Astral Cloud Ashes – Dear Absentee Creator

Eighteen months or so in the making, Dear Absentee Creator is the keenly awaited successor to the critically well-received debut album marking Astral Cloud Ashes out as one inescapably magnetic encounter.  Released in 2016, Too Close to the Noise Floor was a collection of songs which intrigued as they pleasured, fascinated as they almost forcibly introduced an ear grabbing new artist to the British music scene. Now Dear Absentee Creator takes all the prowess and potential of its predecessor to the next level with eleven tracks which seduce the imagination and stir ears with their infectious adventures.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the solo project of Jersey hailing multi-instrumentalist Antony Walker who had already caught our ears and appetite as one half of also Channel Islands bred outfit Select All Delete Save As . Formed in 2016, the band swiftly sparked keen interest with the title track of that subsequent first album. The full bodied Too Close to the Noise Floor really stirred attention and praise with its release later that first year and a sound which lies somewhere between the embraces of indie rock, alt-pop, and math rock being self-tagged as Future-core. To be fair, enjoyably it is a proposition very difficult to pin down, familiar in some ways, boldly individual in a great many others, and as proven by the new encounter, always at ease captivating the senses.

Whereas Too Close to the Noise Floor saw backing vocalist Jason Neil a thick presence alongside, Dear Absentee Creator is all Walker with just a few guests in pianist/vocalist James Elliott Field (Tubelord, Tall Ships) on the album’s closing song and drummer Max Saidi on three others as well as Melle Brower (vocalist for Dutch metallers Illusionless) providing cymbals on Clockhand Reversal. Mastered as that earlier album by Tim Turan, Dear Absentee Creator references Satoshi Nakamoto in its title, the creator of the world’s first ever cryptocurrency in Bitcoin, whose true identity has never been known to anyone and has not been heard of since the final weeks of 2010.

It opens up with the melodic enticement of News Anchor Breaks Rank, a short mellow invitation with drama in its heart and touch as Walker’s ever resourceful vocal mix rises within a guitar nurtured weave. It is the opening breath to next up Moonphase Bloom, and outstanding track which helped spark anticipation for the album with its release as a single last year. A virulently infectious and lively slice of pop rock as tempting when it is a melodic smoulder or a rousing rocker, the track just draws ears into the sound and imagination of Walker like a magnet; its success as a single pure evidence.

Old Moods follows, it too a bouncy proposal with emotion lining every melody and word, adventure each twist and turn. Almost fiery in its eruptions and firmly mesmeric in its melancholic calms, the song is a skilfully woven clamour drawing on a host of pop and indie flavours with subtlety and open hunger before A Reformatted Heart goes off on its own catchy stroll wrapped in melodic intimation.

Already four tracks in and Dear Absentee Creator showed a feistier character and contagion of sound compared to its predecessor with the same calm elegance and lively imagination which helped the first album stand out. It has a roar to it which just incites attention even as in next up Ryukyu Kingdom Declares Independence, a song which ebbs and flows in intensity almost reflecting from a standstill at times as Walker croons throughout with a gentle touch.

Similarly Ironed Shirts bounces along with a mercurial gait, every move inviting a willing body to match its changeable energy, the imagination bound in its expectations escaping invention, while Dallas Knows the Reason just enthrals from its emotive harmonic gaze to its voracious rock explosions. The grumble of the bass is irresistible, the flames of guitar compelling as the track seduces, lulls into false safety, and preys on ears and thoughts with its tenacious sound around a tale of a gun-wielding girl from Texas.

The piano led, metronomic tease of the following Clock Hand Reversal is just as richly enticing, that clever bait opening up a tenacious shimmer of melody and harmony with a volatile underbelly which springs up again and again to add to the track’s captivation.

The fuzzy pop ‘n’ roll of Satoshi Nakamoto vs Unyielding Desire for BAU is a quick match in wrapping up ears and appetite in its creative tapestry, the melodic senses entangling of Gush just as charismatic and increasingly gripping before Kimobetsu Love brings the album to a fine conclusion. A song which blossomed over plays rather than making the immediate impact of some of its companions, it epitomises the imaginative and arresting not forgetting perpetually enticing sound of Astral Cloud Ashes.

It is increasingly impossible to compare the band’s sound to others such its growing uniqueness but imagine a pinch of House Of Love intimacy, a slither of Weezer infectiousness, and an infusion of XTC melodic imagination all blended together in a Tubelord fired mortar and you get an idea of the creative breath and pop rock fun of Astral Cloud Ashes.

Dear Absentee Creator is out now across major online stores and

https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/album/dear-absentee-creator

https://www.facebook.com/astralcloudashes/   https://twitter.com/AstralCloudAsh

Pete RingMaster 26/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

SixTwoSeven – Some Other’s Day EP

You cannot just make up real rock ‘n’ roll; it is in the heart as evidenced by Seattle alternative rock outfit SixTwoSeven. You just know it is an instinct in the quartet as their debut EP, Some Other’s Day rumbles through ears to arouse the spirit across four riotous tracks.

Formed in 2016, SixTwoSeven consists of vocalist/lead guitarist Greg “illfunk” Bilderback, his brothers in drummer Matt aka “the Machine” and guitarist Jason aka “J Danger”, and longtime friend Mike “MK Ultra” Knapp. This line-up was actually completed during the recording of Some Other’s Day with producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden) at Soundhouse Studios, Matt coming in for backing vocals and leaving as a fully-fledged member of SixTwoSeven.

The EP itself opens up with One Single Night, instantly luring ears with a dirty riff soon joined by Greg’s grumbling tones. Bass and drums quickly add their moody touches as infectiousness infests all aspects of the emerging track. The song’s swagger is right there grabbing body and spirit, the creative flames of guitar luring the imagination deeper into its own increasingly magnetic prowess. Altogether it is a masterful persuasion and quickly matched by successor Wreckless Soul. It too has a certain confidence in its gait and swing, vocals a lighter invitation in the grungier nature of the song but loaded with the same catchiness as the hooks and riffs flirting boldly alongside.

Joshua’s Song has a calmer personality which its melodic imagination exploits with emotion and invention. The harmonic blend across the band brings extra light to the song and the SixTwoSeven sound, the band showing the variety in their creativity. Admittedly, the song did not quite light the excitement as its companions but it certainly left a strong air of satisfaction before the EP’s best track brings things to a mighty close.

An aggressive slice of punk fuelled rock ‘n’ roll, Top of the World is a virulently contagious incitement which has body and emotions bouncing in quick time. It snarls and entices, prowls and stomps with attitude and zeal ensuring listener involvement is hooked in no time. One of the reasons maybe that the band has been compared to the Weezer and Foo Fighters, the track alone makes SixTwoSeven a prospect to keep a close ear upon; a thought more than reinforced by Some Other’s Day as a whole.

Some Other’s Day is available now @ https://sixtwoseven.bandcamp.com/album/some-others-day

https://www.dubsevenrecords.com/    https://www.facebook.com/SixTwoSeven627

Pete RingMaster 17/10/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Smidley – Self Titled

Photo Credit Hayden

Named after his sadly departed “beloved black lab mutt”, Smidley is the new solo project of Foxing vocalist Conor Murphy. It is an adventure which sees the singer move away from the more intense post rock/dark ambient pastures of the St Louis band to explore lighter climates of indie pop infused alternative/psych rock but lyrically continue his ability to immerse the listener in the heart of songs which on his debut self-titled album either wear an almost mischievous grin or share the richest shadows of emotions. The result is a release which personally captivates far more eagerly and memorably than his day job and leaves the imagination basking in the fusion of melancholy and joy.

Talking about the album, Murphy announced its making as “…the greatest time I’ve ever had making, recording or playing music in my life,” going on to say “I tried to eliminate any expectations for this record and focused entirely on having a good time with it.” Listening to the ten tracks making up the album, it is easy to hear that care free emotion and energy, each song seeming to have a smile on its creative face whether romping with ears or sharing their more intensely intimate moments.

Featuring a handful of Murphy’s friends with saxophonist Cameron Boucher from Sorority Noise, Tigers Jaw’s guitarist Ben Walsh, and drummer Eric Slick of Dr Dog and Lithuania fame amongst them, the Joe Reinhart produced and mixed album opens up with the feisty exploits of Hell. Within its first couple of breaths, it is energetically strolling through ears with bold beats and a great bulbous bassline courting a bubbling of steely riffs and hooks; Murphy’s distinct melodic tones casting their warm caresses across it all. The track’s canter seems to grow more tenacious as brass and melodies weave their sultry patterns across the swiftly engaging slice of inescapably infectious pop rock.

The excellent start is continued and escalated by successor No One Likes You; it’s almost teasing web of cheeky hooks and quaint melodies irresistible with their Buzzcocks meets Weezer like character and virulent catchiness. With more creatively shiny things to induce raw lust and a greedy appetite than found in a diamond mine, the song is pure captivation working its flirtation up to the end when Dead Retrievers tries to stake its claim on the imagination. Its success is not slow in coming either, its more stable strums and calm exterior highly persuasive as it leads ears into a more tempestuous yet still composed blaze of multi-flavoured enterprise, Murphy again steering things with his emotive expression and thought catching words.

It’s more surly body and increasingly fiery climate easily hits the spot before the melodic kiss of Nothing’ll warms up ears and enjoyment; voice and guitar a bare reflection subsequently joined by the warm sighs of sax and the heavier, more hearty saunter of bass and beats. The song is a prime example of the melancholy and hope as well as contentment shaping the release, the latter hues more prevalent within the swinging dynamics and virile indie pop of Pink Gallo. Its intoxicating aroma of psych pop and volatile shoegaze is instinctively compelling, increasing its lure as more volatile textures and flavours erupt across its wonderfully mercurial landscape.

The outstanding Fuck This brings a temptation bred in the infectious inspirations of something akin to The Jam inflamed with Murphy’s own personal devouring of numerous strains of rock ‘n’ roll while It Doesn’t Tear Me Up is an acoustic exhalation laying on ears and heart like a fresh morning dew bred from previous harsh impacts but sharing the dawn of new hopes and adventures. Both tracks simply beguile in their differing ways as too Power Word Kill with its contagion of rock pop; harmonies and melodies rivalling hooks and driving rhythms in seduction and manipulation.

The album closes with the twin acoustic led and emotional contemplations of Milkshake and Under The Table, two tracks which smouldered in their persuasion rather than commanded quick and forceful attention but reached the same height of temptation over time. The honesty to both tracks is as gripping as their sounds and invention, providing the release with a powerful and compelling end.

Also featuring the craft of guitarists Jon Heredia, Dominic Angelella, and Joe Reinhart alongside that of bassist Tyler Long, and percussionist Ricardo Lagomisino, the Smidley album is an instant joy which truly just gets bigger and better with every outing.

The Smidley album is out now through Triple Crown Records and available @ https://smidley.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/smidleymurphy/

Pete RingMaster 03/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Introducing Reverse Family

RF_RingMasterReview

Ever had that dream where an insect invades the ear and sets up home to mercilessly tease and torment thereon in? If so, a form of similar reality is about to be unleashed as the Reverse Family step forward to announce themselves with a sound which trespasses and festers in the psyche. The difference is that this is set to be the most welcome invasion of ears as it crawls with relish into the imagination.

Reverse Family is the solo project of Walmington-on-Sea resident Dermot Illogical, better known as Andreas Vanderbraindrain, the frontman of British band The Tuesday Club. Aided by a fluid band of collaborators from time to time, the new offering from Dermot is a lo-fi exploration into an experimental DIY web of sounds and flavours which is hard to pin down but certainly embraces everything from post punk and noise pop to indie and old school punk.

The RingMaster Review had the honour and pleasure to be the first to hear the tracks set to make up My Songs About Life Mid Crisis, the debut album from Reverse Family which is not due until next year through Perfect Pop Co-op but makes the ideal introduction to the new proposition so we thought we would share our findings within its dementedly addictive lures.

The first song we came up against was Alchopoppers on Fast Food, a brief and gentle yet deviously engaging song which instantly entices thoughts of seventies bands like Swell Maps and The Shapes but with the melodic natures of The Freshies. It is captivating stuff even with a drop into calmer waters which does not quite connect with personal tastes. We are not sure of the album’s track order but if this is to be the opener it provides a potent start though the brilliant Way It Goes is an even bigger pull. Carrying an early Adam and The Ants feel to its magnetic stroll, the song is pure addiction with a funk revelry bubbling under its pop punk surface, Dermot as vocally mischievous as the guitar led sounds around him.

art_RingMasterReviewThere is great variety to the songs too; Bit Slits for example flirting with the senses through keys which manage to sound like the brass flames of Essential Logic while guitar and vocals veer towards the Nikki Sudden school of discord blessed minimalistic seduction while Electronic 6 entangles portentous keys and winy guitars with fuzzy vocals for a Dalek I Love You/Artery scented melancholy. It is fair to say that Dermot wears influences openly yet each song develops its own distinct character under often familiar hues.

Hand of God has a darker and meatier nature to its predacious swing, contagious hooks and a great grumbling bassline aligning with melodic enterprise for a proposal which swiftly grips ears and appetite; a success just as easily won by the lively pop bounce of One Eyed, a seemingly early Television Personalities seeded encounter and the hypnotic I Can Sense Their Watching Eyes. This too has a flavour of Dirk Wears White Sox to it but with funky beats and another irresistible post punk guitar jangle in its off kilter dub teased shuffle, the track blossoming into another unique proposition within My Songs About Life Mid Crisis.

Other tracks in the mix are Business or Pleasure, a delicious song which sounds like Weezer soaping The Piranhas while recording it all in the bath, The Legend of Pierre with its haunting keys wrapped sultry croon, and Odd Mix Newgates, a seductive magnetic monotone tone spawned track surely inspired by Mark E. Smith.

The collection of tracks are completed by Higher Power with plaintive melodies and dour yet emotionally suggestive vocals and the outstanding May Number 10 Dream which again hints at bands like The Fall, Marc Riley and The Creepers, and The Mekons, as well as the criminally catchy Sods Law. Hips and feet beware as even in its low key nature it will have you swinging in an instant.

There are so many highlights offered by the Reverse Family songs; each track connecting with an ever eager hunger for punk fuelled, post punk spiced imagination. Plastic Punks epitomises this perfectly, its Fire Engines toned melodic jangle and Spizzenergi devilry sheer temptation again emerging as something specific to Reverse Family.

With a tongue in cheek lining to the lyrical reflection shaping songs which spreads into the music itself, Reverse Family is a beguiling adventure with a nod to the past and a grip on an imagination as fresh as it is, well quite simply a touch loco.

As mentioned My Songs About Life Mid Crisis is due for release next April but it is never too soon to get into something this craftily tasty.

http://reversefamily.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/reversefamily/

Pete RingMaster 07/11/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Hello Bear – I Don’t Know… It’s Fun Though, Isn’t It?

hello-bear-promo-shot_RingMasterReview

A trap waiting to grab your imagination and energy, I Don’t Know… It’s Fun Though, Isn’t It? more than lives up to its title with its bouncy persona and rousing spirit. The new EP from British quartet Hello Bear, the four-track stomp is a sparkling burst of power/punk pop which may not carry major surprises but is as fresh and vibrant as anything escaping the year so far.

Formed in 2010, the Norwich bred band take inspiration found in the likes of Weezer, Pavement, Los Campesinos!, Refused, The Bronx, Presidents of the USA, McFly, Johnny Foreigner, and Dananananaykroyd into their own highly flavoursome exploits. Invigorating as a live presence which has seen Hello Bear play with bands such as Los Campesinos, Coasts, Darwin Deez, The Futureheads, and The King Blues, their sound is an ear grabber which now refuses to be ignored within the band’s new offering. The press release accompanying the EP suggests it carries “their most exciting material to date.” Being our introduction to Hello Bear it is hard to confirm or argue, but exciting the Lee Batiuk (Deaf Havana, Trash Boat, Hopeless Records) produced release is and relentlessly enjoyable.

I Don’t Know… It’s Fun Though, Isn’t It? opens up with new single We Held Hands Once, But Then She Got Embarrassed, the collective energy and enterprise of Luke Bear (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Mary Bear (guitar), Tom Bear (bass), and Daryl Bear (drums) hitting the floor running. A lone strum entices first being quickly joined by the potent tones of Luke before the song jumps on ears with eager riffs and canny rhythms. In no time it is into an infectious stroll with hooks and melodies uniting to charm attention before brewing and finally expelling a virulent contagion through its irresistible chorus. There is no escaping joining those offering Blink 182 meets Weezer as a reference for the tenaciously lively sound of song and band; add a touch of Super Happy Fun Club and The All-American Rejects though and the mix is even closer to the rousing incitement.

hello-bear-cover-artwork_RingMasterReviewThe following Mmm Cheque Please! makes a just as striking entrance, another single strain of guitar bait making the first lure, rampant beats and Luke’s inviting vocals the next  before it all blooms into another infectious canter. Daryl’s beats resonate as they land and Tom’s basslines grumble as much as they seduce while Mary and Luke share a tapestry of hooks and melodic endeavour which only leads to a greater appetite for song and release. Admittedly the track lacks the final spark which ignites its predecessor but leaves pleasure bubbling eagerly as does Dirty Weekend with its more restrained but wholly magnetic presence. Repeating a prowess which confirms Hello Bear masterful at creating big choruses and ripe hooks which simply infest the psyche, the song lays lustfully upon the senses.

The EP ends as its starts with a track which just whips up the passions. Attack Hug Influences is addiction for the ears, a slice of rock pop which seizes hold of body and spirit in a breathless romp complete with spicy hooks, tenacious rhythms, and a vocal coaxing which virtually forces listener involvement.

It is a boisterous end to a release which demands a party is woven around its presence each and every time. No moments of major uniqueness, all irresistible fun fuelled ingenuity; that is I Don’t Know… It’s Fun Though, Isn’t It?, one of the most enjoyable adventures this year.

I Don’t Know… It’s Fun Though, Isn’t It? is released November 11th

http://www.hellobear.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/hellobear/    https://twitter.com/hellobearband

Pete RingMaster 08/11/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Asylums – Killer Brain Waves

Photo by the Cool Thing Records sparkplug Kana Waiwaiku

Photo by the Cool Thing Records sparkplug Kana Waiwaiku

Amongst the most highly anticipated releases this year here in the office, maybe the most eagerly awaited was the debut album from UK sonic punksters Asylums. Having been hooked on the Southend-on-Sea hailing quartet’s frenetic and devilish jangle since being infested by Wet Dream Fanzine EP within the first throes of 2015, a more than keen and impatient appetite has been brewing and now we can say it has been well worth the hours pacing the floor waiting for Killer Brain Waves.

Taking a snap at any and everything with a mischievous smile on their creative faces, band and release is the kind of sonic devilment ears and music were evolved for. Offering twelve tracks which flirt and bite, tease and seduce, with an imagination and eccentricity found in Bedlam, Killer Brain Waves announces Asylums as one of music’s most essential and even more so irresistibly thrilling propositions. It is a collection of songs within which sarcasm and discontent are frequent visitors as too a virulent dose of humour and fun driven imagination. Musically, Asylums recall in heart and enterprise the likes of Swell Maps, The Dickies, and Supergrass. At times essences also remind of bands such as Weezer and We Are The Physics but as shown a dozen times over, all are hues in a devilry uniquely Asylums.

art_RingMasterReviewMixing a handful of treats from their previous EPs/singles with new slices of angular revelry, the foursome of vocalist/guitarist Luke Branch, guitarist Jazz Miell, drummer Henry Tyler, and bassist Michael Webster open up Killer Brain Waves with the mighty Second Class Sex. Its first breath brings a senses swamping tide of meaty rhythms and nagging riffs engaged in a toxicity of sound which simply infests the psyche. Though its spreads its body into a more expansive tempting, that energy never diminishes. Webster’s bass groans and growls in ears; a great lure matched by the swinging intent of Tyler as the swirling sonic seduction of the guitars lay their trap. With vocals just as potent and a touch of White Noise era XTC to the mix, it is a stunning start to the release, and one not losing a beat as I’ve Seen Your Face In a Music Magazine steps up next.

The second track is just as eager to invade body and thoughts, using a lower gear energy wise as a spicy wiry groove entangles ears and rhythms cast in another rousing and pulsating enticement. Melody and discord court the outstanding tone and delivery of Branch, each adding to the glorious trespass with a tangy hook just icing on the cake. New wave meets pop punk to give some clue to its ingenuity, the song departs so Joy In a Small Wage can share its ‘mellower’ charms. The track almost floats over the listener, keys washing its path though equally there is a darker edge in tone and another beguiling bassline to keep song and ears on their toes. That Weezer reference is arguably at its most potent here but again the result is, within a near perfect pop song, something belonging only to one band.

Bad Influence rumbles as it croons next, plaintive vocals and dirty riffs aligning with a heavy bass enticing to create another epidemic of swinging enterprise before the even more magnificent Wet Dream Fanzine leaps in. It is impossible not to join in with every Asylums song, and especially with this gem. Hips and instincts are grabbed straight away by the opening hook and swinging rhythms, vocal chords soon after as Branch leads a jangle of rhythmic agitation and funk infested bouncing clad in another fiercely tantalising weave of Miell’s sonic invention. A favourite since its appearance on that same named EP last year, the song continues to ignite tingles; as too the following The Death of Television. A nest of sonic vipers and stabbing beats, all with rebellious intent in their hearts, the song is one minute and twenty six seconds of creative agitation demanding similarly off kilter movement and involvement in return for its rare incitement.

The heavy punk ‘n’ roll of Monosyllabic Saliva comes next, its body a prowling beast tempered perfectly by the harmonic quality of Branch’s voice. Fuzzy with a thick feel to its atmosphere, the track is a brooding slice of pop rock veined by the ever insistent grooves and sonic tendrils escaping the guitars. Its dark tone is contrasted by the pop punk saunter of Born To Not Belong, a song which feels like it’s an already known friend as it makes its first proposal but simultaneously adds another string to the albums creative harp.

Necessary Appliances soon has ears greedy, the song twisting and turning with a more conservative sound compared to its companions but still unveiling a tapestry of imagination fuelled endeavour before Sunday Commuters and Missing Persons keep the thrills going. The first of the pair is another more controlled slice of pop rock with great sixties inspired harmonies taking the listener on a stroll of excitable rhythms and fuzz lined tempting while the second seduces with its Weezer/Supergrass hued canter around another commanding bassline and crisply landed beats.

The album closes with the outstanding punk raw challenge of Slacker Shopper, a grouchy and thickly aired proposal which as so many just hits the spot. The band’s most aggressive and irritable offering yet, it is a brilliant end to Killer Brain Waves providing a final new shade to their sound and invention, one we hope to hear more of. There is also a hidden track which we will call Butterfly just because the word is repeated most often. It too shows a fresh side to the Asylums sound; imagine the Beach Boys or Walker Brothers doing shoegaze and you get a hint of the great extra gift within the album.

We expected good things from Asylums with Killer Brain Waves but the album simply out does any expectations with ease. For fans and newcomers, Asylums and their first full-length are simply a must.

Killer Brain Waves is our now via Cool Thing Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/killer-brain-waves/id1105949093 and other stores.

http://www.asylumsband.com   https://www.facebook.com/asylumsuk   https://twitter.com/Asylumsband

Pete RingMaster 24/08/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes – Too Close to the Noise Floor

Album Art_RingMasterReview

With three attention grabbing and imagination sparking singles under the belt, Astral Cloud Ashes unveil debut album Too Close to the Noise Floor. It is a collection of songs which arouse and serenade the senses, often simultaneously as the project’s mesmeric songwriting and emotive melodic elegance seduces.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the new project of Jersey bred songwriter/musician Antony Walker, previously better known as one half of the Channel Islands hailing Select All Delete Save As. Having already created music under the name ALPA, amongst other monikers, Walker quickly sparked attention to his latest project last year with first single Too Close To The Noise Floor, the now title track to the new album. Primarily a solo project but with backing vocalist Jason Neil a permanent fixture in the band, Astral Cloud Ashes draws on inspirations ranging from The Cure, Bloc Party, Interpol, At the Drive In, Mars Volta, and Say Anything as well as flavours bred in indie and alternative rock/pop. Equally though, the album shows bold ventures into more progressive and post rock pastures without losing the instinctive catchiness and melodic romancing found in those earlier propositions.

Mixed across its tracks by Gareth [The Fold], Edd HartwellPaul Miles, Daniel Szanto,  and Walker himself, with the mastering undertaken by Tim Turan, Too Close to the Noise Floor opens with The Man I Had To Become. Instantly a temptation of bubbling guitar captures ears, the coaxing quickly joined by a wave of rhythmic jabbing and a thicker weave of melodic guitar and harmonious vocals. It is a gentle yet boisterous affair easily whipping up the imagination and spirit with Walker’s distinctive tones the mellow flame within a more combustible web of enterprise. It is a great mix which marked those early singles but already seems to have blossomed within the album into a more adventurous and confident entangling of the listener.

The great start is followed by the album’s title track, Too Close to the Noise Floor showing a rawer, more imposing energy as it takes the imagination into the intimacy and adventure of cosmonautics but equally involves “family values and unwanted first-world paranoia” in its energetically hugged theme. Punching its rhythmic and contagious essences home, it also carries a hazy climate to its atmosphere with the bass a deliciously throaty lure amongst nothing but virulent temptation. Embracing a XTC feel and Melvins like revelry, the track has body and appetite eagerly involved in swift time.

Grateful for the Ghost In Our House steps forward next and as the last track showed a more formidable presence to its predecessor, this song reveals a fiercer predation to its opening and subsequent invention within another wash of suggestive melodies and smouldering dynamics. Though not in the actual sound, it is easy to see where an influence of The Cure comes into play, Walker creating an emotional and musical drama which has the senses riding a roller coaster.

Recent single Get Real follows, strolling along with the ever present catchiness which Walker conjures with seeming ease across every track. Guitars pop and bubble throughout the song as rhythmic tenacity creating an anthemic frame to the vocal and melodic ingenuity before Flashback takes over. A calmer and mellower engagement but even more emotively forceful, the song caresses ears with a lone guitar melody before being joined by a heavily shadowed bassline aligned to a broader floating melodic enterprise. Vocally, Walker provides an introspective narrative as provocative as the poetic almost volcanic fuzziness of his guitar. Adding another individual shade and hue to the album, the track shows the broader landscape of Walker’s songwriting and an intimacy, whether personal or observational, which fuels his words.

With drummer Max Saidi guesting, Avant Blah! strolls boldly in next, its lo-fi pop ‘n’ roll blending Weezer infection with Pavement-esque invention while its successor Lites almost lumbers into view in comparison with the brooding bass and irritable riffs to the fore. In all songs there is a great repetitious quality brewed by Walker, here almost coming over drone like to great effect around the solemn melody and the similarly melancholic vocals. As it expands though, a wave of rich textures and rousing energies flood the song, returning throughout the low-key yet thickly enjoyable, almost imposing encounter.

The excellent This Once Great Place has an air of The Cure again with its atmospheric landscape, reminding of the A Forest/Pornography era of the trio across its own captivating journey before the equally impressive Housing in a Bubble makes a grab for best track with its more punkish/grungy roar of sound. Everything about it has a snarl not heard on the album previously; revealing more of the diversity the release carries whilst stirring up a fresh greed in ears and pleasure.

Our Holiday brings Too Close to the Noise Floor to a sombre and enthralling close, the track initially a dark sigh but soon building its own catchy canter loaded with spiky hooks and spicy melodies around another slightly foreboding and compelling bassline. Once more thoughts of Robert Smith and co are sparked but again as a flavour in something individual to Astral Cloud Ashes. It is a riveting end to a striking and increasingly impressive first album from Walker.

The clues to the project’s potential were there in its first trio of singles, and now confirmed and partly realised by Too Close to the Noise Floor. The feeling is that there is plenty more to come and to be explored within that promise, and going by the strength of this thoroughly enjoyable offering, we are all in for many treats ahead.

Too Close to the Noise Floor is released July 11th @ http://apple.co/1RFvoL8

https://www.facebook.com/astralcloudashes   https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/   https://twitter.com/AstralCloudAsh

Pete RingMaster 08/07/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright