The Toronto-based electronic duo North Atlantic Drift describes their musical goal for Departures Vol. 1 as “trying to get at a certain sound we adore- a simplified ambient drone garnished with static and texture, stretched and given tension with string-like timbres.”
In this hauntingly beautiful and minimalist record, that goal is absolutely accomplished. Throughout Departures Vol. 1 you are given a small set of melodic lines, instruments, and effects to create an audio landscape of sorts. In many ways this landscape is hard to put into words, but one of the videos (found below) for this album give a good visual representation.
There is beauty and darkness. These two intersecting aesthetics are without a doubt the most intriguing components to this record. Without a doubt it is what makes it worth listening to.
Get Departures Vol. 1 at https://polarseasrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/departures-vol-1
The music of London-based wombat_army (real name Martin Webb) has had a welcome presence at MixolydianBlog for quite some time. As far as electronic artists go, wombat_army is probably one of my favorites in the past decade. You can imagine my excitement when I was sent the link to his newest record circling.
Present in circling is the signature looping effects and melodic lines that come from electronic sampling, synths, and of course cello we know wombat_army for. The minimalism in this record is used as well as ever, with beautiful melodies being placed over a myriad of rhythms and sound effects.
You can tell that wombat_army has gotten more adventurous on this record, as it feels more experimental than previous endeavors. For me this is a great step forward and I hope Martin continues in this direction. The music is a journey that is enjoyable from beginning to end.
Get your copy of circling at https://assemblyfield.bandcamp.com/album/circling
The Right Now is a pop/soul band out of Chi-Town consisting of Stefanie Berecz (vocals), Brendan O’Connell (keyboards), Chris Corsale (guitar), Jim Schram (tenor sax), Lucas Gillan (drums), Greg Nergaard (bass) and Caleb Mitchell (trumpet). In their most recent record Starlight they have sought to push “out from their traditional soul-revivalist mode” that they have become known for.
The soul roots are undoubtedly a part of the sound on this record, especially in the vocals of Berecz and the grooves of the rhythm section. There is, however, a contemporary sound that leaves you feeling the need to dance. There is such pure joy coming from the speakers as I write this, and it is great to find bands that have such an uplifting sound.
This is not a naive record, however, as a lot of the lyrical inspiration serves as a counterpoint to the current sociopolitical climate in the United States. As their press release states, The Right Now made songs “of a wider scope” with “politics and social issues, addiction and recovery” all interlocking with the infectious grooves and great melodic hooks.
The key thing to remember when listening to Starlight is that the name is indicitive of, as lead vocalist Stefanie Berecz puts it, “something that connects and unifies everyone on this planet, regardless of all the perceived differences that we may have.”
It helps when you made a great record to bond with your fellow humans over.
Get Starlight at https://www.therightnow.com/store?category=Starlight
As music makers we have many different approaches of creating our art. One path that some have opted for is the realm of spiritual practice. Music derived from this path can often be fascinating. Even to those not on a spiritual path there is great value in this music.
Enter the world that is the live recorded album The Landing Zone. Created by Ujjaya (aka Hery Randriambololona), a “French ethno-ambient musician with Malagasy roots,” this record is a calming injection of ambient music as well as ambient natural sounds. The record is a meditative journey through a vast number of instruments and beautiful looping arrangements.
Ujjaya came up with the inspiration for his music via “his yoga practice and of his travel through Asia for spiritual purposes.” I may be on a different spiritual path than Ujjaya, but I felt his music on more than just simply a cerebral level. It is an album that is more of an experience than it is a background music like ambient can sometimes become. I truly think there is something of value here for everyone.
The Landing Zone can be found at https://archive.org/details/eg0_162/04-JungleFever.mp3
COC aka City of Colors is a Polish experimental music project based out of Warsaw. Their newest release, Circumgyration, showed up in my email as a submission and I’m really glad that it did. The record explores various spheres of sonic expression. There are synths, samples reminiscent of early Steve Reich, glitch style beats, noise samples that give it a John Cage feel and melodies that interlock to create really beautiful parts. It is a very experimental record, but I think that even the more mainstream listener can enjoy aspects of Circumgyration.
If you like glich or ambient music, click on the Soundcloud link above to experience Circumgyration for yourself.
“Keep an eye out for Kennedy, he’s a man going places” – BBC Radio 1
Radio 1 in this case knows what they are talking about. As I listened to Welshman James Kennedy’s upcoming record Home, it became clear that he was a man with a strong artistic vision. Central to this record is the powerful nature of the song structure. The choruses soar and the verses are tinged with a driving force that calls you to listen intently.
Incidentally the core inspiration behind this record is, as Kennedy’s PR agency told me, his exploration of depression and utilizing the music as therapy. As a fellow sufferer of severe depression, I totally get this. And this understanding is helpful in looking at the record as more than just a collection of great songs.
The songs are powerful and can only come from a place that understands what darkness truly looks like. James Kennedy’s vocals are modern, refreshing, and ultimately an amalgamation of numerous stylistic influences (rock, soul, blues and pop). For me, James may very well be the Welsh Jeff Buckley, as his songwriting reminds me so much of the late, great performer.
Home is an uplifting journey for the listener and it reminds you to dust yourself off and keep pushing on in a hostile world.
Home can be pre-ordered at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/home/id1182038899
James Kennedy can be found at:
I don’t know how often I’ve said this on my site, but I consider Van Halen to be one of my all-time greatest musical influences. Those of you who know Van Halen likely know the reputation of the band to be rather notorious for having numerous lead singers.
Officially these singers are David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, and Gary Cherone. There is another singer that I only discovered recently, however, thanks to the beauty of YouTube. After listening to a demo from the Van Halen III sessions, I was recommended a video for a song called “It’s The Right Time” that was recorded by a brilliant singer named Mitch Malloy.
I was blown away that I had never, in all my years of being obsessed with this band, known of this guy! After Sammy was booted out of the band, Mitch was actually the guy on point to do a new record with the band. For various reasons, which are detailed in the video below, Mitch chose to leave the project.
After some correspondence with Mitch, who is a super chill dude, I decided to review his most recent record Making Noise. I gotta tell you folks, the first thing that comes to mind when listening to this album is KICK ASS. The songs are pure, high-adrenaline hard rock that have soaring melodies and brilliant musicianship.
The central point of the record is Mitch’s powerful voice. It’s no wonder why Eddie Van Halen told Mitch that he was the “best fucking singer” he’d ever heard. Malloy’s tone is pristine and also aggressive, and his range is simply mind-blowing.
The songs themselves leave you in a state of euphoria that good rock n’ roll should always create. You can hear the meticulous work that Mitch put into writing Making Noise and his attention to detail shows. The production is top notch and the instruments sound fantastic.
This record is so much more than simply Making Noise. It is a proclamation that rock is still alive and well, no matter what the radio DJs (or Gene Simmons) might be saying. You are left at the end of the album feeling so damn good and it is a high that only the best rock can give you.
Get this record if you value true rock n’ roll, you won’t be disappointed.
Get Making Noise at http://www.mitchmalloy.com