Well well well, what a pleasant surprise this is. It’s not every day that I’m fortunate enough get to review something that I personally would listen to, but this is just one of those days. hERON is a collaborative effort between Progeny of Chisme/Ghost Palace (MPC, guitar, records) and Rob Castro of Grayskul/Chisme/Ghost Palace (bass.) It is also long distance musical project between Seattle and San Antonio.
hERON has released a self titled album,(12 songs) and it’s damn good. It has a very authentic 60s-70s psychedelic vibe. The sound and production give it a very retro aesthetic but not in a tryhard way. It’s like if someone recorded an album on an old analog 4-track, but they really knew what they were doing so it came out better than 99% of major label releases.
The opening track is titled “chillmode,” a nice little scratchy instrumental jam that would not seem out of place on practically any 1970s Japanese film soundtrack. I thought for a minute that maybe the whole album would be instrumental only, but some tracks like “Kissed Dreams” include vocals, which have a nice warm “AM radio” tone. My favorite song on the album is probably “Flipout,” which could best be described as elevator muzak you might imagine yourself hearing while wandering through a haunted dead mall, and I like elevator muzak.
Anyway, there’s a lot of good stuff in here, so I recommend you check out hERON if you have good taste. This bad boy is available on cassette and vinyl as well as digitally.
Chapter X is a new release from Audiobreeze, an artist based in Sofia, Bulgaria. The song bills itself a “melancholic piano piece,” but really it is so much more. The tone may be evoke emotions of sadness, yet it comes in the form of a lovely and elaborate musical composition. Chapter X is pure ambiance. The slow piano pacing, deep space sounds and rain (yes, the song actually has rain,) provide the track with a brooding atmosphere. It all has a very “cinematic” feel to it. While I listened to it, I actually pictured sad, contemplative scenes from various films I have seen. Though it’s only one track, this is a very professional release, and hopefully we’ll see more from this artist.
Barcelona based duo, Voluptas Mors have created an eclectic electronica musical experience with their recent releases, which blend many styles of music to formulate a sound that is both familiar and original. One of their latest releases titled “Imagination” combines 80s synth vibes with contemporary sounding indie vocals. It’s a good combo, creating an energetic and lively brand of indie pop. Their simple yet peppy song “I Love You,” provides the best example of this. This music belongs on a movie soundtrack, (hopefully a movie good enough to deserve it.)
Another one of their jams released earlier this year, “intelligence” is more chill and laid back. The best way for me to describe the song would be as a form of “futuristic lounge music.” Beautiful female vocals with an slow and ambient synth backing.
Rhett Retko’s “And I Told Her So” (From the EP Thnx For The Ride) fuses classic rock’n’roll with contemporary style. This is impressively achieved without coming off as a throwback or “retro” novelty band. The musiciansmanship here is excellent, and the band works well together as a cohesive unit. It’s almost like they held a casting call / audition like The Monkees and got the best people they could find for each available spot in the group. Both performatively and aesthetically, they all seem to be on the same page, too. The music comes of as a cross between 60′s garage rock and 90′s alternative, with some contemporary influence as well. “And I Told Her So” features charismatic performances and quite nice technical guitar work. The vocals are on key and fairly dynamic, right where they should be (and I’m even basing that on the live version.) The energy and enthusiasm of Rhett Retko are contagious.
“Dark Matter” is the fourth album from Nega Blast X (a trance, techno and industrial music project formed in 2010 by Burbank Music Arranger, Author and Digital Artist Dominic R.) The album gets right down to business with the opening title track, which is high octane dance music, with an edge. It is a solid club jam, the kind of song that makes you feel like you just downed an energy drink and are off to hit the dance floor.
The album stays fairly consistent throughout, with a few nice twists. “Cutter” for example is one of those more uplifting techno songs that’s a little more cerebral, yet just when you think you have it figured out, the track transitions to some NES-like, chiptune music. I can’t explain how or why it works. It just does. “Electric Rain” has a more serious quality to it. It opens like an epic opera would be very good for a late night chase scene in a film. “Fire Bomb” and “The Fifth” are the darkest songs on the album. They’re just plain badass.
What impresses me about this album is the way the artist is able to generate emotion, mood and ambiance without lyrics or vocals to direct you. I mean maybe it helps if you have an imagination, but there’s no denying that these songs make you “feel” something and tap into your central nervous system. There are some powerful forces at work here, dark forces. My favorite song on this album, is probably “Electric Rain,” which is a beautiful musical composition and adds another dimension to this project.
Black Bluebirds describe themselves as “an electrifying power trio from Minneapolis, Minnesota.” One of their newest tracks is titled “Love Kills Slowly” and is featured on their new album “Like Blood For Music.” The style and sound is low-key reminiscent of Bowie or Freddie Mercury, but darker, more avante garde and overall a little less flamboyant. The song features some really impressive singing, with the vocalist really going all out in ways that would have given Iron Maiden a run for their money. The whole thing is a nice eclectic mix of synthpop, indie rock and (glam?) metal, performed by some real professional musicians that know what they doing.
Well well well, what do we have here? Boulder based indie hip hop artist “Foolish Ed” doesn’t present his music with a lot of slick packaging and cheesy marketing, but he does deliver in the a e s t h e t i c s department. The video for his new LoFi jam “Never the Same” features some old school anime, through a lens of retro vhs effects. The song is also quite good (though I will admit it is odd to hear someone rapping while watching these visuals.) The backing music is excellent, with the piano giving the song a rather dreary artistic appeal, while Foolish Ed’s witty honesty and melancholy delivery is refreshing and makes him strangely likable. Foolish Ed does not appear so foolish after all, as this release reveals him to be a rather heroic artist. Perhaps it is not an and/or proposition.
Los Angeles based group Luna 13 is an interesting band in that they manage to combine the ambiance of black metal with EDM, incorporating avant garde performance art qualities along the way. Recently, the band was allegedly shut down mid-performance at the Artisan Hotel in Las Vegas after some brief nudity on stage as part of a blood ritual (Vegas sure has become prudish since the days of Showgirls.)
Luna 13′s new EP “Devourer of Light” lives us to the darkness in its name. You get the idea right away with the first track, “Long Pig,” which kicks off with a cute little xylophone style intro before unleashing the gates of hell. “Long Pig” reminds me a lot of 90′s horror movie music, but in this case it is more artistic and creative and doesn’t come off as cheesy. It’s also strangely danceable, despite the unique title. “Tick Twitch Bang” is a little bit more metal, at times almost sounding like a mix between industrial, black metal and maybe even screamo,(although without any of the whiny emo lyrics.) The chorus, “Tick Twitch Bang, lost your brain, all these voices call you insane” actually manages to be kind of catchy. “Decimate” has a hypnotic quality to it. Even with a lot going on musically and some serious loudness, the vocals are somewhat soothing. I almost felt like after listening to this track like I had just been programmed to do something bad and was ready to carry out my orders. Just listen to it, and you’ll understand. The final song on the EP, “Be Your Own Master” has the best intro (and outro,) which consists of creepy circus-like music.
This band would be great to see live, particularly in a venue where a lot of unsuspecting normies would be held hostage to the performance. It would be fun to watch them twitch and squirm and then slowly, begin to enjoy it. At the end of the day, this is pretty good music that the whole family can enjoy.
Dutch band “Lou Patty” has a new 4 song EP out and has released a video for one of the tracks, “Hostile.” The first thing that struck me about “Hostile” is that the synths are just radical. I mean seriously the opening synths are awesome, and this trend continues throughout the song. As someone who has owned many synthesizers over the years this was like synth porn to me. Top quality gear and excellent usage. The band claims to have some 80′s and 90′s influences, and I must say the vocals do have a nice kind of 80′s analog vibe. The singer seems comfortably charismatic and has a fairly dynamic voice for this style of music. The mix and production quality here are also phenomenal (produced by Lou Patty & Marlon Wolterink – White Noise Studio, assistant recording credit to Freek Philippi.)
Other tracks on the EP like “Kings and Servants” or “Minute of Peace” are more guitar driven and remind me very much of late 80′s / early 90′s hard rock, with a lot of precision guitar work at alternating speeds and a kind of brooding atmosphere. The last song, “Molly Ray” almost sounds alternative musically. It’s a little lighter than the other songs and gives the vocalist a little more room to play around with.
You don’t have to listen to these recordings for very long to realize this is a professional band of seasoned musicians that know exactly what they’re doing. This entire release is excellent both technically and artistically. If you don’t believe me, give it a listen for yourself.
“Feather Haiku” is one of Marie Helen’s most recent poems. She is becoming known for her seasonally themed poetry. Though short in length, this haiku is nonetheless thought provoking, offering the reader a silver lining in the changing season as we head toward the coming winter. The remnant from a bird gives a subtle reminder of summer memmories and that spring will appear once again.
Marie Helen is also a songwriter who founded the Los Angeles based band “Lyrics of Two,” (which consistently held the #1 spot on the Deli Music Charts in the category of mainstream pop in Los Angeles.) She has recently completed a book of poetry titled “Celebrating The Holidays And Seasons With Poetry And The Smaller Things In Nature.”