In this update we feature:
• Coma Wall – Ursa Minor [EP]
• An Apparition – An Apparition [EP]
• Anthroprophh – Toilet Circuit [EP]
• SEIMS – 3 + 3.1
• Tangents – Risk Reaps Rewards
• Woomera – Caustics Of A Tidal Spirit
• Lucynine – Tribute To Titor [EP]
As their Bandcamp page states, Coma Wall are the acoustic alter-ego of Undersmile. I was very late to the party when it came to Undersmile, being unaware of them until their reformation gig at 10 Years of Chaos earlier this year (which feels now like a lifetime ago). Undersmile so impressed me that I sought them out on Bandcamp. One of their previous releases, Wood & Wire was my first experience with this other side of Undersmile, known as Coma Wall. I was keen to hear more, though I was unsure whether I would. But here is more – though admittedly while released this year, it is material from years ago. However, now that Coma Wall has their own Bandcamp page, I am hopeful this means there will be new music soon!
As for this new, old, music – it’s fabulous. It’s raw, and basic, but that just makes it sound pure and honest. There’s a striking potency and power to music which is so delicate in comparison to the music of Undersmile. It’s not as polished as the Coma Wall material on Wood & Wire, but it’s no less beautiful. After all, despite the rhythm section of Olly and Tom in both bands, what is always most in your face is the twin vocal and guitar attack of Taz and Hel. Their harmonies are deliciously dark and doomy. This acoustic side of Undersmile may seem less abrasive, but appearances can deceive. The music may not be so loud, but it’s just as heavy.
I admit I was drawn to this release more by the cover art than anything else. I’d never heard of this band before, though I am familiar with some of the other artists on this label. The tags intrigued and concerned me, as I was not convinced how the combination was going to work for me. I can definitely confirm that my suspicions were correct, and if this band were instrumental I’d probably love them, but the vocals just spoil it for me. However, I’m well aware this is a personal thing, and purely down to subjective preference. I am absolutely sure that among those who enjoy hardcore vocals, this will go down a treat. Centrifugal is by far my favourite track on the EP, as it’s length means there are long passages without vocals, as well as plenty of time and space to make this an expansive piece full of changes that surprise and occasionally delight.
Centrifugal really makes me wish the band would try and expand more of their songs. The following Deception Island, for example, I actually quite like (in spite of the vocals), and if it were of a greater length, I can imagine all sorts of places the band could take it. There is a huge amount of potential in that track, and I guess, in all three of the shorter tracks, that seems to pass by without being fully utilised. Ultimately, this makes it a frustrating release for me, as I like all the music, and am left wanting more – yet the vocals remain a fairly large stumbling block. However, as aforementioned, I’m well aware that there are plenty of people out there who enjoy this style of vocals, which means this EP should go down a treat with them!
For a band tagged post-punk on Bandcamp, the initial impression is that there’s an awful lot of punk, and not a lot of post. But that question is soon answered, and I really should have known better. This is, after all, released on Rocket, who have a proven record for releasing glorious and eclectic squalls of noise – and that is exactly what this turns out to be. There’s no denying the Krautrock tag that appears on Bandcamp either. I bet these guys are incredible to see play live! And though the playing of all is electric, eclectic, enveloping, and engaging, Paul Allen’s guitar playing is absolutely the star for me – reminding me of a strange and wonderful mix of Robert Fripp and David Mitchell, with perhaps a soupçon of Jimi Hendrix. (Given there is a good chance Allen has not heard of Mitchell, any resemblance there is probably down to shared influences – but damn, I’m reminded a lot more David Mitchell than any other guitar player.)
This is definitely post-punk, and not punk. It’s a heavy and heady psych delight and it’s simply bloody awesome. Even the coda to the title track – which I won’t spoil for you by describing. It all ends too soon, and that is the only criticism I can give. I want more! Luckily for me, I’d not discovered this band until now, so I have Omegaville to take the strain off my desire. But, to be honest, even if only this EP existed, I could listen to it on repeat for quite some time without getting bored. There is an awful lot going on in the music of Anthroprophh, and it’s definitely worthy of repeat listens!
3 was one of my favourite releases from 2017, and 3.1 was one of my favourite releases from last year. The two have been packaged and released together this year, with the just added attraction of a new version of Translucence. (While 3 + 3.1 was released in April this year, the new version of Translucence was added to the release only towards the end of August.) Translucence (arranged for two basses) is a sumptuous and symphonic take on the original track, and hopefully will be available to purchase in its own right, as I feel it may unfortunately be overlooked otherwise, by those who already own 3 and 3.1 (or, indeed, 3 + 3.1).
For those unaware of the concept of 3 and 3.1, it’s an interesting one, indeed. The first release sets out to create pieces to express musically the three colours of the CYMK colour model, and then to take from each of these three to create the Imperfect Black. The result is one of my favourite math rock albums of all time, augmented with some fabulous brass and strings, and (on the final track) the vocals of Wartime Sweethearts’ Louise Nutting. The follow-up EP takes on Absolute Black. Simeon Bartholomew “thought it’d be fun to do an acoustic version of Translucence. Live, this song gets really heavy, but playing it at home on my own, it becomes quite pretty and beautiful. As a bassist, I thought let’s keep it non-traditional (much like the rest of our music) and rearrange the song for my Bass VI, and a cello.”
The cello which features on the new interpretation of SEIMS’ Translucence is played by Peter Hollo, of Tangents. I’d not heard of this band previously, and with a new release coming out in September this year, I thought I’d check out their previous release (from July). My first impression is that this is a slightly avant-garde GoGo Penguin. I love GoGo Penguin, but I now love Tangents even more! They take the Nu Jazz format and tear it up, with the non-standard percussion and strings. At times it’s closer to Broken Beat than Nu Jazz, but it really is neither, cherry picking the elements it wants from each, and adding them to its own (bitches) brew. This is my favourite find from this latest batch array of different aspects. Brilliant. Magnificent. Any other superlative you can come up with, I’m happy to bestow upon this beauty.
I was going to write my own description, but nothing expresses the spontaneity and chaos of this recording better than the band’s own description on Bandcamp: “With the radio live room unavailable that day, the quintet jammed themselves into the studio room and sprawled their kit across the limited desk space: Peter Hollo’s cello bow poking Adrian Lim-Klumpes in the eye, who in turn bashed at a MIDI piano while pinned against Sia Ahmad and her guitar. A mono mic was loosely poised over Evan Dorrian’s cut-down tabletop kit, cymbals and a snare strewn over available desk space, as Ollie Bown lurked in the only remaining corner of the room, hunched over a laptop with lid half open, trying his best to control the headphone mix whilst triggering clips. Presenter John Bailey cued the band and ducked for cover.”
With a band name like that, I assumed this was another Australian band. But no, they’re from Germany, and a quite lovely racket they make. They claim to take elements from post rock and progressive metal, and I wasn’t sure what that meant. I guess, if anything they remind me of a fair few Aussie prog bands (perhaps that is why they took their name, if these were their influences?), with their mix of djenty TesseracT sounds, and more Tool-like metal aspects. I’m sure I won’t be the first, for example, to make a comparison with Karnivool. The band seem more math rock than post rock to me, but I guess I can see where they are coming from when they use that descriptor.
The rhythm section is suitably impressive, and often steal the show. I really quite enjoy the clean vocals, though am not such of a fan of the harsh vocals (which thankfully are few and far between). Much of the time, the guitar seems to serve as ornamentation and decoration, rather than providing any great substance, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, when it’s done well, it’s a very good thing. Think Adam Jones of Tool, for example. The guitar may not be flashy, nor seem to be incorporating as much to the sound as the rhythm section, but it’s clearly just as important. The whole of Woomera is very much definitely greater than the sum of their parts (cliché, but true), and this is a mightily impressive whole. Only my new found love for Tangents stops this from being top of the pops from this assortment. And Woomera definitely come a very close second!
Lucynine’s album, Amor Venenat, really impressed me this year. It was a release I was not really expecting to even like, and yet it has become a contender for my favourite release of the year. Definitely a perfect example of why one should sometimes take on for review releases that might be out of one’s comfort zone. I decided to go back and check out the two previous EPs released under the Lucynine name: 2013’s Chronicles From Leri, and this year’s Tribute to Titor. The 2013 release is super, but Tribute to Titor reveals only to me that Titor may be one of Sergio Bertani’s favourite local bands, but I’m unlikely to share that affection.
The second cover of the two presented on this release, 999, was easier on my ears, and there’s even a chance with repeated listens I would like it more. Maybe. The thing is, I’m not sure I want to, or even need to. I like Lucynine for its own music, rather than its interpretation of others. Even though I enjoy the Type O Negative cover on Amor Venenat, if I were to rank the tracks on that album from my most to least favourite, Everyone I Love Is Dead would come near the bottom. As I said in my review of that album, that cover was a little too consistent – when what I’ve found I love about Lucynine is the surprisingly natural flow of inconsistency. These tributes to Titor, too, are just a little too consistent for me. Not unenjoyable, but rather uninspiring.