Pia Fraus – Empty Parks

Photo by Joosep Volk

There are numerous traits which enthral attention within the new album from Estonian band Pia Fraus with with fascination leading the way. In its contrast lit body it offers an embrace of ears and imagination thick in melancholy yet is as life affirming and rich in hope and optimism as any heart could desire.  From its first to last shoegaze nurtured breath Empty Parks eagerly beguiled whilst presenting tracks just as keenly buoyant with contagious dreampop instincts.

Formed in 1998, Pia Fraus has crafted a potent sound and reputation across five studio albums and a host of similarly well and enthusiastically received EPs and singles not forgetting a wealth of shows and tours across Europe and further afield. Their new album, which the band declare their poppiest yet, sees the sextet of vocalist/synthist Eve Komp, vocalist/guitarist/synthist Rein Fuks, bassist Reijo Tagapere, synthist Kärt Ojavee, drummer Joosep Volk and backing vocalist Kristel Eplik linking up with producer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Stereolab, Broken Social Scene, Teenage Fanclub), himself a true musical inspiration to songwriter Fuks.

Empty Parks has emerged as one spellbinding encounter, a dreamy soulful whisper of pop magnetism sure to provide a warm knowing hug around any dark day whilst recognising the shadows such times bring. From the moment album opener Hidden Parks spread its pensive seduction Empty Parks was charming ears and senses. A soothing touch of keys is swiftly entangled in intoxicating strands spun by the guitar, rhythms a darker hue in the contemplation but just as encouraging with their catchy stroll. With the familiar and always beguiling mix of Komp and Fuk’s vocals, the song effortlessly slipped under the skin, the band’s expected but never dulled blend of female and male vocals rapture in its own right.

 An even paced enticement, the track makes for a transfixing start though the following Love Sports had body and attention quickly bouncing with greater urgency straight after; its pop virulence and melody thick mesmerism pure captivation. As with all tracks there is a delicious claustrophobic effect to the song’s temptation, an easy and whole immersion in its creative enchantment which never warrants a wish to escape in this song or the album as a whole.

Slow Boat Fades Out is next up, a track which shares the radiance and bearing of nineties bred shoegaze with the band’s distinctive character of touch and sound which is further lit up by that sublime vocal union while successor Mr. Land Freezer bounds in on a spirited canter drenched in a thick electronic mist. Both tracks share imagination stirring hooks and melodies which caress like lustful lovers and each with increasing dexterity had the body swinging as they slithered under the skin.

Across the wonderful Young Marble Giants meets The Pastels like graceful beauty of Sweet Sunday Snow and the similar tantalising of The New Water with something of an XTC air to its riveting pop enterprise, the album only tightened their hold on ears and pleasure with Paper Flower Projects adding its own substantial enticement. In comparison to its predecessors, it is almost rowdy in its energy and muggy in its breath but another provider of melodic and harmonic radiance around a rhythmic inducement which makes you want to dance within a web of guitar and bass fertility which grips ears and accentuates the pleasure.

If not quite inciting the passions as those before it, You’re Not in Love held attention firmly in its dextrous hands before Nice and Clever and Late Summer Night soon after shared their respective melancholy bound and increasingly tempestuous serenade and balmy yet similarly suggestively mercurial and intense proposal on ears, the latter with a captivating drone like quality.

Australian Boots brings Empty Parks to a close, the song a final absorbing caress which harbours its own emotive disturbance, one which openly and eagerly simmers but never quite erupts. The track is a joy of intrigue and intimation within an equally thrilling embrace and a fine end to a release which simply kept the real world at bay for forty five odd minutes.

Empty Parks is out now via Seksound / Vinyl Junkie; available @ https://piafraus.bandcamp.com/album/empty-parks

https://www.facebook.com/piafrausband   https://twitter.com/piafrausband

Pete RingMaster 05/03/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Innadaze – Self Titled EP

Innadaze_RingMasterReview

As great as it is receiving potential releases to write and shout about via labels and PR companies there is something extra alluring when it is the artist themselves who get in touch whether by choice or necessity. Such it is with UK outfit Innadaze who recently requested a little attention for their new self-titled EP. Offering four tracks of the band’s quickly revealing individual psych grunge sound it was an introduction and moment of exploration which proved richly rewarding.

Bradford based, Innadaze emerged in 2018, formed by guitarist/vocalist Enzo Annecchini, drummer Billy Lockwood and guitarist Daniel Greenhalgh. With its line-up soon completed by bassist Ato Leo Ame, the band released debut single Wild as Love soon after, a song as potent at drawing new fans as their live shows around Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool across 2019 and indeed a subsequent demo EP. February of this year saw their new EP unveiled and a quartet of tracks which captivated as they wormed under the skin and almost aggressively consumed the senses.

The band’s sound is an alluring fusion of grunge, psych rock and shoegaze, an even mix which maybe hints at others in certain times but going by the new proposition has a certain individuality which again only tempted attention. EP opener, Totally Insignificant, quickly establishes that presence and the rich breath of the band’s music. Immediately bold rhythms and heavy riffs descend on ears; additional teases of guitar lining up intrigue as the song eagerly emerges with grunge bred instincts. Already there is a thick contagion to the proposal, hooks and twists aligning to further lure ears, Annecchini’s alluring vocals bringing that more shoegaze/psych nurtured texturing to the song. It is a seriously rousing affair but one further lit up by melodic dexterity and a host of imagination themed hooks and turns.

It is a tremendous start only matched indeed slightly eclipsed by next up Beyond The Sky. It too grabs ears with a robust and muscular proposal from the off but quickly wraps it in melodic and harmonic enterprise. Again there is an unpredictability to twists and imagination which does not erupt in something voraciously unconventional but ensures every moment comes with open adventure and intrigue. As with all tracks there is a great almost drone like quality to it too which nags away at ears and appetite just as potently as the band’s tenacious and united enterprise.

The similarly outstanding Duress Excess similarly provides an incessant tempting, its core lures buzzing at the senses as rhythms pounce and grooves bound ears in intoxicating almost toxic enticement. Caustic and corrosive in some ways, seductive and seriously arousing in just as many, the track is a controlled yet feverish slice of feral rock ‘n’ roll again proving irresistible to these ears.

The EP concludes with You See Me, a gentler and calmer consideration for the senses still bred in the band’s psych/shoegaze nurtured instincts. Though the song did not quite ignite the passions as its predecessors, with its melodic landscape lit with fuzzy sonic fires and set across a rugged rhythmic setting, the track only fascinated from start to finish.

Innadaze is a band which deserves checking out and their EP one which warrants keen attention. Given the chance it is hard to imagine either will incite anything else.

The Innadaze EP is out now.

 https://www.facebook.com/innadaze.music/

Pete RingMaster 29/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Crooked Ghost – Colors Bleed

photo by Rome Widenhouse

If you look at the press release for new EP, Colors Bleed, it suggests the sounds within would make something appealing for the fans of bands such as The Smiths, Suede, The Cure, Muse, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Gun Club, and early R.E.M. With each a valid clue to the Crooked Ghost sound it is a list suggesting its thickly flavoured body but maybe not quite its distinctly fascinating and often consuming character.

Asheville, North Carolina hailing, Crooked Ghost has already made a potent impact in 2019 with their album Skeleton House, released this past February. Recorded with producer Edward Madill, Colors Bleed now sees the quintet cast tracks which are “bigger and brighter than those before” but within the shoegaze, post punk, and dream pop seeded tapestries there is no escaping the invasively intimate shadows and esurient often raw melancholy fuelling their hearts and imagination.

Latest single, Black Rainbow, opens up the release, its gentle melodic beginning an evocative coaxing. Soon it is building up into a creative crescendo, the lively rhythms of drummer Jon Wyatt uniting with the jangling prowess ringing from the guitars of Charles Reed and Ray Lark, with the latter’s similarly magnetic vocals swiftly adding to the catchy temptation. Already there is emotional weight and tempestuous to the track and its mental illness themed intimacy, the keys of Alex Cannon radiant smog within the textures as the bass of Chris Saldin brings firmer shape to its inherent shadows.

By the breath the song only intensifies its fears and emotional turbulence yet there is a melodic sun at its heart which just beguiled before Sinew In Red shared it’s even more fervid breath and conflict. Again there is an enveloping heat to sound and emotion at the core of the song, its dark embrace a fusion of enquiring warmth and invasive melancholy within the haunting bewitchment consuming ears and attention, it all enveloping like a kind of rapturous romance. As its predecessor, the track simply bewitched though again as with the first leaving a lingering touch built on doubt and hope in its wake.

The final pair of Golden Blue and Bright White Noise provided just as evocative explorations to keenly immerse in. The first rises from its crepuscular calm with melodic captivation wrapped in more strident sonic threads yet again there is instinctive warmth which seduces across both keys and guitars. Lark’s inimitable tones only add to the bracing emotion soaked soundscape, his voice and words crafted in open and candid reflection.

The closing song is in many ways the most intense and haunting track of all, its sorrow verging on claustrophobic and melancholy devouring  yet once more Crooked Ghost bring a glow and melodic captivation which lights its shadows alongside the listener’s thoughts and feelings.

Colors Bleed quickly proved a gripping release but became increasingly spellbinding as each fresh listen opened up more depth and temptation in its body and imagination.

Colors Bleed is out now: available@ https://crookedghost.bandcamp.com/album/colors-bleed

https://www.facebook.com/CrookedGhost   https://twitter.com/thecrookedghost

Pete RingMaster 05/11/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Medicine – Scarred For Life

photo by Beatrix Zilinskas

We have always had the appetite for covers as B-sides, part of EPs, or as bonus tracks on albums but never quite as keen on complete albums just providing versions of other’s songs and don’t get us started on the merit of cover bands finding great success on the back of others songwriting talent but there is always an exception and the new album from LA based Medicine is one such captivation.

The brainchild of guitarist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Brad Laner, Medicine was one of the most potent bands to shape the emerging shoegaze/noise pop sound and scene in the nineties. After a hiatus of several years they have returned with Scarred For Life, as mentioned a collection of covers which take on new character with the touch of the band. Each song though does not feel like Medicine has deliberately dissected and rearranged them instead they feel like they have simply evolved through an organic and instinctive embrace of the band’s distinctive imagination. It brings potent diversity and rich fascination to the release alongside pleasure which is only escalated with the return of original vocalist Annette Zilinskas (also originally of The Bangles and later Blood On The Saddle, Weatherbell, and 3 Hole Punch).

With a line-up completed by guitarist Matt Devine and drummer Jim Goodall, he again one of the original Medicine members, the band opens up Scarred For Life with its title track and their take on the Slapp Happy song. Immediately a thick jangle of guitar descends as rhythms infectiously manipulate. Within the clamour a melodic breath lures with its temptation in full bloom as Zilinskas’ magnetic tones blossom within the muggy treat.

It is a compelling start to the release which Sentimental Lady more than reinforces. The Fleetwood Mac track similarly has a certain clamour which rises around the entrancing melodic invitation which initially preceded it. It is sonic smog as intense as it is ravening but with a composed trespass around the melodic sun which warmly beguiles before Dead Time Bummer Blues hugs and incites the senses with its luxuriant if raw breath and folkish swing. As all songs within the release there is nothing less than captivation on the agenda with the Judee Sill written track amongst the most irresistible.

Neil Young’s Expecting To Fly follows, resonating on the senses before melodic misting envelopes all and its romancing heart shares harmonic smouldering amidst bracing fuzziness. Enthralling from first to last breath but with increasing effect as keys, provided by Solo Goodspeed, weave their noble threads, the track becomes something truly individual to Medicine, the same easily said about both Absolutely Free and Listen To The Band straight after. The Mothers of Invention original is pure infection, its carnival-esque undercurrent bound in a cast of esurient enterprise and theatrical drama as the band develop the tracks original seeds into their own unpredictably creative parade. It is a glorious encounter followed by another which had the imagination bouncing. The more familiar second of the two is engraved on ears by The Monkees and Medicine simply emphasize its more feral aspects though when we say simply there is nothing less than instinctive adventure in every revisited note and syllable.

Through the rich almost suffocating and inescapably infectious pop fuzz of Sally Go Round The Roses, a hit originally for The Jaynetts, and the pure contagion of The Sweetest Girl, band and album only got further under the skin. The second of the two proved a definite favourite here, the Scritti Politti track bred here on an electronic shimmer with dub instincts cradling sheer captivation in the band’s vocals. It is aural romance, melodies and harmonies rapturous caresses within walls of sonic anxiety and scuzz fed anticipation.

The Green Country provides a canvas for the imagination next, it’s electronically bred instrumental wired by just as intimate and suggestive guitar quick food for thought and emotive interpretation while Pickup Song with its sepia lit keys and atmosphere is an evocative embrace of shadows and melancholic magnetism around and inspired by the slowcore droned air of the Codeine original.

Both tracks simply fascinated as the album moved into far darker corners which are further engaged in album closer, Black Satin. The Miles Davies composed track is a jungle of sound and textures, a heated and slightly imposing yet addictively virulent incitement of sound and enterprise on body and emotion.

It is a great end to a release which has increasingly had us absorbed and pleasured. As we hope new material is on the horizon from Medicine, Scarred For Life is a spellbinding return to be getting on with.

Scarred for Life is out now through Drawing Room Records; available @ https://bradlaner.bandcamp.com/album/scarred-for-life-4

https://www.facebook.com/medicinebandsfv/   https://twitter.com/BradLaner   https://bradlaner.bandcamp.com/

Pete RingMaster 31/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Ummagma – Compass

Though any Ummagma release is welcomed with eager intrigue and anticipation by us among a great many the recent Caravan single raised the ante for the band’s new album with its captivation soaked release. The fact, though we have had numerous singles and EPs between, that Compass comes a lengthy seven years after its same day released two predecessors only added to the excitement coated suspense. What the duo’s third full-length offers is their most eclectic and rousing collection of tracks and quite simply their finest most exhilarating moment to date.

The pair of Canadian Shauna McLarnon and Ukraine hailing Alexander Kretov embraces everything from shoegaze, dream and synth pop to electronic and rock driven imagination with plenty more in the abundant enterprise of their new encounter. it is a release and collection of songs though which still revel in the atmospheric and ambient dreamscapes the Ontario based pair has earned thick acclaim and a potent reputation for. The album’s first single suggested that the Ummagma sound had evolved to a whole new tapestry of adventure and diversity, a bold aural kaleidoscope now confirmed and taken across a compelling array of individually and uniquely fresh landscapes by Compass.

The album opens up with Rolling and instantly infests the senses with its animated funk incited rhythms. Hitting its joyous stride soon after, the track bounces along dragging the listener to their feet, Kretov’s vocals a ringleader to the boisterous escapade. With its Talking Heads meets Dalek I Love You like shuffle, the track gets the release off to a thrilling start, one more than accentuated by successor Caravan.

The second track similarly had attention and instincts alive with its rhythmic introduction alone, bold tenacious beats a tribal intimation within the suggestive sonic vegetation that surround them. With body and imagination swiftly enslaved, McLarnon’s ever siren tones warmly caress as the song expands its scenically melodic emprise while the alternating blend of the duo’s voices only adds to the cinematic lure and enticing climate of the exceptional encounter.

Otherwise is next up, the song sharing another individual clime of sound and flavour as Caribbean-esque hues gently but firmly trot within an evolving dream pop serenade. More than ever it proved so easy to sink into the soundscapes of Ummagma as within just three songs Compass had unveiled a new plateau of craft, imagination, and temptation; an enticement nagging at the senses as eagerly within the electronic ambience coloured LCD. With voices as much a lively texture as the sounds courting the same evocative space, the track swept across the senses to, if not quite to the same heights as its predecessors, strongly captivate.

Equally the dream nurtured pop of Elizabeth 44 proved a beacon of persuasion and manipulation, guiding hips and attention with a knowing smile as McLarnon again beguiled, while Blown straight after was swiftly under the skin through its opening indie strokes of guitar alone. As its atmosphere grew and thickened with crystalline synth tempting and a hazy breath the track only enhanced its hold especially as cosmopolitan shapes and melodic silhouettes came forth to dance with keen rhythms and conjuring imagination.

The following predominantly instrumental F-Talking is one of those Ummagma tracks which sparks a fresh inference upon the imagination with every listen, its ambient search and discovery enthralling and interpretation never concluded with successor Galicticon, a spatial float across an expansive melodic sky of equal intimation, just as potent on ears and thoughts.

The diverse character of Compass continues at pace with Lotus strolling in on a shoegaze swing as Kretov walks its wiry threads. There is a touch of Paul Haig to the excellent song which only adds to its rich presence as too a Cocteau Twins like seducing which makes for a similarly alluring essence within the pastoral summer of High Day that follows with matching fascination.

The pair of Colors II and Cretu ensures a fair share of the imagination is cast on their adventures too, the first a slice of indie rock with a folk meets post punk shading and the second an ambient glide across mercurial and unpredictable scenery, every instrumental second a dawning of new suggestive sights to captivate thoughts and senses.

The radiant Bouquet brings Compass to a mesmeric conclusion, its hug shadow clad yet brightly seductive and breath foreboding but rousing. It is an eagerly magnetic end to an album which charmed, tantalised and absorbed from start to finish with moments of creative rapture set in between. Ummagma just go from strength to strength, from bold adventure to striking imagination releases by release; Compass the indisputable proof.

Compass is out now via Leonard Skully Records; available @ http://ummagma.bandcamp.com/album/compass

https://www.facebook.com/ummagma   https://twitter.com/ummagma

Pete RingMaster 31/07/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Ummagma – Caravan

This June sees the release of the first album in seven years from Ummagma and to herald its arrival whilst offering a rather delicious teaser the indie pop duo has just released the two track single Caravan. As ever the pair’s sound is as eclectic as it is evocative and as is the trend with atmospheric senses involving mastery the new single evokes and inspires the imagination to individual adventures alongside its own.

Emerging in 2003, Ummagma is the creative union of Canadian Shauna McLarnon and Ukraine hailing Alexander Kretov. Ontario based, the pair’s sound is an imaginative fusion of everything from dream pop and shoegaze to post-punk, indie, space rock and much more, it all immersed in a tapestry of ambient and electronic enterprise. The duo has regularly been compared to bands such as Cocteau Twins, Curve, and Daughter but as Caravan alone insists, references which only hint at rather than reveal the richness of the band’s music and imagination.

It is fair to say that our personal appetite to Ummagma’s music is constant but has flourished in varying strengths across their releases and ahead of that new album in Compass, has reached lustful greed courtesy of Caravan. The song instantly had ears gripped as drums set out their ridiculously hypnotic and rousing stroll. Atmospheric suggestion is just as swiftly at play with the imagination, its soundscape of warm wide plains blossoming with suggestive vegetation. McLarnon’s warm magnetic tones are also soon caressing ears as the song sweeps into a synth pop-esque canter, Kretov’s subsequent vocals just as tempting within the pair’s web of musical insistence.

The song is pure adventure, an intimate travelogue of intrigue, intimation, and craft which had the body bouncing and ears enthralled from start to finish.

Ty i Ya accompanies Caravan offering up its own individual temptation; one funk lined and eighties synth pop bred. There is something of Dalek I Love You to the song which only added to its quick appeal and it too brings an atmospheric cascade of enterprise and suggestion which mesmerised throughout even if with varying degrees of strength across its evocative landscape.  Ummagma is a band which is unafraid to push their boundaries and the imagination of others in unexpected ways, Ty i Ya proof it so often works a treat.

It is probably fair to say that any album, indeed release, from Ummagma is eagerly anticipated in numerous corners, Caravan ensures Compass will definitely be truly keenly awaited.

Caravan is out now through Leonard Skully Records; available @ https://ummagma.bandcamp.com/album/caravan with Compass released on June 21th also via Leonard Skully Records digitally, on black vinyl and on CD with artwork by Alexander Kretov.

https://www.facebook.com/ummagma   https://twitter.com/ummagma

Pete RingMaster 17/05/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright