Calling All Astronauts – Red Flag EP

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Following on from their impressive debut album Post Modern Conspiracy, UK electro goth punks Calling All Astronauts confirm their potent presence within British electro rock with the invigorating Red Flag EP. A track which shone upon their full length release as one of the year’s best electro punk anthems, the London based trio revamp and re-ignite its already mighty presence with a full blaze of inventive explorations. Consisting of five full-bodied investigations for the cost of a single track, the Red Flag EP is a magnetic persuasion to inspire all musical appetites.

Since emerging in 2011 the band has sculpted a rich position in the goth/electro punk scene with a lyrical attack and sound which crosses and merges those elements and more skilfully and distinctly, whilst their live performances has pulled in equal acclaim with the band sharing stages with the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, PWEI, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and A Place To Bury Strangers whilst also headlining and selling out Alan Magee’s Death2Disco at Notting Hill Arts Club. As shown with previous singles such as Someone Like You and What’s So Good About?, and across the impressively confronting Post Modern Conspiracy, the threesome of David B (vocals, keys, programming), J Browning (guitar), and Kristi Bury (bass) take no prisoners lyrically and musically and Red Flag is no exception. Following the progress of the band has bred the thought that it is time for the band to make the next step up and this EP alongside their recent album might just be the spark needed.

The release opens with the In Your Bass Mix of the title track, a thumping brew of rhythmic provocation and scarring guitar driven by the caustic delivery of David B. There is a schizophrenic breath to the mix, a St. Vitus’ Dance rabidity to the sonic squall and a rhythm casting enslavement to the heavily boned goth rock bruising. It is an excellent start, a version which easily challenges and matches the original cut of the track which follows in its Single Edit form straight after. A more restrained presence is uncaged by the band with a Sisters Of Mercy/Play Dead like throat to the vocals and a deep pulsating bass shadow wrapping the fiery guitar play. Red Flag is a song easily accessible but one taking the listener through almost cavernous resonating realms, whichever version you frequent, whilst a lyrical incitement hits home without over playing its touch. It is a compelling blend, one impossible to resist.

Next up comes the Gothstep Mix and the E39 NYC Club Edit of the track, the first an industrial stalked version which brings a Gary Numan like breath alongside almost bedlamic electro surges and squeals, and the second an incendiary dancefloor stomp which has feet in league with its sonic fascination. Both tracks add something different to the song but neither manages to match the heights of the first two or the following album version of the track. Expanded to its full glory, the final track is ultimately the best version of Red Flag though it is easy to take either of the main versions of the track and give them equal lustful responses.

If the Red Flag is your introduction to Calling All Astronauts there is no finer a way to walk through their creative door and if already a fan, the release makes a stirring and impressive companion to their must have album.

http://www.callingallastronauts.com/

http://callingallastronauts1.bandcamp.com/releases

8/10

RingMaster 04/11/2013

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Calling All Astronauts: What’s So Good About?

Upon reviewing their previous single Winter Of Discontent, we declared Calling All Astronauts as ‘one of the most exciting alternative rock bands in the UK right now, maybe the best.’ With the release of their third single What’s So Good About? on December 2nd, the impressive track gives no reason to change our declaration. It is a thrilling blend of techno punk and electro gothic shadows which evokes thought and passion with mesmeric enterprise and seductive energy.

The London based trio of vocalist/programmer/producer David B, ex-Caffeine guitarist J Browning, and bassist Kristi B, have ignited plenty of emotion and acclaim their way since emerging with debut single Someone Like You a year ago. The follow up Winter Of Discontent drew even greater recognition towards the inventive imagination of the band whilst performances alongside the likes of A Place To Bury Strangers, Roger Daltrey, Pop Will Eat Itself and Echo And The Bunnymen, not forgetting the band selling out Alan Magee’s “Death2Disco” for their show and constant radio play across the likes of BBC 6Music, RTE, Q Radio, Amazing Radio, and The Reputation Radio Show (Audioburger) established and concreted the band as one of the most inspiring and experimentally adventurous bands around.

What’s So Good About? saunters in with a throaty resonance leading to a flesh sizzling sonic outpouring before hypnotic rhythms and washes of gentler electronic caresses take their place before the expressive and darkened delivery, lyrical and emotively, of David B. Already renowned for their social and political sharpness, the track is an arguably darker and more intense affair than its predecessors, its abrasive and senses searing corrosion and metallic confrontation bringing an impactful urgency and spite to the theme of greed orientated society blinkered through obsession with fame and consumerism to those less fortunate. It is a pulse rate elevating mix of punk rock and electro which burns potently with fiery melodic guitar sonics blistering the already intimidating surface of the song, the encounter agitating and exciting the senses further. The Sisters Of Mercy/Psychedelic Furs lilt alongside the prowling basslines brings another texture and depth to the layered piece of imagination unleashed by the band to engage and enflame heart and senses to even greater volcanic degrees. It is a furnace of intensity and pleasure  showing a continued evolution in the songwriting and strength of the band and their inciting creativity.

The release comes with the less sonically pressuring Echoboy Bounce Remix of the song, the mix taking the track to the dancefloor with added warmth and elegance replacing some of the aggressive intent. It is a vibrant and enjoyable take of the track though lacks the snarl and hunger of the single to match its might, but does add an inventive breath to urge different eager reactions to its ideas.

What’s So Good About? is another irresistible and stunning step in the rise of Calling All Astronauts. To our claim of most exciting rock band in the UK, add imaginative and provocative not to forget impressive. With a show with the legendary Sigue Sigue Sputnik at Mother Live, London on December 7th, Calling All Astronauts go into 2013 with all creative guns blazing.

https://www.facebook.com/CallingAllAstronauts

RingMaster 20/11/2012

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Calling All Astronauts: Winter Of Discontent

After the success and acclaim for their debut single London based socio-political band Calling All Astronauts return with their new track Winter Of Discontent, a dark brewing storm of malcontent. Once more the band have harvested seeds of social and political dissatisfaction into an inciteful and charged piece of songwriting and music. The trio of vocalist/programmer David B, guitarist JJ Browning, and bassist Kristi Bury, this time have intensified the dark electro energy which invaded through their first release Someone Like You into a heavily shadowed and deeply rooted provocation. It is immense, a resonating heart spawn soundtrack for today.

Released June 24th through MKM Records, Winter Of Discontent follows up what has been a productive time between releases with the band receiving consistent airplay across sixty radio stations and on shows like BBC 6 Music Introducing with Tom Robinson. Ireland’s RTE Culture Café, and The Bone Orchard from The Reputation Radio Show. They were also featured on the cover mount of Big Cheese Magazine and supported A Place to Bury Strangers and Pop Will Eat Itself amongst their own successful headlining shows. The new release is the next accelerated step for the band, its blackened seduction simply irresistible and unforgettable.

The song immediately consumes the ear from the start with agitated electro sparks and a wonderful throbbing pulsating cello/bass groan from Kristi Bury which is unrelenting and insistent through the length of the song. It is like a primal call, an anthem for dark times and shadows and mesmeric within its resonating drone atmosphere. Around it the guitars of JJ Browning spark and enthral whilst excited beats light up the growing intensity behind the emotive vocals of David B, his plaintive tones a fluid link between the dark and light of the song. As with their debut there is a heavy Sister Of Mercy breath which pervades the senses and at times as the song plays their track Alice comes to mind, its flavour a formidable and invigorating spice to the thrilling sounds and reinforced by the Andrew Eldritch like vocals of David B. Imagine the pop craft of The Cure and the atmospheric shadows created by Bauhaus in addition and you get the essence of the sound within the single, though Calling All Astronauts expand into textures and soundscapes uniquely their own.

Winter Of Discontent is outstanding and destined to eclipse its predecessor in success and acclaim. Calling All Astronauts are one of the most exciting alternative rock bands in the UK right now, maybe the best.

Grab a free download of the single @  http://callingallastronauts1.bandcamp.com/track/winter-of-discontent and listen out for the track on The Reputation Radio Show @ http://www.reputationradioshow.com/.

http://www.callingallastronauts.com/

RingMaster 16/06/2012

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Interview with Bruno A. of Vertigo Steps

One of the most striking, enterprising and formidable releases to come out so far this year is the stunning Surface/Light from Vertigo Steps. The third album from the Portuguese / Finnish project consisting of Bruno A., Niko Mankinen, as well as Daniel Cardoso, is a deeply mesmeric and empowering album full of immersive thick expansive atmospheres, a melancholic breath, and close emotive enveloping sounds. Most of all it is an album of intimate songwriting and expressively crafted songs. Wanting to know more about the band and music we had the opportunity and pleasure at The RingMaster Review of asking Bruno A. all about Vertigo Steps and the album.

Hello and thank you for taking time to talk with us

Firstly would you just introduce the band to those not yet aware of your great sounds?

VS is pretty much the best band in the world you still haven’t listened to or heard about 🙂 A wee bit more seriously now, it’s a project based in Portugal, but featuring several foreign guest musicians, mostly Scandinavian. The soundscape is a tad hard to pin down and the best is to have a few good listens, but could perhaps be loosely described as highly atmospheric and melancholic Heavy Rock, with several Metal touches and Progressive and Post-rock leanings. We will use any colour from the palette to enhance the global canvas. Strongly emotional and cinematic, but also oddly infectious.

How and when did Vertigo Steps begin?

September 2007, my bedroom. With little more than a guitar, programming software and an internet connection.

Was there an aim or main idea behind the band or the music it was set up to create?

Well, not a very specific, closed concept or grand design backing it all. But surely a very powerful will to come up with a new, refreshing and musically rich sound and vision – with no boundaries save for a high quality standard in all aspects of the band’s output.

You set up the band initially as a solo venture or was there always the intention of having contributing musicians?

Contributions were always intended, yes. Even though I came up with all music, words and concept, I knew I needed some gifted and unique musicians taking part in the action. Another reason would be I can’t play drums as good as Daniel or sing at Niko’s harmonic power and emotional delivery :). Might come out something akin to Tom Waits strung out on opium.

The band now has a core of Bruno, Niko Mankinen, and also Daniel Cardoso? I can imagine the acquaintance with Daniel being also Portuguese and having fingers in most things great from the country haha, but how did the link up with Finn Niko occur?

Yep, that’s pretty much the main core these days. Daniel has always been our producer and drummer, occasional backing singer and also bass player (except for the debut). I actually met and became friends with him around ’99 or so, long before he was producing all those bands. At the time being he played in Sirius and I was starting out Arcane Wisdom, my first “solo” project – for which he kindly offered his drumming skills. Nowadays he’s enjoying the international success he’s entitled to (Anathema, Anneke, etc,). As for Niko, I was an appreciator of his work with Misery Inc. and contacted him through email, sent him a couple of samples and he was interested from day one. Looking back now and watching his evolution and immersion in the VS sound, lyrics and philosophy, it all makes perfect sense. His work is miles away from what he was doing back then and his growing role as lyricist is also glove fitting. We have pretty much worked as a duo for some years now, even given the geographical distance. Apart from the 3 recordings in Portugal, we’ve also met in Helsinki and will do so again next July, in Berlin.

What are your major influences as a musician that has inspired you and the music?

The tangent universe and all that’s real enough to make me feel. If you mean exclusively musical influences, I have always listened to a lot of music and a lot of different styles and bands. Probably too many to mention here, stuff I pick everywhere from metal and rock to post-rock /ambient, soundtracks, electronic music, even classical and ethnic. But none of them ever worked specifically as basis for VS: our sound comes from everything that surrounds us, not just sound and definitely not any band/musician in particular. If you ask me, that’s the way it should more often be, music evolves with one’s own vision – however filtered through particular music tastes and life experiences – and not mere idol rehashing. And I think it shows – people are endorsing the fact we actually write songs, something sadly increasingly absent from heavier realms of music.

Your debut self titled  album came out in 2008 and was a striking album to say the least, how much of its impactful songs, sounds and ideas came as the album was created and how much was elements that has been imagined, thought up and stored in the years before the band even existed?

Good question, probably 50-50! I recall the songs on the debut ranged from 2004 until around the recording date – March 2008. I used to call it intentionally incoherent, because of the major differences in style, but that’s where my mind was at and how I envisioned such a debut album. Since the compositions and lyrics all came from the same place, some kind of cohesiveness would always be present. I still hold it dear as a pretty interesting release, full of energy and strength, an emotional rollercoaster, and am thankful for its warm reception. It did take a lot of people by surprise.

You have just released your exceptional third album Surface/Light. How has your sound changed from that initial release and though second album The Melancholy Hour to this new album?

Thank you! Well as I just mentioned the debut was ostensibly diverse but the idea for the following releases was always to raise the sound cohesion a bit, whilst maintaining the VS sound identity which is always a highly versatile one – never a band to write an album with 10 or 12 songs sounding exactly the same! But with The Melancholy Hour (which also saw great reactions) and, specially, Surface/Light, the songwriting comprised a more specific time period and thus the songs are more focused and sheltered under its albums’ abode. There is a considerable sound difference between Surface/Light and the debut or parts of it, even though you can also tell it’s the exact same band, something I think is natural and expected. It would be impossible to forge what is today Surface/Light back in 2008, for the album is also the product of our experiences and progression as humans and songwriters. Fortunately, and though the new release is the crowning achievement, all albums stand strongly on their own merits.

Has your song writing process changed distinctly over the years and albums too?

Hopefully, otherwise wouldn’t be doing the job right 🙂 I guess 10 years ago I was somewhat over-creative and would insert 10 riffs in 7min songs. The riffs themselves were quite alright, but I evolved as a songwriter into making songs which I want to be memorable and timeless (at least for some!). Therefore I haven’t since long been interested in instrumental show-off or overly complex song structures. What I most enjoy listening to and creating are strong, emotional songs, with impact and that hit you on quite a deeper level than the flashing solo or überfast blastbeat – and I’m sure you know what I mean here. For instance, I always appreciated how acts like Katatonia, Green Carnation or even Anathema gradually emerged amidst the metal scene to become much more interesting prospects on their own and crave their particular niche, still rooted in metal but going far beyond its scope and boundaries.

Are you a songwriter who works relentlessly at a song from its seed until it has a breath of its own or one that takes their time, stepping back from it time to time?

There is really no rule here, it all depends on the mood and how the song appears and builds-up. But usually the main structure and primal grounds are set soon and fairly swift; afterwards I deal more with details, add-ons, atmospheres, whatever I think suits the song in order to enhance it, to grant it wings. Sometimes a specific background ambience or piano note can be as important to me as a riff or clean guitar melody.

With Surface/Light there is not so much a theme but there does seem a kind of connection that flows throughout each track on the album?

I have been told about this seamless connection – and agree. The album is probably best experienced as a whole, creating a mesmerizing, immersive experience, sorrowful but also rewarding and offering several glimpses of light from within the generally darker pathos. I feel the album title and artwork – as well as the lyrics – all offer fine clues to this pervasive undercurrent.

What do the songs deal with and take as inspiration?

Just things that somehow affect us in life. Observations on how to struggle amidst all the madness that surrounds us in modern-day extra-fast society and the extreme complexity of humankind, up to everyday emotions and reactions.

The songs vary from pure expansive atmospheres to at times sturdy aggression and all carrying a melancholic and dark essence, but it is also full of warmth and beauty. How much attention, time, and emotion goes into your music to craft such a full and emotive experience within piece of music?

Your description is I believe quite accurate. It takes the time enough for us to be happy with it. Sometimes not that much actually – I’m guessing because nothing is forced and it’s just the natural way in which the songs come out. This time the songs were all written over a 6 month period – between October 2010 and March 2011.

Does the music and the qualities we just mentioned reflect you personally and emotionally too?

I am sure of it, even though I’m probably not the best person to be discussing that.

Surface/Light is your first release on a label, Ethereal Sound Works. Has this had a big impact on recording and releasing the album?

None on the recording, cause it was done without any label behind. When it became ready we sent it to a couple and ESW presented the most interesting proposal. They also came up with the idea for the “sublight” EP and the very beautiful special digipak edition with the full discography – something I always thought should happen once a label would pick us up, because the first two albums had only seen digital release. Everything is working rather smoothly, we just arranged a release party which was filmed for a small video-edit and will have some merchandise soon, as well.

We mentioned him earlier and the album like your previous ones includes production from Daniel Cardoso as well as his musical skills. The man seems to be in everything good coming out of Portugal musically, what are his qualities that stand out for you and enhance your music?

I’m fond of Daniel both as a person and musician and he was always the obvious option to work with. As a musician and producer, he brings professionalism, instrumental proficiency and a good taste that suits VS rather well. His playing is something I truly enjoy and as producer he’s also cool to work with, especially because we need a strong cooperation, being myself pretty involved in this area. I like intelligent input, and with all the ideas I have on the VS sound and all the pre-production work and programming that I carry along into the recording, I would hardly match as well with a more close-minded producer who would take everything according to his own views and tastes. So forget Bob Rock.

Like in your previous releases Surface/Light contains many guests. Could you tell us a few, why you brought them in, and what they particularly gave extra to your compositions?

Jan Transit from In The Woods… I think needs no further introduction. Stein R Sordal and Sophie are usual guests and both shine with vocal radiance. Patrik Karlsson from This Haven is a first time guest, singing in two songs – incredibly talented vocalist.  All of them brought something very special and unique to their songs.

The way you record your albums with guests and forth, is Vertigo Steps able to be an active live band or likely to be at some point?

Not at the moment. At some point in the future… only time will yell!

What comes next after the Surface/Light? Ideas already forming for future songs?

Yes, even if I try to steer a bit clear of composing for a while after each album, there are always new, refreshing things popping out here and there. Some ideas for new songs and mostly acoustic parts. Exploring quite magical clean melodies, over dynamic, strong backing riffs. Anyway, I’ll relocate to Germany in June so I’ll probably keep playing acoustic guitar but won’t worry too much for now with a future pre-production. All in due time 🙂

Once more many thanks for sharing your time.

Would you like to leave with some words for those enjoying and about to experience the impressive creativity of Surface/Light?

First of all I’d like to thank you for the excellent review and interview as well. As for future listeners, I’ll strongly advise them to check our profiles – Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, BandCamp – to see for themselves what we’re about and hopefully if they enjoy our work and vision, feel free to order the albums and spread the word around. It would definitely be rewarding and fair to finally get a bit more worldwide exposure.

And lastly we thought the melody within Someone (Like You) was a shoe-in for a Bond movie soundtrack, if there was any movie series that you could soundtrack what would it be?

Not a particular Bond-freak myself but actually quite the cinephile, so your remark is wise and amusing! I have thought of making movie or short-movie soundtracks, given the highly cinematic and ambient nature of my music – both with VS and other. Perhaps an Aronofsky or Lynch movie, or a show like Carnivàle… maybe just an indie road movie. Something moody, eerie, psychological or even epic – and surely edgy!

Read the review of  Surface/Light @

The RingMaster Review 03/05/2012

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