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[REVIEW] Swarms – Low Sun AKA Why the Term “Dubstep” Means Nothing by Geogaddi
May 20, 2012, 4:48 am
Filed under: Ambient, Electronic

Remember the frenzy over metalcore around 2005? It was so bad, the word now has an aftertaste that the most die-hard Red Chord and Converge fans will avoid.

Those of us who consider ourselves eclectic music fans aren’t normally blinded by spontaneous fanaticism for whatever the new flavor is. Humans just have a tendency to flock to newer and more palatable forms in droves, which results in a crop of artists (and labels willing to sign them) inspired by both the sounds of their influences and the potential for quick and easy fans (). Though there are usually a handful of artifacts to be found in this first crop, you’re better off waiting until the novelty wears off and the public moves on. There is always a second wave, and while it’s much smaller, the artists who truly believe they have a statement beyond “GIVE ME MONEY” remain. The artists worth your attention won’t be bothered by the connotations given to their genre by other bands.

Today’s dirty word is dubstep, and it’s a word that has listeners divided like nothing else. It has a following that has all but completely swallowed the entire dance music scene whole, dwarfing that of much older genres like techno or house, yet the backlash against it is well-documented and has spawned memes across the internet. Chances are, you’ve not only heard some dubstep yourself, but you’ve got a pretty strong opinion on it.

The culture surrounding mainstream dubstep may be ubiquitous and unbearable, but as with any of the countless trends of decades past, it simply won’t last. As people get their fill and move on with their lives, it will become less and less marketable until it won’t be noticed by anyone who doesn’t look for it. Only real artists, people who approached the scene with a desire to create something unique and enduring, will remain.

Artists like Bristol’s Swarms prove that we’re closer to this point than it seems. Even when paying close attention to their brand of dubstep next to its boisterous and largely American cousin, it’s difficult if not impossible to find even a vague similarity. Swarms’ roots run deep in the same river that London’s more famous Burial drinks from, focusing much more on a warm sub bass sound that carries each drum pattern from one phrase to the next instead of drowning it out in predictable bursts of screeching and grinding. The dub chords and distant vocals of their new EP Low Sun create a distinct sense of physical space, echoing and softly fading away together in divine harmony. This core sound has remained the same since their early days, however the tempos have become slower and their drums deeper even since last year’s critically acclaimed debut full-length Old Raves End. Fragmented phrases of grief and isolation weave in and out of the hand claps and subtle bass thumps, coming together to sound much more like angels crying than Transformers fucking. You get the point. The hybrid of ambient, soul, dub, and house at play here is a far cry from its explosive counterpart, attesting not only to Swarms’ originality, but a deeper and more problematic discrepancy: that the ambiguity of the term dubstep has rendered it almost completely meaningless.

Folks like myself feel trapped in the middle of a rift, simultaneously being called haters for lashing out against a type of music we’re forced to endure (“brostep”) and apologists for insisting not only that it’s not all bad, but that some of it, like the four songs on Low Sun, is downright inspiring.



[REVIEW] Blackwolfgoat – Dronolith by orlandooom407
May 17, 2012, 4:29 pm
Filed under: Ambient, Drone | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

All kneel before the Dronolith and revel within the splendor of it’s shadow! “BLACKWOLFGOAT is the solo drone/ambient project from ex-HACKMAN / MILLIGRAM guitarist Darryl Shepard,” or so his Bandcamp page says. What Darryl doesn’t want you to know: he’s actually just an enchanted floating guitar played by a pair of enormous spectral hands. These diligent hands pull from a small assortment of riffs that come to know the birth, flourishing  ellipse and calming dissolution within their sonic life cycle. Life came from fuzz burns with droning focus. His sounds elicit a certain smiling musical control, as he boasts that “all songs and sounds on this album were recorded live in the studio, no overdubs.” Of course not, the Dronolith breathes and circulates of it’s own volition. Furthermore, the lack of percussion furnishes a certain attention to the enamoring tones. Only one instrument needed for scalding a white hot trance through the listener.

Last.fm

– Jarad Haggard



Monday Mantras – OM and the star department by orlandooom407

Trying out a new segment where I’ll bring you the smooth tunes. Classics, new stuff, unsigned stuff. Expect a variety of song duos to kick start Monday morning.

First up we dig out the classic OM track “At Giza”. This invaluable gem is part of the Conference of Birds release from 2006. If you haven’t heard of Om, but you love meditating and songs that convey a journey then stream away. Kick out the ever building rhythms. Om is comprised of the rhythm section of classic doom metal juggernauts Sleep (who are also playing at this year’s Scion Rock Fest in Tampa).

Next we’ve got a single from the star department out of Dublin. This duo conjures up a thoroughly therapeutic view into their world in under three minutes. Porcelain Doll heralds a calculated snapshot of meticulously layered electronic ambiance. The track is free, and if your blood pressure needs some dispersing then click above.

– Jarad Oates Haggard



Thrupence – Voyages EP by orlandooom407

I was pondering using this for an Unheavy Herring segment, but in the best interest of diversification I’ve decided to start including “unheavy” bands and artists more frequently on Orlandooom. No, that doesn’t mean I want to hear your pubescent posi pop punk demo. Boundless and soothing ambient compositions on the other hand, please send them to my e-mail linked in each of my signatures. Big thanks to Sunik of Beat Culture for suggesting this to me, because Thrupence severely curbs the monotony of menial keyboard labor. Thrupence is the solo project of Jack Vanzet: a recent graduate of Monash University. He combs together a serene auditory environment using assorted synthesis that tends to lean towards patterns of individual notation with dubby percussion giving the songs a semblance of cohesion. Songs tend to flourish with subtle calms rather than self invigorate to a galvanizing climax. I imagine the dreams one would have listening to this in a tepid twilight seeking warmth from sound and comforter. This is another name your price available on Bandcamp, and as Metal Sucks pointed out earlier Voyages is most certainly an empirically justified guilt free download.

Click here to check out Thrupence on Facebook.

– Jarad Oates Haggard



[Unheavy Herring] Messier 31 – Solace by orlandooom407

Mike Rice, formerly of the Jacksonville black metal outfit Lokyata, has released a gorgeous collection of ambient music. This effort goes by the name Messier 31 which alludes to the Great Andromeda Nebula. If you like listening to hypnotic piano organizations this will lull you into security in no time. The progressions constantly rejuvenate to give way to a soothing consistency that builds alongside other synthesized instrumentation. Synthesis pads the centralized compositions for some songs, but also compromises a clear foundation with other tracks. I feel that these sounds might be the closest representations of what computers hear when they brown out from a night of internet substance abuse. A cooling atmosphere pads the corridors as one descends deeper into the ethereal distortions. Closing your eyes, leaning back and allowing Rice’s music to transport you was my favorite listening technique for sure. Just let it swallow you whole, and you’ll find comfort not far in the future.

Click here to check out Messier 31 on Facebook.

– Jarad Oates Haggard