Harvesting #13: Do I even feel anything? [Part I]

You know it! Since I’ve been on hiatus for a number of days, because I’m struggling with other things, like my studies – I’d like to continue with Harvesting. So this time around, we’re up a number and it’s time for the #13th edition of the loveable thing that is called Harvesting. Today, I don’t have much to say. It’s getting a little bit darker in Sweden and soon I get to sleep one hour more, since we’re setting back the clock one hour. Which could do wonders with my productivity these days and give you more material to enjoy. But I’ll get straight to the point! In this edition of Harvesting, you’ll get to know more about the following bands/artists/label(s): 阿飛西雅 APHASIA, Agent Side Grinder, Bombangrepp and AVANT! Records. I’ve asked Andrea from AVANT! Records a couple of questions and the rest are, as usual, reviews. Enjoy this time around too and I hope to see you on the carousel before its gotten to the end of the ride.

阿飛西雅 APHASIA – 提去買藥仔 Take it, You Need Medicine

Strong, emotional, vague – but beautiful at its essential roots. First song “樹林 The Woods” is a balancing act between the finer moments of post-rock glory and on the other hand; melodic alternative rock with some influences from shoegaze, with the outdrawn and dreamy riffs. It’s a complete trip from the start and it doesn’t give in to any of the lustful misdemeanors that can be found along the way. With excellent drumming and an exact change in structure, makes this uncut gem set itself ablaze with the wonderfully emotional sense of post-rock, which is how it should be done. The climax in the song introduces some of the elements used earlier in the song, with catchy drumming, different riffing and interestingly enough a truly provocative instrumental at heart. In the sense that it induces some of the most wonderful emotions from deep within, grasping them and making something out of it. Next song “秘密 A Secret“, continues in the wake, but is a more down-tempo song at the core. But there’s a sense of that something is going to happen, even though it pushes through, slowly paving the way. Like picking the most luscious berries for your homemade pie, eating it and getting an overload on the taste-buds. Even though they at times seem to be somewhat bland, there’s always something happening, a change in the drums or a change within the riffing. I also feel like there’s some kind of rock-oriented rhythm going on later in the song, which enhances the structure even more, amidst the wailing shoegaze-riffs that flow through the virtual earpiece that I imagine I’m listening through. There’s something high-tech about it, something futuristic and it touches you deep within your own mind and soul.

In one of the later songs, which in my mind sounded the best after the aforementioned, there’s something naive being thrown into the mix. I’m talking about “蚵仔寮 Kerzliao“, which really heads on its own way, instead of mimicking what has been going on before. A mellowed out and funny song, when I listen to it there’s something calming about it. It makes me giggle when I think about it, but that’s because everything is so relaxed and my brain is slowly shutting off the functions which are needed for enormous concentration. Not that it doesn’t take any concentration while listening to it and trying to analyze it, but it makes my work here even easier. Because there’s something special about the high-pitched riffs and the drums, but also the baseline, which pulsates in rhythm and touches everything else with the monotonous and repetitive style. Somehow, they manage to make this kind of style seem less boring than it would’ve if any other band tried the same formula. They have something unique, which is noticeable in the way they handle their instruments and how the structure in their song reveals itself. Surely, a must have if you like this kind of style and appreciate the general awesomeness of some great post-rock, but with some of the mellowed out rock-oriented parts, integrated with a sprinkle of shoegaze at times.

You can listen to their album over here, but you can buy it from White Rabbit Records.

Agent Side Grinder – Hardware

Minimalistic and retro-futuristic, if that made any sense at all. In the first song “Look Within“, it sounds like they’ve sharpened the funky undertones of Nitzer Ebb, tuned it down to fit the down-tempo outfit. With the mellowed out, but sincere and somewhat in-your-face vocals, this piece of electronics makes wonders when you listen to it. There’s always something going on, like the synths that activate themselves in the background and come out as a buzzing noise in your headphones. It might not be pure EBM, but it’s got some of the features that are used in those arrangements. I’m thinking about the repetitive and monotonous drums, accompanied by the funky main-synth and the amount of intrigue these few instruments and sounds can capture. There’s definitely some New Beat going on there also, when I think about it. I imagine myself standing in an abandoned industrial town, getting my own private show by Agent Side Grinder, while standing in a totally decayed environment. I hate to say it, but one of the more memorable songs on this album, “Rip Me“, really sounds like Depeche Mode-light. There’s also a pinch of Pankow on the edges, but only vaguely. Maybe less bombastic than them, but I definitely see some of it in the vocals at least. Feels like I’m on an endless trip on the train, to a destination which I know very little about. To say the least, if I were to make some modern analogy, I would also compare them to Metroland. Seems like they have about the same minimalistic synth-scape when it boils down to it, the kind of minimalism meets naive little synths and drum-machines.

Another track that gives me shivers down the spines, is the one featuring Henric De La Cour on vocals, titled “Wolf Hour“. He manages to fill up the emptiness between different parts of the song, connecting them with his own thing vocally, which really makes the song a lot better. His emotional singing fits the sound-scape perfectly and adds another touch of sincerity to the mix. With the more aggressive singing, in another kind of style, handing in a contradiction in the sound-scape itself. Which makes it even more enjoyable to listen to. As the instruments clash, between the layer of aggressiveness á la Brigade Werther (especially the song Killbeat), with Henric De La Cour as the master of the chanson, there’s an edge that plows straight through me with full force. The last song that I want to mention that gave me something I was searching for, was the song “Pyre” which is more ballad-oriented. A synthetic goo filled with both the mystery of coldwave and the loveable cheesiness of both future-pop and synth-pop. Slowly moving forward into the distance, catching on to the whole mood of the sound-scape, with a singer’s voice that’s as sweet as the most sugar-filled soda pop you’d ever find yourself drinking. I think they’ve got something going that is out of the ordinary, but I don’t really dig their sound overall. But they’ve surely grasped the craftsmanship behind this kind of music and made it their own deal, which is wonderful and respectable.

You can listen to one of the tracks from the album below and you can also buy it from here.

Bombangrepp – Skuggan Av Dödens Sändebud

There’s something edgy about this, differentiating from the general d-beat chaos. As can be heard within the first song “Livets Refräng“, the general mood of the song is total chaos and anarchy. But there’s something that makes this stand out from all the other bands that do the same thing, I don’t really know what, but some of the riffs are innovative and bring a great strength to the rest of the sound-scape. The singer is also hell-bent on this, which also makes it easy to understand how they’ve managed to make this song so great. He’s got somewhat different vocals and they’re bearable. At times, there’s the same kind of feeling to it, as it feels a little bit like everything else, but it continually fades out the more I listen to the song and understand the greatness of it. One of the other tracks on the album, namely the fourth one, titled as “Den Inre Striden” has some really cool riffs that make it much more enjoyable to listen to. The whole sound-scape as a whole is just making it even better, whereas the drums take a little bit more room in this song. At times it almost sounds like it’s knocking on the door of metal, but that’s just how the riffs sound in some parts of the song. There’s really a raw Mob 47 and Bizex-B feeling in it, if you blended those two together and kept the tempo of the aforementioned.

I feel like some other songs also need to be mentioned. The sixth song, which is also the title-track, namely: “Skuggan Av Dödens Sändebud“, delivers a fierce combination of the best in both punk and d-beat. It’s absolutely raw throughout, it’s almost as if they’re a bunch of skeletons performing, since the fury of the song have already gnawed down to the bone. That’s how it feels when listening to this song, there’s a total sense of apathy but at the same time the tempo just continually keeps punching me in my ears. One of the best songs on the album, hands down, is the eighth song “Inget Hopp – Ingen Framtid“, which is indescribably majestic in its musical appearance. So if this song haven’t made you loose all your hope and just say fuck it, you’re down in deep water. The riffs are excellent, the drumming is on point and the vocalist makes his best effort so far. Since this album was released in 2011, I was hesitant at first to do a review on it, but I thought it would be cool to put this one out too. You should get this album if you have the chance, definitely one of the better d-beat punishers out there.

Download their album for free over here, but I suggest that you give them some cash, because they’re worth it.

I asked some questions for the label-owner Andrea of AVANT! Records. Hope you like this one too.

So, where did your idea for AVANT! Records come from and what was your aim for the label when you started it and who are you?

– The label was born in 2007 to co-release the split 7-inch between my band His Electro Blue Voice and the French black metal punk band Nuit Noire. It started with the intent of doing something good and well done with kind(s) of music I dig the most and that’s the spirit I carry it on by.

In what way do you think your label has developed since the first couple of releases?

– I like to keep things simple, minimal, neat and effective, and that’s surely a constant. This said, every release is or can be a new spot explored. I would never have thought of doing any dark-folk record before Cult of Youth, just as I’d never have imagined of releasing pure electronic music before Scorpion Violente. So yeah every step can lead to new directs. Wait and listen to the debut album by How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood? and you’ll see how another new shore has been touched.

How do you decide what you want to release and what you don’t want to release, what’s your criteria?

– Basically if I like it? And if it can fit in with the label, I mean a like a lot of different stuff but one label cannot just do everything y’know. You gotta have your own identity as a label.

Could you tell me anything about the releases you’ve done so far and how they became a finished product ready to be sold?

– Well, there’s an entire productive process behind every label which is exacly the label’s job. I don’t mean to bore you with details but that’s what a label does: contacting the band, offering one kind of deal, being in touch with vinyl pressing plant, with distributors, with zines, blogs and music journals… it’s our whole world.

Thank you for answering these questions! What’s happening for you in the near future?

– Out right now are HORROR VACUI – In Darkness You Will Feel Alright LP (over here) and NIGHT SINS – New Grave LP (the opening song here down below), while November the 26th will be available HOW MUCH WOOD WOULD A WOODCHUCK CHUCK IF A WOODCHUCK COULD CHUCK WOOD? s/t LP (Joy & Rebellion video)  and LUST FOR YOUTH – Saluting Rome EP.

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