ORGAN: Five Music Things – Artist and sound designer Sam Slater, the space pop of The Keplerians, “noisy ass punk” band Brand Bland, Chicago’s Em Spel, New York metal duo Luminous Vault and…

The Five music things thing yet again for whatever it still might be worth. Five? There’s something rather compelling about five, cross-pollination? Five more? Five more while Death Pill hide in their basements and all we can really do is watch the social media feeds.

Do we need to do the editorial bit again? Is there another way? A cure for pulling cats out of hats? Is there a rhyme? Is there a reason? Was there ever? What do reasons make? Five more, same as last time (and the time before) five, and no, we never do and the proof of the pudding is in that proof reading. When we started this thing, oh never mind, it doesn’t matter and like we asked last time, does anyone bother reading the editorial? Does anyone ever actually look down the rabbit hole or is it all just method acting? We do listen to everything that comes in, we do it so you don’t have to, we are very (very) picky about what we actually post on these pages or play on the radio or hang in a gallery. Cut to the chase, never mind the editorial there’s loads of music further down the page, well five or so pieces of music that have come our way in the last few days and cut cut slash and cut to the damn chase, who needs an editorial? But, then as we said with the previous Five Music Thing feature a couple of days back, a page that also featured Death Pill (as did the five before that) that maybe this time we do need an editorial? I mean, Ukraine, just a land full of people making music, art, wanting to just live and go to gigs and hang out together and do the same thing most of us do, those of us who aren’t power crazed leaders…

Here’s your five pieces of music for today….

1: Sam Slater – “Sam Slater is an artist and sound designer based in Berlin. He’s worked closely with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson on films such as Darren Aronofsky’s ‘mother!’ and Mary Magdalene (w/ Hildur Guðnadóttir). Alongside his contributions to film music, Slater has garnered steam as a reputable producer and engineer, working alongside Ben Frost, Shapednoise, Mica Levi and Valgeir Sigurðsson” – well that’s the background, but what you really need is the rather beautiful music, the soothing gentle flow, the delicate strength of the composition, the painterly nature of it all.

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“When it came to the recording of ‘I Do Not Wish To Be Known As A Vandal’, Slater called on a number of creative forces. Recorded remotely, each musician would send a sound, some words, some creative parameters, and Slater would respond in turn. Hildur Guðnadóttir provided distinct Doro phone sounds, Yair Glotman played thunderous double-bass, and Hilary Jeffrey and Sam Dunscombe laid down woodwind and microtonal brass. In addition, Icelandic singer-songwriter JFDR delivered her intimate vocals and James Ginzburg (Emptyset) mixed it, with an ear for precise form. From his base in Berlin, Slater would flag the sounds he loved; some twitching strings, the stolen alto voice from an abandoned English chorale, some words from a climate scientist fleshed into a poem. It became an exercise in receptivity, in which openness itself became a creative voice, hushing Slater’s tendency to micromanage every detail. These interactions were pulled together into a single piece written for two sides of a single 12” vinyl; one side describing collapse (‘Darn!’) and the other, recovery (‘Kintsugi’). Influenced by the 70s concept prog records of his childhood, the album loops without ending, so you are never really allowed to rest in safety.

“Structurally the piece traces a recurrent mental image of mine in which a body is falling through space so slowly that I’m unsure if it is moving at all, while simultaneously and continually I’m anticipating the looming threat of bodily pain. Thankfully, also embedded in this movement is the anticipation of the inevitability of recovery. This ambiguous space between glacial-pace self-destruction and the potential of a return to one’s feet become two aspects of the same dynamic, and indeed, I feel that we are often suspended perilously close to both. Within these cycles of collapse and recovery, be they personal, systemic, global or political, my sense of powerlessness is offset by the hope that at least my own actions could be rooted in kindness – I do not wish to be known as a vandal.”

The album showcases the breadth of Slater’s range as composer and producer, transitioning through distinctly different spaces, from the glitchy, clipped intro, into Icelandic folktronica, into swathes of menacing string mutations and eerie, mournful woodwind. These vivid, four dimensional scenes conjure a bleak beauty and sense of purgatory akin to Clark’s ‘Playground In A Lake’, with JFDR‘s voice providing a more familiar sense of reassurance – something human to cling to amidst murky abstracts depths, where effects twist instruments into barely recognisable shapes”. 

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And now for a change of pace and….

2: The Keplerians – A slice of rather flowing slighly funky space pop rock that sounds like it fell to earth soemwhere around a youth club disco in 1979, “European EDM / dance pop outfit The Keplerians will be releasing their new ‘Spaceship Earth’ EP on March 25 via Portuguese label Blim Records 360. A futuristic ride into cosmic dance territory, this high-energy three-track offering is supercharged with punch, positivity and a sense of adventure. The Keplerians are RR 14-775 and RF 14-703, whose technology has allowed them to perform, produce and mix their own EP from their mothercraft in Lisbon, Portugal. EJ 21-983 and RA 17-004 due their earth-loving duty by contributing vocals” And seein as March 25th was a couple of days ago I guess the EP is out now, more via their Bandcamp.

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And while we’re here, wherever here is, a little bit more. We do mostly see this as an exercise in signposting these things and leaving you with the links.

3: Brand Bland – Now we haven’t heard anything from Brand Bland for sometime, we just noiticed they were playing a show with the mighty Child Abuse which in turn caused us to quickly check what they were doing. Here’s a video from last year from the self confessed “noisy ass punk” band. Brand Bland are from Pennsylvania, you can find a rather old rather wholesome album here as a free download thing.

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The show with Child Abuse is on May 1st in Harrisburg PA (on the off chance that you, dear reader, are anywhere near the aforementioned town over there in the U.S -“We’re back motherfuckers! Check out this Sunday rager! Let’s get weird as fuck!” is what they said. “The best damn May 1st show yr gonna want to go to! Child Abuse from Brooklyn are ready to destroy yr minds! Brand Bland hasn’t played out in ages and we are so excited!!! TBA will kick ass as always! Sundays don’t have to suck!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Let’s dance around a Maypole mofos!”. More via the Brand Bland Facebook page.

We are kind of taking it maybe a little too much for granted that you know about the oft-covered around these parts Child Abuse already – ORGAN THING: That awkwardly named beautifully intense New York avant noise band Child Abuse have a new album, we just had a first listen to the whole thing, here’s an immediate reaction and a first track released…

And on we go…..

4: Luminous Vault – A track taken from the album “Animate The Emptiness” (due out on CD/LP/Digital May 20, 2022) that jsut happened opass our way a couple of days ago.

“Animate the Emptiness” is the debut full length by the NYC metal duo Luminous Vault. On their long awaited follow-up to 2017’s “Charismata” EP, guitarist/vocalist Mario Diaz de Leon (Oneirogen, Bloodmist) and bassist/vocalist Samuel Smith (Artificial Brain, Aeviterne) present what is claimed to be “a bold and unique hybrid of black/death metal and electronic music”. We only have this one track tright now, not sure how unique their hybrid is but hey, the first taste is good enough for us ot want a little more

“From their inception in 2015, Luminous Vault have combined the “machine rhythm” approach of pioneering bands Godflesh and Blut Aus Nord with black metal and synthesizers. On Animate the Emptiness, this vibrant fusion is expressed with an intensity surpassing that of the band’s past efforts. Tracks such as “Incarnate Flame Arise” are pervaded by the slow, speaker-rattling thud of an electronic kick drum, punctuated by Smith’s distorted bassline and synthetic hi-hat patterns, while Diaz de Leon’s guitar intones haunting tremolo-picked melodies and feedback-laden squalls. On closing track “Ancient North”, melancholic doom metal harmonies sustain over syncopated bass and drum rhythms, giving way to a euphoric surge of major key tremolo riffs. Diaz de Leon and Smith’s vocal lines alternately evoke apocalyptic sermons and a call from otherwordly depths, with surrealistic lyrics that draw inspiration from psychospiritual trials and transformations, full of alchemical imagery. “Animate the Emptiness” was recorded by the band in NYC between 2019 and early 2020″

More on the album via Bandcamp

5: Em Spel – The Chicago based flutist and avant-garde folk artist has just released her first single “Overstory” from her upcoming album “The Carillon Towers”, you can find the single and the album details on Bandcamp. “The Carillon Towers features luminaries from Chicago’s thriving experimental and classical music scene who work to bring these lushly orchestrated songs to life”. Em Spel is the solo project of Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Emma Hospelhorn. The single is the only thing you can hear right now, it is a rather beautiful slice from what is a rather glowing album, there’s more about “The Carillon Towers” down there, we’ll be back in a bit with more about it, for now here’s that taste…

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“Em Spel is the solo project of Chicago-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emma Hospelhorn. Her debut album, The Carillon Towers, folds myriad textures into songs that feel alternately lush, spiky, delicate, abstract, and grounded, yet simultaneously unified and cohesive. With one foot in pop music and the other in avant-garde classical music, the album is a subtle take on chamber folk: the lush instrumentation is layered into these compositions in such a natural way that listeners aren’t totally confronted by it until a flute or violin line or a delicate electronic texture cuts through and the track is suddenly presented in a new light. 

As a performer, Hospelhorn is an exceptionally fluid force in the thriving Chicago music scene. She is a flutist in avant-classical group Ensemble Dal Niente, and her discography includes work on flutes, bass guitar, and keyboards for a wide range of artists including folk chanteuse V.V. Lightbody, experimental droners Mute Duo, indie legend Advance Base, and garage rockers Hollows. She has a working duo with cellist Katinka Kleijn for instruments and homemade synthesizers, and her experimental duo The Machine is Neither uses motion capture technology to create gesture-driven compositions. In this solo endeavor, she fuses all of these influences with story-driven lyrics to create invitingly strange folk vignettes. Many of her frequent collaborators make guest appearances on the album, including V.V. Lightbody on guitars, Kleijn on cello, and Caitlin Edwards and Matt Oliphant of Dal Niente on violin and horn.

In “Overstory,” a slow build sung from the perspective of a tree, submerged electronics give way to a hypnotic round of plainsong lines lapping each other. The interplay between electronic percussion, voice and flute in this hints at the avant-garde roots at the core of these songs. Throughout the album, playful lyrics and gorgeous textures unfold into serious themes. “The Carillon Towers” reflects on the banality of evil, and “Golem” stands as a warning about projecting our own wishes onto other people and about the damage attempting to possess someone can do. Trees, roads, and rivers mingle with raw emotions and innermost thoughts in much the same way that acoustic and electronic elements intertwine on this album, from the jagged guitars and grinding cello lines of “Promises” through the wandering flute and vocal-driven road trip love song of “Sunrise,” and the warm bed of synthesizers and lost love in “Clear River.” In “Names,” loping guitar lines and spiraling, baroque vocal harmonies are counterbalanced by fluttering, urgent flute loops, and punctuated at the end by earthquake-low French Horn multiphonics.

Of the album’s inception, Hospelhorn says: “In December 2020 I had lots of time to play around with my own music. I had been messing with different kinds of electronic sounds at the same time that I was reading Overstory, Richard Powers’ epic book about trees: their infinitely slow life cycles, the ways they affect and are affected by humans, how they communicate through chemical signals in their root networks. A loop I had been working on felt to me like the slow heartbeat of a tree, and I wondered if there was a musical way to mimic the chemical ways trees communicate. This was the kernel that became “Overstory,” and inspired the songs that followed. One question that book forces us to ask is, whose land are we living on? A lot of the songs on this record ask that question in one way or another. All of these songs are about relationships—with ourselves, with each other, with institutions, with our societies, and with the natural world.”

More of this tomorrow or….

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