Milton Star – Things Fall Apart

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Like for most a sound to riot too is a treat, music to change or ignite the day essential, but just as potent and thrilling are compositions which invite you immerse deeply into their depths so you can conjure your own emotional and visual experiences. Music to get truly lost in is the forte of UK duo Milton Star as evidenced by their previous two-song offering Salvation/ Storyville. Now the Scottish band returns with new single Things Fall Apart and arguably their most immersive and provocative embrace of sound yet. It is enveloping, it is sultry, and it is powerfully mesmeric; simply the track is a sinister fever of dark country romance to chill the bones and ignite the passions.

Things-Fall-Apart-cover  Milton Star consists of Alan Wyllie and Graeme Currie, two songwriters/musicians whose history together encompasses numerous projects and collaborations going back to the early days of post punk and most notably The Thursdays and Fast Records. The pair also understands the potency of fusing cinematic suggestiveness with atmospheric aural imagination, and indeed as evidenced by their singles how to achieve such fusions. Creating their music in a converted church in Fife which is also Wyllie’s home, Milton Star is the riveting equivalent of Nick Cave, Helldorado, and Mark Lanegan awash with the craft and vision of an Ennio Morricone and David Lynch, but with their own identity.

Straight away their new single has ears and thoughts engrossed, as a deep throaty tone resonates from within guitar, bass, and just the whole ambience of the piece. Things Fall Apart is an immediate seduction, its sombre gait and melancholic air a mesmeric croon on the senses reinforced by the grainy but vibrantly toned vocals. Whereas the band’s previous single had a slight mischievous essence, certainly to one of the songs, which reminded of Tombstone Three, this new proposition has an intimacy and drama which imposes itself on ears and appetite with more solemn intent. Its melodic prowess though brings smouldering warmth too, guitars and keys a haunting, at times almost regal caress inflamed with exotic hues that further enthral and spark the imagination.

The song is pure cinema, and pure aural temptation. Every listen increases its potency too, and from being a powerful successor to its stronger predecessor, Things Fall Apart has grown and evolved into the bands finest most pungent and thrilling incitement yet. Here is hoping an album is on the cards or at least a fuller adventure of an EP next.

Things Fall Apart is available from June 15th via Stereogram Recordings @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/things-fall-apart-single/id991360030

https://www.facebook.com/miltonstar   http://www.miltonstarmusic.net/

RingMaster 15/06/2015

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Milton Star – Salvation/Storyville

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Always partial to music which is as cinematic as it is sonically expressive, and especially keen on dark and sultry aural adventures which embrace emotive shadows as eagerly as they do melodic intrigue, the debut single from Scottish band Milton Star has come as a bit of a treat. Consisting of the songs Salvation and Storyville, the double A-sided encounter is a gothic romance for the ears and imagination. The two tracks cast evocative landscapes of smouldering emotion and heavy atmospheric colour uniting indie and dark country in one enjoyable and darkly feverish encounter.

Milton Star is the duo of Alan Wyllie and Graeme Currie, two songwriters/musicians whose history together goes back to the early days of post punk and across numerous projects, most notably the Thursdays who were signed to Fast Records. Getting back together in 2010 after both had been absent from the music scene for a few years, Wyllie and Currie now in a converted church in Fife, create and record their songs with a sound which have drawn the description, “think Velvet Underground meets vintage Glen Campbell via Rick Rubin collaborating on the next David Lynch movie or sound-tracking the latest HBO crime drama…” It is a hint in the right direction but as Salvation alone shows, there is plenty more within the band’s broad soundscapes and intimate canvases.

The track is a dark croon seemingly bred on a dark folk mix of Nick Cave and Mark Lanegan aligned to the visual drama of Helldorado and a whisper of the raw danger in a Tombstone Three. It Picture 3opens on an instantly gripping stroll of heavy beats which is swiftly joined by the sultry flames of guitar and great dark throated yet melancholically elegant vocals. There is an immediate theatre to the song, especially when voice and guitar add their provocative textures to the portentous heavy bassline and the crisp swings of the drums. The track is glorious and increasingly spicy as the two musicians weave in tangy grooves and emotive melodies which often come in a great ‘yawn’ of sound. With additional fifties rock ‘n’ roll stroking its gothic poetry, the song leaves thoughts lost in a soulful landscape of adventure and ears basking in syrupy sonic goodness.

Its companion Storyville similarly offers an intensive climate of shadows, this time the first breath coming around a grizzled bassline which instantly enslaves attention as the atmospheric lure of the track expands its coaxing. Slightly lighter than its predecessor but no less imposing with its bordering on caliginous emotions and aural colour, the song shimmers and smoulders with raw radiance and evocative expression, it all across that unrelenting bass spine. Not quite matching Salvation but certainly as enthralling and exciting, the song completes an impressive first excursion into the dark climactic majesty of Milton Star’s sound.

The single is sure to spark strong anticipation in a great many for more; future Milton Star adventures which if they are as dramatic and thrilling as this will be devoured greedily and noisily.

Salvation/Storyville is available from 12th January via Stereogram Recordings @ https://stereogramrecordings.bandcamp.com

http://www.miltonstarmusic.net/

RingMaster 12/01/2015

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The Agency – Of Ghosts

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Regaling tales of gothic breeding and devilish intent, Of Ghosts the new album from UK folk/rock band The Agency is one of the most compelling releases you are likely to hear this year. It is not a release which leaps from the speakers, though it has individual moments which are inescapable, but over time casts a captivation which through slow and potent persuasion makes for a captivating proposition. Like a hybrid mix of Nick Cave and a folk version of Southern Death Cult with extra shadowing from Coil, the band’s sound and album is a riveting adventure. It maybe does not ignite the fires as much as it should but never relinquishes an enticing grip on appetite and imagination from start to finish.

Formed in 2012, The Agency started out as a large musical collective before slimming down to a five piece core, though the Newcastle upon Tyne band still invites guests and friends from the beginning to add their flavouring to their sound, Of Ghosts seeing Fraser Smith (Little Man Tate/Shed Seven), pianist Scott Wall (My Exit Music), and Jim Ward contributing to its offerings. Debut album For the Brave and Troubled the band’s first year raised strong attention around the band but it is with this successor that the quintet of Andy Ludbrook (bass), Steven K Driver (singer/songwriter/guitar), Steve Beyer (guitar), Garry Cosgrove (drums), and Kerry Ramsay (vocals) will surely breach a nationwide spotlight.

The album opens with She and instantly has ears and thoughts tied up in the song’s attractive coaxing. Teasing rhythms and a dark flirty bassline entice first before the plain yet alluring vocals of Driver unveil the first narrative of the release. The song slowly sways and embraces senses and imagination, its sultry climax increasing in colour as melodies swim elegantly across ears and the siren-esque harmonies of Ramsay float across the growing sinister scenery. The song is glorious, a sonic and emotional emprise to immerse in whilst an ever present mischief within the band plays.

Next Child So Careless gently shuffles in on a keen rhythmic lure aligned to another melancholic bass temptation and varied guitar revelry. There is no real urgency to the song but it still strolls with an energy and feistiness which brings Picture 73feet to life and has ears rigorously attentive. It is a thrilling encounter with brightly shimmering melodies within a smouldering climate of emotive and dramatic heat, reminding in some ways of fellow city kinsmen Bernaccia. Keeping the impressive start of the album going, the song moves over for the less immediate hugs of ballads For The Daughter and Border Song. Though both take time to seize thoughts compared to their outstanding predecessors, each explore enthralling landscapes of sound and intrigue to place a steady hand on a growing appetite for the release. The first is a warm yet haunting, almost funereal croon with strings an emotionally inspiring hue alongside the dourly expressive vocals whilst the second slips into an even more sobering atmosphere of melancholy and sonic radiance for a less successful but still enjoyable proposition.

The organ fuelled Fast raises the album’s strongest lure again, its thick drama and minimalistic touch a tender and sonically blistering incitement which would fit a Twin Peaks episode perfectly. It is only part of the story though as a funky folk festivity breaks out with melodies and vocals flirting with Wickerman like devilry. The track is engrossing, a pinnacle of the album and a doorway into the darkest corners of the band’s songwriting.

Through the colourful journey musically and lyrically of The Traveller and Sad Parallel which holds a tone and presence which can almost be described as Mark Lanegan meets The Doors, The Agency hold the imagination in the palms of their creative hands. Without lighting obvious fires, the tracks majestically get under the skin with lingering temptation before an atmospheric reprise of For The Daughter leads into the irresistible call of The Temple. The track is a warped dance of vocal and melodic contagion brushed with sonic causticity and addictive rhythmic bait. Simultaneously intimidatingly dark and vibrantly light, the song is a scintillating eventful stroll.

Of Ghosts is brought to a more than decent end by the evocative vocal and guitar led croon of Jack and Spade, a blood soaked reflection of gothic expression. It is a fine end to a release which simply grows and seduces with every listen. The Agency have a masterful ability to tell and colour tales from the darkest shadows for richly satisfying explorations for imagination and emotions, and their album an enthralling portrait of that skill.

Of Ghosts is available digitally and on CD now on Solarbear Records and @ http://theagency1.bandcamp.com/album/of-ghosts

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Agency/235291636504985

RingMaster 29/09/2014

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