Mayflower Madame – Observed in a Dream

MayflowerMadame_RingMasterReview

When looking back at the end of the year, we suspect that April will be noted as one of the most fruitful months for stunning albums, with a great many of them striking debuts. To a list running into double figures we can add the outstanding first full-length from Norwegian band Mayflower Madame. The band’s sound is a captivating weave of post punk, shoegaze, and psych rock textures but given its own distinct character by the imagination of the Oslo quartet, and Observed in a Dream a release which commands attention with a presence slightly nostalgic but as fresh as the dew on a spring morning, and as radiant.

Formed in 2011, Mayflower Madame has already drawn potent attention and praise with the Into the Haze EP in 2013 and last year their single Lovesick. Comparisons to bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Bauhaus, Spacemen 3, and The Jesus & Mary Chain have readily been offered, and understandably with the band’s provocative dark and sensuous sound. Live they have earned a strong reputation too, sharing stages with the likes of Crystal Stilts, Night Beats, La Femme, Disappears, Crocodiles, and Moon Duo along the way and making successful appearances at Norway’s largest festivals, Oya and Norwegian Wood. Now released on their own Night Cult Records and Custom Made Music in North America, Observed in a Dream is ready to wake up the biggest and most attentive spotlights upon the band.

As soon as opener Confusion Hill envelops ears it is a success easy to imagine, and then be sure of as each track seduces imagination and appetite. The first song emerges from a haunted atmosphere with already slightly portentous shadows to its air. Its approaching tempest though is quickly turned into a strolling seduction upon arrival, psych and surf rock flavours shining, almost sighing, over the infectious darkly hued prowl of Petter Gudim Marberg’s bass and Ola Jørgen Kyrkjeeide’s crisp beats. The guitars of Rune Øverby and Trond Fagernes swiftly spin a bed of evocative colour and suggestiveness too as the latter’s also quickly impressing vocals lay emotively upon the strands of sound. It is easy to see where those Bauhaus and Jesus & Mary Chain references come from, though the bigger and bolder the song becomes it reminds more of Gene Loves Jezebel, echoes and resonance on voice and melodies a delicious shimmer.

art_RingMasterReviewAn outstanding start is still eclipsed by its successor Lovesick, a song which plays second fiddle to no one. From its beguiling dark rock ‘n’ roll strum, the song canters along with a devilish swing led by another highly flavoursome throaty bassline and catchy riffery matched by flirtatious beats. Think The Birthday Party meets Helldorado and Tones on Tails as a clue to the track’s virulent alchemy; a song with as much fascinating drama as it has addictive infectiousness.  Its exceptional incitement is as good as matched by that of Self-Seer; another track rolling along on an enslaving rhythmic tenacity and ingenuity. It explores a mellower climate of sound yet still has an energy and sonic clang to physically stir the spirit. If looking for another hint, Echo and The Bunnymen would be a suggestion for the otherwise unique rock ‘n’ roll of the mouth-watering proposal.

A sixties instrumental twang adds to the seduction of Upside Down (The Death Loop), guitars a sultry lure with again a surf rock like tone to their imagination whilst within their searing elegance a cinematic drama infests rhythms and hooks. As much as there is variety to the sound within Observed In A Dream, so too the vocals craft similar diversity, here harmonies glowing with a hazy beauty around the matching delivery of Fagernes.

Latest single Weightless rumbles in next, carrying a far heavier tone and intent in its creative espionage and welcome trespass. A Play Dead/ Sisters Of Mercy like breath soaks the song, its heavy shadows and provocative textures as invasive as they are seductive. Personally, it is not the song we would choose to lead into the release of Observed in a Dream with other more irresistible options, yet the song in its brief moment is a thrilling and rousing protagonist only making the appetite for album and sound greedier.

The calmer landscape and presence of Into The Haze (Redux) hugs ears next, the song a gentle but again lively adventure into noir lit pastures with more cinematic lures whilst the album’s title track, which follows, from a similar template casts its own tantalising and riveting psyche embedding web of sound and emotion which at times is like The Shadows in collusion with House Of Love and Flesh For Lulu.

The album closes with the psychedelically atmospheric Forever//The End Of Everything, a track which equally expresses post punk discord and causticity within its pulsating and bewitching theatre of sound and emotion. It is a powerful end to a tremendous first introduction to most of us to Mayflower Madame. They and Observed In A Dream grab attention, grip tighter with every pleasure giving twist and turn, and emerge as a reason why Mayflower Madame is one of the most exciting bands to make their mark on 2016 so far.

Observed In A Dream is out now via Night Cult Records in Europe and Custom Made Music in North America as an Ltd Ed vinyl, CD, and Download. All options available @ http://mayflowermadame.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mayflowermadame   https://www.instagram.com/mayflowermadame/

Pete RingMaster 29/04/2016

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Velvet Morning – Velvet Moon

 

Velvet-Morning-Velvet-Moon-620x612 

    Immersed in the heat haze of sonic endeavour and melodic mesmerism that is Velvet Moon, atmospheric seduction its engulfing breath, it is hard to resist the temptation of pronouncing UK band Velvet Morning as one of the most compelling and impressive propositions to emerge in recent times. Their six track sultry breeze of guitar based psychedelia and intensive shoegaze temptation is a masterful embrace, one which soars around the senses whilst wrapping around the imagination with a thick and wonderfully intrusive persuasion. Suspenseful and meditative, enthrallingly droning, and simply a sublime coaxing of the emotions, the release is a transfixing debut statement from a band you will be hearing a lot more from we suggest.

     Hailing from Southend-on-Sea, the quartet of vocalist/guitarist Samuel Jones, bassist John Kirkwood, guitarist Luke Elgar, and drummer Chris Richardson seemingly embrace the richly evocative invention of bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, infusing it into their own imaginative incitement of sound whist equally showing a uniqueness which sets them apart from those mentioned. At times it is a creeping rather than raging individualism which strokes ears but one which instinctively slides under the skin and into the psyche igniting a long term enjoyment and passion for their presence.

    As soon as the first croon of bass and guitar tenderly handles the ears as opener Paranoia steps into view there is a feeling of something very appetising approaching, the first irresistible hook unveiled that strong and infectious. The song glides with a romantic gait to its slow melodic caress and rhythmic shuffle, its enveloping narrative like a restrained yet potent flame for thoughts and passions with the excellent expressive drawl of Jones a similarly impacting and descriptive tonic for the imagination. The track is a slow dance of contagious invention, nothing ever hungry enough to want to explode or explore a rigorous technical or intensive weave but built on textures and a breath-taking ambience that are thoughtfully cast and ingeniously developed.

    The following Octocity brings a gentle swagger to its entrance whilst the smouldering warmth and entwining adventure of its predecessor moves into a lighter poppier flight on the song, drawing thoughts of House Of Love into the equation. With shadowing percussive intrigue flirting with the climactic euphoria drifting alongside the sonic humidity, the song bewitches an already eager appetite for the release which the next up Black Velvet Morning sends to new rapture. Immediately capturing the imagination with a dark almost Joy Division like throaty bass sound and a rasping sonic bluster, both again relatively subdued with their shadow bred threat, the track sways before the senses, entrancing them whilst a ridiculously spicy melodic hook takes care of everything else. Merging raw and beauteous narratives the track is a glorious adventure, post punk mystery meets psychedelic incursions for a masterfully magnetic journey.

   She’s A Live Wire takes the listener back into a sweltering sea of lush melodies, minimalistic yet imposing textures, and vocally driven simmering atmospheres. There is an even greater laid back feel and energy to the song than anything before but despite an open skill in the musicianship and sonic colouring soaking the tale, there is also a less dramatic spark to the scorched landscape compared to those around it. It cannot defuse the impressive impact of the EP so far but does lose itself in the shadows of the previous song and the excellent Blue Jean Baby. The track, as the release overall, is an aural drug, an addictive bathing of the senses which leaves imagination painting a scenery and emotions simply reflecting.

    Closing track I Got You provides a final lingering emotive waltz to investigate and bask in, its slow motion enslavement of body and soul another abduction of the passions. There is a rapturous expression and stroll to the track which reflects the heart of the release vividly. It makes the perfect finale to a quite absorbing and exciting first bow from Velvet Morning. Certainly you have to dive deeply within the songs to discover all of the intricacies and vibrant hues, some of their successes submerged within a slightly similar surface presence of some songs, but the rewards for the patience and endeavour are mouthwatering. The Velvet Moon EP is glorious, an encounter which easily inspires full submission into its tranquil fire of lustful intent.

https://www.facebook.com/Velvet.Morning.band

9/10

RingMaster 23/03/2014

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The Lumberjack Feedback – Hand of Glory

The Lumberjack Feedback 2013 - © Mathieu Drouet

Dramatic and compelling, the Hand of Glory EP from French instrumental metallers The Lumberjack Feedback is a masterful journey through cavernous shadows and depths, a tension packed encounter of doom and sludge metal. Consisting of two tracks lasting seventeen minutes between them, the EP is a stunning debut from the Lille based quintet, a provocative apocalyptic soundscape exploring its own darkness and that of the listener.

Consisting of the twin dual attacks of guitarists Simon Herbaut and Arnaud Silvert plus drummers Nicolas Tarridec and Christopher Poirier, with bassist Sebastien Tarridec adding his terrific presence into the mix, The Lumberjack Feedback has earned strong praise for their live performances which has seen them alongside bands such as Crowbar, Gojira, Kylesa, The Oxbow, Wolf Eyes, Spacemen 3, Grey Daturas, Acid King, and Hangman’s Chair. It will be their first release though which will undoubtedly set them as a potent fixture in the acclaim and vision of the widest audience such the power and creative might of the Kaotoxin Records released and Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Cathedral, EyeHateGod, Cattle Decapitation) produced EP.

Opening track A Whisper to the Thunder takes mere seconds to entice the ear with a guitar beckoning soon joined by that 760137002529_TOX025_The-Lumberjack-Feedback_Artwork_600x600-72hypnotic twin drum assault, their craft and temptation measured yet instantly enslaving. There is an energy and hunger to the beginning of the song which makes for a contagious sludge drenched call, riffs carving out a virulent persuasion whilst rhythms and bass define their own enthralling menace to combine for a primal seduction wrapped in a fluid evolution of imaginative and evocative melodic and sonic narrative. Thoughts of bands such as Neurosis and Sunn O))) come to mind but as the piece moves through a piercing sonic tunnel into a heavily weighted and rapaciously intensive dark doom landscape the sound takes on something distinctly unique to the band and visually provocative. The skies have a villainous hue over the track at this point as it lumbers purposefully with a predatory stalking and proceeds to claim any thoughts of escape as it climaxes with a simple but intrusive and lingering sonic breath.

It is an immense start soon matched and evolved further by second track The Dreamcatcher.  Again riveting rhythms from the drums make an earlier invitation which is instinctively impossible to resist, their sinews pacing along the developing wash of guitar brewed sonic mist and the continually thrilling bass provocation. As with its predecessor there is not theatrical invention or awe inspiring technical wizardry going on but the atmospheres and imagery spawning textures as well as melodic emotional painting being created by every skilful and clear but connecting aspect given clarity by each member is scintillating and impossibly powerful. The mesmeric stroll of the first third of the song comes to a point where the brewing climate entices an unleashing of intensive sonic flames and mutually fierce rhythms before flexing even further muscle in an even paced and exhausting investigation of its deepest corners and those of the listener too. The climatic conclusion to the piece towers over the senses, first marked by a flurry of striking punches before closing on one last enriching fire of intensity and sound, and leaves thoughts and passions suddenly alone within their own stark dark world.

Hand of Glory is an outstanding debut and release, but one which in some ways even at its length does not offer enough to really get the teeth into. This is because you only feel you are getting part of a much larger and incredible story or journey. Whether these are teasers to a full length time will tell but as impressive as it is the hunger and expectations on an album will be excited and demanding. The EP is a daunting adventure which inspires without ever using demanding intimidation and as such makes itself a must investigate introduction to a band we will be hearing much more of and one suspects fawning over in the future.

http://www.thelumberjackfeedback.com/

9/10

RingMaster 04/07/2013

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