.com/WatchClarkMusic   https://twitter.com/WatchClarkBand

 Pete RingMaster 15/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Indigo Sixteen – Bring on the Rain

Not having previously come across their previous trio of singles, their new track Bring on the Rain is our long overdue introduction to Indigo Sixteen. It is a compelling jangle of indie/punk devilry from a band looking ready to step into the long line of unique and compelling Scottish propositions of decades past.

Creating a sound which by design or chance embraces the essences of classic bands like Scars and Josef K as well as British outfits like The Libertines and Skellums, Edinburgh hailing Indigo Sixteen emerged in 2013. Leaning on inspirations ranging from Kasabian, The Smiths, and Joy Division to The Jam, Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, and Nirvana, Indigo Sixteen previously released the singles Decide (2014), And What? (2014/15), and Come and Go (2016). Now it is Bring on the Rain ready to stir greater attention the way of the quartet and as it plays in the ears it is hard to imagine it not rousing up a host of new fans.

The vocals of guitarist Stephen Mallin pull the song into view, the equally alluring creative clamour of fellow guitarist Matt McPherson adding its melodic jangle to his and the rhythmic shuffle of drummer Callum Davidson and bassist Andrew Stears. Carrying an energetic and virulent swing to its gait and spirited tenacity to its character and enterprise, the song reveals its punk and indie sides with zeal, merging them into a proposition maybe not yet truly distinct but as gripping and exciting as you could wish for.

Those earlier suggested flavours swiftly come to mind in the song to add to its appeal and a quickly bred anticipation for the next band’s next steps.

Bring on the Rain is out now.

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoSixteen/    https://twitter.com/IndigoSixteen   https://www.instagram.com/indigo_sixteen/

Pete RingMaster 21/11/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Snuttock: An introduction of Rituals

Photograph by Laurie A Smith

Allow us to introduce you to Snuttock, a band from Baltimore in Maryland consisting of Bryan Lee, a classically trained musician, and Christopher Lee Simmonds, the latter also a founding member of Michigan progressive metallers Thought Industry. There the background to the pair and Snuttock ends though the fun and real discovery of the electro outfit is through their music. Some might pin it down as synth pop and certainly that is its breeding but with sonic and emotion cast shadows, a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures, and more twists and curves than a descending slinky, it makes for a proposition which never leaves ears and imagination lost for adventure.

Formed in 2003, Snuttock released debut album Straight Jacket Life two years later. It was the first insight to the pair’s blossoming fusion of industrial rapacity with the instinctive allure of synth pop; a blend shaping Carved and Sutured in 2008 and its collection of new tracks and dance-floor friendly remixes. Where we come in and cast a glimpse into, thanks to Lee and Simmonds themselves, is with the band’s last two releases, Endless Rituals and Rituals Redux. The first is in a way the duo’s proper second album, though it seems to be classed as the third, and was released in 2013. Its successor came out last year and sees a host of artists presenting remixes of its predecessor’s tracks, the album acting like a companion piece to the originals bringing new sides and personas to their already captivating characters.

What Endless Rituals quickly establishes is the diversity across the sound and creative enterprise of Lee and Simmonds; songs ranging from simply synth pop to industrial, dark electro, ambient and much more.  As expectations and assumptions of what comes next arise they are quickly shot down and left floundering as song by song the release persistently presents a new facet to its swiftly captivating presence. For all its twists and new sides though, there is a coherency to it all which links it all as something truly individual to Snuttock.

From opener Attention, intrigue is an eager response, the opening shadows of the track rich in suggestion and invitation before the track breaks into a vibrant stroll. That vibrancy is soon a flood across hungrily catchy endeavour, grabbing body and ears with zeal and infectious energy. There is a feel of early Mute Records bands to the song, The Normal coming to mind most and the laying down of the first compelling moment in the album’s landscape.

The dark wave scented, robotically natured Single Cell Antenna is the first twist in the emprise of sound within the album, its dance dexterity and pop glow managing to also cast a dystopian shadow over the affair. New turns flow through ears from thereon in, the emotional reflection and melancholic sharing of the Depeche Mode like People Too, the reserved but open funk of We Learn with its BEF air, and the dark ambience of Nameless straight away expanding the broad terrains honed by Snuttock. The last of the three is like a flight across cosmopolitan lands, its instrumental blossoming in adventure and suggestion with something akin to a merger of Kraftwerk, Thomas Dolby, and pre-split Human League.

It is fair to say that every track within Endless Rituals stirs the senses; the outstanding and dark, almost predacious presence of Crawl invading the psyche with a prowess reminding of UK band Defeat giving one particular favourite moment though with its thought romancing, dark atmospherics One Day and Spitting Into The Wind with its Blancmange meets Artery like emotive theatre leave their magnetic mark. Even throwing a handful plus of references to give a hint of the songs on offer, the uniqueness of Snuttock is the driving force and continues to captivate across remaining tracks like the haunting post rock/electro ambience of Ghost and the irresistible electro punk popper Advice.

Endless Rituals is a treat, even more so if you can get the deluxe edition with an additional four tracks, which newcomers to Snuttock should make their entry point though Rituals Redux certainly makes for a potent invitation too. Even after years of taking them on board, we have yet to get our personal heads around the appeal and maybe even purpose of remixes especially when the originals are so impressive and dominate. We can equally understand their popularity and in turn demand for others though, even more so after listening to Rituals Redux. Whether it was because we heard it first and numerous times before Endless Rituals, the album like a film or TV show hinting at the majesty of a source book, or simply the quality of the tracks on offer, the mix of all maybe, it certainly awoke an appetite for the Snuttock enterprise and a fun in imagining their originals.

First the only ‘negative’ with the album and that is its radio show skits and bumpers. Whether they are taken from a real show or are simply cast to suggest that surrounding they do niggle personal tastes, especially when coming back to back. It is a minor thing of course and certainly once the music descends and remixes from the likes of Psy’Aviah, Marsheaux, [:SITD:], TweakerRay, and Sebastian Komor, is forgotten as feet quickly leap and the spirit jumps opening track and a sparkling take on Advice by Leæther Strip. Each track takes the core essence and heart of the original songs and casts them in a fresh landscape of imagination or shadow of dark suggestiveness. Major highlights for personal tastes include Sebastian Komor’s fizzy take on We Learn and indeed Marsheaux’s warmly seductive version, The Metroland Protocol’s hypnotic twist on Single Cell Antennae, the noir lit take of the same song by The Rorschach Garden, and Psy’Aviah’s haunting at times senses stalking remix of Spitting Into The Wind.

As we said though, and maybe surprisingly, considering its 2 CD, eighteen track length, Rituals Redux hits the perfect  spot with artists such as [:SITD:], Amarta Project, Statik SeKt, Retrogramme, Red This Ever, TweakerRay, Guilt Trip, L’Avenir, Diskodiktator, and Deutsche Bank Machine equally lighting ears and enjoyment with provocative interpretation and craft.

So that is Snuttock, a band which if synth pop and broad electronic adventure is your appetite should make for a highly pleasing new exploration.

Check them out more @ http://www.snuttock.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Snuttock/  and their music @ http://www.snuttock.com/store.html

Pete RingMaster 31/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

SΔCRED ΔPE – Self Titled

We are among many claiming Sligo based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer John Bassett as one of the most inspiring and refreshingly imaginative composers/songwriters around today and the first album from his new project gives no reason to pull back on that acclaim. SΔCRED ΔPE is Bassett’s, the founder and driving force of KingBathmat and post/progressive metal solo project Arcade Messiah, exploration into electronic/synthwave bred adventures. It is a bold new avenue to pursue for artist and listener but a continuation of the kaleidoscopic sound and visually stimulating artistry within his eager imagination.

As poppy as it is progressive, as emotive as it is instinctively infectious, the SΔCRED ΔPE album needs little time to infest an eager intrigue for something new from its creator; as instantly exciting the senses and involving thoughts and more physical involvement. In many ways, it is his most accessible offering yet though attracting and gripping attention and pleasure has never seemed to be something needing a great deal of time across any of his releases to date. It has a freedom suggesting Bassett is embracing his own electronic loves seemingly with an eighties breeding; playing with inspiring sounds and textures with zeal but weaving them into pieces suggestively complex and intimate and, especially in the album’s pair of instrumental soundscapes, cinematically pregnant though all tracks have just as potent passages.

The album opens with its first instrumental, Horn and swiftly has ears and appetite entangled with its electronic coaxing equipped with virulent melodic hooks. Intrigue coats every note and their emerging collaboration, sonic shadows dancing with melodies and repetitious seduction like an aural cousin to the imagery at the start of the old British TV show Tales of the Unexpected. Spatial yet sinisterly terrestrial, bright but with an almost cold war like drama, the track is a virulent transfixing of ears and imagination and just irresistible.

Asleep At The Wheel (Part 1) follows, contrasting its predecessors light frenetic gait with a heavier almost prowling slow stroll. There is a weight to its air and emotion, a thoughtful pondering soon emulated in the vocals of Bassett. Again melodies escaping synths rise to a celestial atmosphere yet laden with those ever present shadows to temper the climate before Birds Fall From The Sky pulsates with sonic palpitations. From within the animated lightshow a glorious darkwave scented groan, for want of a better word, erupts and swaggers into the passions. With surrounding melodic revelry and an overall creative drama at play in sound and lyrical word, there is a touch of OMD to the song; a flavouring adding to a familiar Bassett design yet as ever one of singularly fresh enterprise.

As a tangy melody steers in next up I Want To Go Back To The Happy House, a Blancmange like lure teases ears continuing to attract as the song broadens its landscape and voice with more of a Kraftwerk meets Giorgio Moroder inspiration. The instrumental floats across and surrounds ears like a summer haze with electronic imagery indistinctly but evocatively flirting from within; easily sweeping the listener up in its flight if without quite igniting the same lustful reactions as those before it.

Through the reflective embrace and dark pulsations of Season Of The Damned and the compelling theatre of Walking On Ice, Bassett has enjoyment and manipulation of the imagination in the palms of his hands; both tracks individual slices of ethereal synth pop with an earthier heart and spine to their explorations with the first a warm hug of temptation. Its outstanding successor though, brings the darker suggestion of the first into a more tangible touch on ears and thoughts creating a John Carpenter like cinematic espionage of suggestion creeping upon and infesting the senses as melodic infection gathers. It is a catchiness which soon leads the way but never diminishes the darker threat alongside resulting in the kind of mouth-watering blend Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) was so skilled at weaving.

The album concludes with the lullaby-esque Asleep At The Wheel (Part 2), an epilogue of melancholy fuelled, melody woven inference with a childlike clockwork skeleton. It is a sigh of emotion which bursts into greater weight and drama midway and again simply captivates from its first to last breath.

It is too easy to expect big things from John Bassett because of past experiences with his music and it is an instinct sure to continue with SΔCRED ΔPE adding another impressive and seriously enjoyable string to his creative bow. It is an aspect in his creativity we fiercely hope he continues to explore and we are certain in that wish we will not be alone.

The SΔCRED ΔPE album is out now and available @ https://sacredape.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.johnbassettmusic.com   https://www.facebook.com/arcademessiah/

Pete RingMaster 02/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Inwolves – Involves

inwolves-front_RingMasterReview

In music the imagination needs feeding as much as ears and that is certainly what Involves masterfully achieves. The new album from the dark cinematic invention of Inwolves, the release takes the listener on a host of individual journeys and sonically eventful adventures which, whilst carrying their own suggestive dramas, sparks the mind to create its own imagined exploits in tandem. It is one of the most fascinating and provocative collections of aural experiences and sonic explorations for thoughts and emotions to immerse in, and in turn one of the most beguiling listens in a long time.

The project consists of Karen Willems, previously a drummer for a.o. Yuko who has also worked with Dirk Serries on Cycle and the Zita Swoon Group among several side projects, alongside Jürgen De Blonde and Ward Dupan. Their sound draws on the inspiration of seventies “kosmische musik” as it ventures into explorations of electronic and spatial soundscapes drawn from the predominant palette of drums, guitars, and synths textures. To be honest listening to Involves shows that any attempted hint to their music is persistently redundant as each track comes, infests, and seduces the imagination with its own uniqueness. To put it simply, the band creates expansive tapestries of sound and styles which certainly our interpretations can only attempt to provide a clue to.

Involves opens with I Va Va Vimedoom, an initially shadow wrapped persuasion swiftly engaging ears and thoughts with its melancholic synth cast entrance. There is a childlike innocence to the single melody courting the darker hues, though it soon, as the senses, enveloped by the portentous electronic smog that rolls in like stormy invasive clouds. Peace becomes tempestuous, emerging finally again to stand as that lonely initial charm within an absence of everything which shaped its birth.

It is a magnetic thought provoking start, though further contemplation is put on hold as Minimal steps forward next to bewitch and seduce. From its post punk scented electronic opening, exotic melodies and rhythms jostle for attention; eventually sharing ears as a south west Asia flavoured tempting wraps the senses and imagination. Closing eyes and allowing thoughts to wander brings a personal flight across Abyssinian and Mesopotamian landscapes but one surrounded by lurking dangers and encroaching dark times which in turn leads to thoughts to the destruction of ancient sites by modern terrorism.

The track is irresistible, as too is the following sinisterly toned Vladimir. The track is again an imagination nurturing episode on the album’s creative narrative. It easily incites mental and emotional involvement as its popping beats become entangled in a dark web of sonic and suggestive intrigue which blossoms around them. There is a kinetic virulence to the rhythmic shuffle also gripping attention before the track suddenly turns on its head and swims with synths into a dark bluesy and increasingly intensive devouring of the senses. There is a sixties hue to its controlled yet intimidating new tempestuousness, Procol Harum coming to mind initially as streams of orchestral and gothic flames rise up to evoke further persuasion upon the listener.

Strange Waltz provides exactly what its name implies; its opening muggy sonic climate eventually descending into clarity and a slow and flirtatious but again sinister three step shuffle as darkly romantic as it is emotionally apocalyptic, and ridiculously compelling. Maybe not the intention but the instrumental plays like a death dance within the imagination, suggesting and enthralling before the cosmopolitan business of Intown takes the listener down a whole different highway. Krautrock and slimline but pungent industrial essences converge on ears, the analogue embraced romancing of the recording, as across the album, memory provoking as too the bordering on obsessively rhythmic prowess which invites thoughts of bands like Kraftwerk and Neu! to the hypnotic endeavour.

Involves is completed by firstly, the invasively dark and increasingly distressed and psychotic Dirty Monks, a track unleashing a maelstrom of tortured voices and souls within its cathedral spawned ravenously shadowed depths. Its suffocating majesty subsequently makes way for the closing suggestive alchemy of Be Kind. The track is a cosmically spiced venture with Devo-esque tones to its electronics and Landscape like mystique to its discord and melody woven spatial drama. It is also another enslaving attention as it leads ears into a revolving flight of intimate and broad aural stimulation, every turn fresh from the previous with vocals an extra stirring spicing to the array of captivating textures.

It is hard to accurately describe Involves or its individual temptations but fair to say each will feel a unique experience for every singular exploration into a band which specialises in creating, to borrow the last words of their press release, “a world of endless possibilities.”

Involves is out now via Consouling Sounds and @ http://inwolves.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/Inwolves-266399616750821

Pete RingMaster 30/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Meter Bridge – It Was Nothing

Meter Bridge _RingMaster Review

It Was Nothing is the new single from Canadian duo Meter Bridge and a song which again shows the ability of the band to create a sound seeded in eighties synth pop but equally revelling in the genre’s modern invention. It is a quality which was already in evidence and acclaimed in the band’s debut album Slow Motion, from which It Was Nothing is taken, but it never does any harm to remind especially with virulent infestation of ears like this.

Meter Bridge single cover_RingMaster ReviewMeter Bridge is the pairing of Richard Kleef and Jill Beaulieu, a Nelson based duo which came together in 2011 and quickly began picking up a keen following. 2014 saw the release of their self-titled debut EP with Slow Motion coming a year later, both stirring up potent attention on the international electronica scene. The twining of their vocals within rich electronic caresses alone had ears enticed whilst the melodic simmers and livelier eruptions explored only added to the inviting drama of sound in especially the latter release, as now epitomised by It Was Nothing.

References to bands such as Kraftwerk and Ladytron are seemingly a regular comparison to the band, and understandable as the single strolls in with dour yet smiling bass pulses aligned with a flowery breeze of melodic tempting. The contrasting yet potent pairing of Kleef’s dark tones and Beaulieu’s warmer vocal caresses makes for quick magnetism, they enhanced further by a spice of variety which also tempts from within the music as a touch of Landscape smoulders alongside a Human League like air which bridges the two eras of the Sheffield band. Throw in a splatter of Thomas Dolby and Hot Chip and you get a scent of the rich enticement of It Was Nothing.

The single comes with a remix by Rodney Cromwell; a version which in many ways gives It Was Nothing a new side to its character rather than just a makeover. It opens with an Altered Images like electro shimmer which soon takes on a more Visage like nature musically and a Calling All Astronauts sounding adventure to the leaner vocal mix and rawer textures. Though not a big fan of remixes, the track certainly held the ears and appetite as firmly as its source and helps give a new nudge to those still unaware of the band’s synth pop adventure.

It Was Nothing is available now as a name your price download @ https://meterbridgeweatnurecords.bandcamp.com

http://www.meterbridge.ca/   https://www.facebook.com/meterbridgeband

http://twitter.com/meter_bridge

Pete RingMaster 05/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Gazing into the fresh glow of The Cathode Ray with Jeremy Thoms

The Cathode Ray_RingMaster Review

Photo and copyright Peter Tainsh

2015 has provided many treats this year and definitely amongst them was the latest and second album Infinite Variety from Scottish indie band The Cathode Ray. It was an encounter embracing the nostalgia of the eighties through fresh and inventive escapades bred of the now. One of the band’s founders is Jeremy Thoms, he also the man behind the great indie label Stereogram Recordings, and someone who to describe as busy is a big understatement. Nevertheless, Jeremy kindly gave us a chunk of his time to talk about the album, The Cathode Ray itself from top to bottom and more, including an insight to his own musical loves…

Hi Jeremy and many thanks for giving us your time to talk with us.

Ever late to the party, we discovered The Cathode Ray through your new album Infinite Variety which came out a couple of months or so ago to, it is fair to say, swift acclaim. In a music world where it seems increasingly harder to actually get people to part with money or indeed offer full attention to things, did you have any particular expectations or hopes for its unveiling or is it more anything is a bonus for bands right now?

We didn’t have any expectations other than hoping that those who had liked the first album would stay with us for the second. We knew we’d made a good follow up album but, as you say, in an environment when it’s very hard to engage with people, nothing is guaranteed.

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Originally the band was just you and Paul Haig, famed for Josef-K and his own solo career. The press release for the album suggests this was not originally intended to be a serious band project but a writing collaboration. Was that the case and what brought Paul’s involvement to an end?

Paul definitely just saw it as a writing collaboration – “a bit of fun” was one his quotes – with group recordings just being made to illustrate them. However, the reaction to them was so positive, one thing lead to another and I pushed for it to become a band and take it more seriously, which Paul wasn’t happy with so eventually he left. What confused matters in the press and public eye was that Neil, David and I were his backing band when he did a solo tour in 2008. However the emphasis then was completely on his solo work, and he had no intention of being a member of a band again after Josef K, which in the end we had to respect.

The double ‘A’ sided single What’s It All About? /Mind was released in 2006; I believe this was meant as a one off release?

Not initially but it ended up like that. Certainly with Paul participating. When we made the agreement with Pronoia Records in 2006, the album had been recorded with Paul’s full participation, but by the time we got around to discussing getting it released he had changed his mind. So he asked us to remove his lead vocals, which we did, although some of his guitar and backing vocals do remain on the first album.

At what point did that spark the appetite to push things further; as a full band and with more releases?

The point that changed everything was bumping into Steve Fraser at a TV21 album launch in 2009. I told him what had happened and he was keen to get involved. The minute we started talking music I knew he was the man. We didn’t even bother with an audition. I knew the songs were strong enough to survive without Paul’s involvement. That opened so many doors, being able to play live (which Paul would never have done as The Cathode Ray) and generally move things on after quite a difficult start.

Were some of you all already old friends and maybe previously worked together before uniting for The Cathode Ray we know today?

Neil Baldwin and I have known each other for 34 years (!) and have played in bands together intermittently since 1986. David Mack and I had been working together since 2000 so, yes, there was a certain chemistry. Steve was the “new boy” although we’d all known him on the Edinburgh scene previously.

I have to admit for once, and not intentionally, I read about the band and its background before hearing a note for a review, and to be honest once seeing a list of previous projects for members of The Cathode Ray2_RingMaster Reviewthe band which had been indelible pleasures in my personal soundtrack, subsequently luring a revisit to old favourites records after finishing the review too, there was an increased anticipation and eagerness to explore the band and album. Do you think having your musical histories has helped draw awareness to the band or not?

Well obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of that, but I do believe, hopefully without sounding conceited, that The Cathode Ray is more than the sum of its parts. But initially I guess it did help getting people interested through our various previous involvements.

There were whiffs of all some of your previous bands at times across the songs and often nostalgia blessed air of Infinite Variety, The Bluebells and Scars maybe most notably in our ears. You are a band unafraid to draw on previous adventures and spices to hone new and fresh exploits, as potently shown on the album?

The songs that I write aren’t consciously drawing on any of our past exploits, but I guess where you’ve come from does influence where you’re going. In any case, it’s probably coincidental, as Steve only toured with The Scars as a depping bassist so wasn’t involved in their creative process, while Neil only contributed to arrangements with The Bluebells. But inevitably, as we all come from that post-punk background, some of the sounds and styles of these bands are going to rub off.

How would you say The Cathode Ray has evolved over time and specifically between Infinite Variety and its predecessor, your self-titled debut album?

I would say the vague initial brief of merging post-punk Manchester with New York has simply broadened to the point where I regard ourselves now as a band that isn’t easy to pin down musically. Our original press release mentioned 60’s Garage, Soundtracks and Northern soul, to which one critic added Psychedelia, Glam-Rock, Euro-Disco, Krautrock and 90’s Alternative Pop when reviewing Infinite Variety. So it is definitely evolving. I’m currently demoing material for the next album and there’s even more interesting musical areas I’d like to explore. It’s good to surprise people.

TCR cover_RingMaster ReviewGive us some insight into the thoughts and intentions going into the writing and recording of Infinite Variety? Do you build a release on particular aims or ideas or predominantly let things organically evolve?

Things do tend to evolve organically. If you put too much pre-conceived thought into it, the music loses its spontaneity. Although I suppose one particular aim is not to repeat ourselves. Each album needs to be a significant progression from the previous one, so a certain degree of thought does go into that. Also, apart from melodies and lyrics, I’m always interested in rhythms and try to be as adventurous and varied as possible in that area too.

We described the album as a “kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure”, a fair hint we think at the array of flavours and inventive spices fuelling and shaping the songs within Infinite Variety. In the hands of many bands it might be an incoherent mix, but you manage to seamlessly blend all spices and individual characters of songs perfectly. Where do you and the band start when composing songs?

Well I compose the songs and demo them first with the key riffs, chord progressions, lyrics etc. all in place. At that stage they often do sound fairly disparate. I then present them to the band in the rehearsal room and that’s when it starts to sound like The Cathode Ray. Steve, Neil and Dave all contribute parts and arrangements until we arrive at the finished article. Some songs like The Eyes Are The Window took a long time to come together and changed quite considerably from my original demo. Others end up fairly similar to the original template, but all manage to sound cohesive owing to the fact it’s the four of us playing them, I guess.

The album’s tracks manage to be rich and at times expansive in texture and flavour yet also ‘slim’, i.e. no excess baggage or indulgence. They manage to be an open evolution from your first album but also reveal a bolder leap in aural colour and character; how do you hear their relevance to older propositions as one of their creators?

Well obviously it’s difficult to be completely objective about something you’ve created yourself, but I see their place in relation to the first album as a natural progression. The leap in colour and texture which you describe is simply a way of moving the band forward, without cluttering things up unnecessarily. You use the word ‘slim’ and I suppose that comes in at the production stage – cutting off any excess fat!

How long in the making from first note to paper or thought through to last note laid down was the album?

The boundaries are always blurred as we always tend to have songs left over which were either written too late to make the cut or simply didn’t fit at the time. For example, This Force Of Nature had its origins as a completely different song dating way back to 2006. It had never sounded right so was left on the shelf. I went back to it in 2014 writing new lyrics and melodies and it quickly came together then. Eureka Moment and Buck the Trend were written in 2009 when Steve first joined. But the bulk of I.V. was written and recorded between 2012 and 2014 – around two and half years.

Our review stated spices of bands from around the eighties as rewarding aspects but over time sixties/seventies tones have emerged. I sense your own inspirations and musical loves go far back?

Oh yes – my musical tastes stretch way back! How long have you got? Songwriters have always been key to me. From Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Webb and Bacharach & David, through Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Scott Walker, Al Green, Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Robert Wyatt and Neil Young to Costello, Paddy MacAloon and Rufus Wainwright, the song is always key. Then there’s the bands I love – The Stones, The Velvets, The Doors, Faces, Roxy, Yes, Kraftwerk, Television, Talking Heads, Buzzcocks, Chic, Wire, Magazine, Pretenders, Joy Division, Dexys, Scritti Politti; Cocteaus, Talk Talk, Teenage Fanclub, High Llamas, Flaming Lips… the list goes on.

There is no mistaking that Scottish bands and rock ‘n’ roll of all styles and design bred there, has something unique to it, and we could go on a long list of examples. Can you define what it is in ‘the

Photo by Jez Curnow

Photo by Jez Curnow

water’ which helps breed such distinctive and so often inspirational bands from that part of the UK, as ones yourselves?

I think there’s an open-mindedness up here. Maybe Scottish bands tend to draw from a wider pool of influences than other parts of the UK. Or maybe it’s to do with being distanced from what’s happening down south – even in the age of the internet. It’s certainly true that scenes of their own do seem to crop up here around labels like Postcard, Fast, 53rd & 3rd, Creeping Bent and, possibly, our label Stereogram too, which has attracted similar kindred literate spirits. Either that or we all seem to be obsessed with the Velvet Underground!

What comes next for The Cathode Ray?

Firstly, we’ve got two more live shows coming up this year as part of The Stereogram Revue in Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus a new track called It Takes One To Know One on a compilation album. Then there’s a new video shot earlier this year at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh by Jez Curnow to go with Saving Grace, our other featured track on the comp. After that we’ll be knuckling down to working on the follow up to Infinite Variety. I’ve got five or six new songs written and demoed, plus a couple of leftovers, so we’ll be getting on with them. Expect some new directions.

Your releases come out on Stereogram Recordings, your own label which seems to have out grown and blossomed far more than its original intent I believe. Can you tell us a little about it and what is ahead for the label too?

It has indeed outgrown its original intent which was simply to facilitate a release for the first Cathode Ray album, plus any other projects (The Fabulous Artisans) or archive material I had kicking about. But over the last couple of years it has been growing steadily with first Roy Moller signing up, followed by James King & The Lonewolves, Milton Star, St. Christopher Medal, Lola in Slacks and, Band Of Holy Joy. The critical and public response has been great which is hugely encouraging. As previously mentioned, we’re rounding off the year with two Revue shows which will feature the entire roster in some form or other (minus Milton Star who don’t have a live set up at present). These gigs will be accompanied by The Sound of Stereogram, a budget compilation in the spirit of New Wave in ‘77 or Pillows and Prayers in ’82, featuring both new and old tracks from all eight acts on the label. Next year promises some new signings plus new material from the existing acts.

My big thanks to you again for chatting with us; have you anything you would like to add?

Nothing to add except thanks very much for your support over the last year.

Lastly and looking at band’s influences on your Facebook profile, a list of bands littering my own record collection I have to say, can you indulge me and give us a few of the bands/records which inspired you to get into music and then as a musician push yourself further?

Well I’ve already mentioned a whole bunch of artists who’ve inspired me, so here’s some records that have been key: “With The Beatles”; “Motown Chartbusters Vol.3”; “Pet Sounds”; “Piper at The Gates of Dawn”; “Forever Changes”; “Loaded”; “Scott 4”; “What’s Going On”; “Exile On Main Street”; “Never A Dull Moment”; “Close To The Edge”; “Aladdin Sane”; ”Houses Of The Holy”; “Quadrophenia”; “Rock Bottom”; “Country Life”; “Zuma”; “Songs In The Key Of Life”; “Trans Europe Express”; “Marquee Moon”; “My Aim Is True”; “Never Mind The Bollocks”; “Risque”; “All Mod Cons”; “Love Bites”; “Fear Of Music”; “Closer”; “The Correct Use Of Soap”; “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever”; “Rattlesnakes”; “Steve McQueen”; “Don’t Stand Me Down”. Again the list goes on…

Read our review of Infinite Variety @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/the-cathode-ray-infinite-variety/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Phal:Angst – Black Country

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A raw erosion of senses and psyche, Black Country the new album from Austrian noise sculptors Phal:Angst is a vociferously compelling provocation built upon soundscapes which suggest that the apocalypse is already upon us. Consisting of five intrusive and fierce sonic explorations themed by oppressive manipulation and bigotry, the release is a demanding and uncomfortable proposition to listen to but a welcomingly incendiary confrontation for imagination and emotions to embrace. Forging a caustic industrial, post rock and doom clad fusion of noise, the release is a haunting immersion into ravenous sounds and stark atmospheres from a provocateur bred from the same corrosive intent as a Swans or Nurse With Wound.

Phal:Angst emerged in 2006 as collaboration between the projects Phal and Projekt Angst. The years since then has seen two well-received albums, a soundtrack, and hosts of successful shows unleashed, all adding up to ensure there was certain anticipation for their third album Black Country. Recorded with Alexandr Vatagin and mastered by Patrick Pulsinger, the album is an invasive and riveting consumption which draws on thick essences of EBM and gothic rock alongside those elements of sound mentioned. It makes for an unpredictable and often voraciously abrasive encounter but one which leaves thoughts and emotions aflame and contemplating the incitement unleashed.

Hardwire is the first examination of the senses, a fifteen minute portrait of a world in turmoil and emotionally twisted. From a glorious opening female vocal caress soon wrapped in similarly elegant keys, the track slips into a heavy industrial climate. Beats and electronic designs aligned to war inspired samples emerge within the still warm melodic embrace of the song, the encroaching portentous invasion of the beauty slow and unrelenting as guitars begin their rawer sonic narrative. The track continues to smoulder between melodic grace and caustic hostility whilst melancholic breezes wash the climate of the song and the band’s vocals upon their subsequent appearance. It is a gripping track, a corruption of sound which smothers the beauty within itself in order to provoke and spark ears and thoughts.

The album’s title track is next where again a warm and gentle entrance is made. This time electronic seduction coaxes the senses though around them sonic shadows are swiftly brewing up their intent and menace. They are held at bay though as a funereal rhythmic strides court the radiant and haunted shimmer of synths and guitar. Monotone fuelled vocals add their colour to the emerging song next, though again it is a slow expansion prowled by other continually darkening tones. The repetitious nature within this and all tracks is an inescapable seducing which only adds to the persuasion if not always the accessibility of the song’s temptation. This and its successor The Old Has To Die and the New Must Not Be Born reminds of Young Gods across their maudlin soaked landscapes, the album’s third song especially sparking thoughts of the Swiss band as opening hoarse vocals and intimidating riffs sets the tone and character of the blackened suffocation of the senses to come. Again that repetitive essence and the return of those breath-taking female soaring vocals provide a rich temper to the bestial heart of the track.

It is an enthralling and bewitchingly unpredictable trespass of the emotions providing the album with its pinnacle though that is almost matched by the warped sonic flirtation of Black Milk of Morning. A track which takes its time worming under the skin, despite persistently offering slim and potent melodies across chilled rhythmic scenery soaked in abrasing sonic ambience, it almost sneaks up on the passions especially with the persistence of unpolished reiterative vocals which imprint their presence and pressure within the climactic sonic smog. There is a beauty to the open and merciless aural causticity of the song which will certainly not be for all but as the album, will provide a remarkably rewarding experience for many more.

Black Country closes with the industrial drama and dystopian presence of Theta, a track which feels like an infestation bred from the union of Kraftwerk, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Neurosis. It crawls across the senses, leaving doom bred bait in its wake whilst igniting the imagination with its creative smothering and fiery tenacity. The song is a fine end to a great album, one which at times you wonder what specifically you are enjoying about it but always by the end of its persuasion only want more.

Black Country is available digitally, on double vinyl and CD via Bloodshed 666 Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/black-country-revisited/id932871714

The album is followed on Nov 28th by digital remix album Black Country Revisited featuring remixes by: Tronstoner/NSA, Swallow Red Rain, Chra, David Pfister, Electric Indigo, Rokko Anal, and Adaevarath/Bastard Sun.

http://www.facebook.com/phalangst

RingMaster 14/11/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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