Review: Keep – For Your Joy

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With strange but charming aesthetics to a degree, Virginian duo Keep made an effort and released their debut full-length album now in June. Finding them wasn’t difficult, they’ve been featured on VICE before, and their sound is something that sticks out in many ways. We decided to do a track-by-track review of this release, titled “For Your Joy“. It clocks in at around 41 minutes total.

YHB” is the introductory to this album, a sullen gothically sounding track which suddenly bounce into alternative territories. It has that slow, decimating feeling and nicely crafted harmonics, together with afflicted vocals. At one point it almost lends itself in whole to a sludge-rock, doomy kind of sound – making the atmosphere bigger and more psychedelic the further in you get. The drumming goes from the steady rhythm into a frenzy and then back again as if nothing had happened. It is a downbeat experience throughout but pack a relentless upbeat punch if needed.

Their sound feel like something unique but at the same time pays homage to their influences. It’s weird to realize that it is a duo, because their sound is much greater then just that. “Temporal Drift” pick up and switch into post-punk and goth directly, there’s no time for the lull and slowness of the first song, and here they clearly make use of the beauty in their simple melodies – alluding to the core in their songmaking. When the quick, bleak riffs come and go – they break through in the chorus, blooming into a special kind of song – together with the vocals.

As they drift farther away with their rhythm and melody, they still attain a charismatic sound. The seriousness in their lyrical content shape the soundscape and even though it derives out of the simplicity in short – but emotional vocals – they’re outdrawn and carry one with the atmosphere and the totality of the sound itself. An absolute joyride in terms of uncanny craftsmanship in music. I’m stunned after hearing this song.

Welcome To” is jumpstarted by “Temporal Drift” as it faded out. What is even more clear in this song is how the baseline and the individual items in the drumset make way for a sinister apocalypse – in the manner of heavily distorted guitars – which take the song to a definitive crescendo. Even if there is only one chorus, it feels like it has multiplied and represents the mix of two songs in one, a harsher part and a gloomier more softer sound that give away another side of them. From here it just gets better, with “Response” – that go from a promising introductory to a complete anthem in just a few seconds. The glaring noise of the synthesizer and more electronically-based soundscape masquerade, adding a theatrical feel and an even bigger sound.

Being the shortest song on the album, one wants it to go on forever. It feels like it could easily turn into something completely ambient, but as it is torn apart by the instrumentation, it hides away what lurks around the corner, taking the listener by surprise as it carries on. When hearing “In Perfect Order“, it just feels like one has found the perfect blend of shoegazy vocals and atmosphere, in a post-punk setting with that ingenuity that helps it be anything but confined within those genres. The vocals are chanted more, giving it a whole other vibe in general. The playfulness they display is obvious in this song – it sounds more like a session turned onto its head and into a very well made final product.

WithEarthly Desired” I am reminded by how RA sounds and how their nordic noir sound is something that stand out on its own. Keep have got that kind of touch in their vocals, especially, in this song. This is as emotional as it can gets and the lyrics stand out on their own here, the ingenious dark melodies are churned out with total attitude. So far, this is one of my favorite songs on the whole release. Damn, these guys really know how to make music and one is still flabbergasted by the fact that it is a duo.

As Testament” goes off, the more slower side of things return. Here’s the anti-thesis of the last couple of songs. A downer and a shapeshifter, at least. One suddenly feel the urge to bob head side to side. Everything’s so concentrated, the twang in the baseline and the precision of the drumming, the plagued vocals. When you think it is going to sound absolutely the same all the way through, they step their game up and slam on the drums and create a rambunctious setting where nothing is sacred. From this to “My Love” which almost sound industrial to begin with, as they carry on with a distorted basedrum. The vocals being as distorted as they are in some of the parts of the song adds a little rock’n’roll in the middle of everything.

The attention to detail in the atmosphere is remarkable. Everything has been thought out but at the same time, volatile. From this complete predestined setting to an even more industrially sounding track, “Man Made it“, completed with the pure delight of gothically sounding post-punk. This is the good variant of it. Noteable about it is how the lyrics, especially this passage: “Feet don’t touch the ground, ear don’t like the sound“, pass right through and make you feel it by the singer’s emphasis. The reverberated sound of the riffs together with the dark, pounding baseline give the rhythm a whole other dimension – a more sinister one. This song is mysterious, callous in a way – but realistic.

Lastly, “7 Days” is a pure ballad. Not in the traditional sense, but in the sense of how Keep wants it. With it you have more time as a listener to focus on the vocalist and the lyrics. The riffs are absolutely on point in this song – making it one of the more beautiful ones on this release as a whole. Their lyrics are absolutely phenomenal on this song, when combined. It is sad to have listened for this long and then hear how it slowly fades out into nothingness. I’d like to thank Keep for delivering such a solid record, one of my favorites of 2017 so far. Thank you.

Check out their earlier releases first, but if you want to you can start as we did, with their latest one: “For Your Joy“. You can listen to it in whole down below.

Listen: Fathers – 3 Songs

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Though everything in their graphic outlay doesn’t interest us the least, mostly because of the irritative pink color that drowns out everything else, we’re indeed satisfied not having to look at it close enough for too long. When it comes to their music—it’s is a cunning blend of three different genres—that would be extremely bland if they were to be separated. People can say anything they want about clichés, but the lyrical content is fairly good and is above average when combined with the overlapping electronic music they combine with bombastic, subliminal percussion which upholds the rest of their magnificence – alongside dreamy riffs, indie-pop melancholia and oddly enough – dark-wave.

The rhythms they’ve created entwine with the darker waves that break through, connecting them with the inherent structure of the lyrics and also the rest of the sound-scape. Whereas their name might be a bit odd when you think about it, Fathers can’t be held accountable for delivering yet another repetitious wreck of music. It’s actually inspiring and calming to hear everything come together as if it was meant to be. There’s a red line through and through, interestingly enough they have accomplished the near-impossible of connecting the dots almost perfectly in their first output. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they’re veterans when it comes to making music, but if they aren’t – it doesn’t really matter – because these three songs are masterpieces in and of themselves. One song is a beauty, the others are the beasts, but not nearly as ghastly as anything else you would pass by to find out about this release. Listen down below.

Lyssna: Sanne De Neige – Dans La Forêt / / Insomnie // Venin

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Det blir alltid lite förvirrande när så mycket musik släpps på en och samma gång, men nu har Sanne De Neige lagt upp tre stycken nya låtar, som inte borde stå okommenterade. Med en trummaskin, bas, synthar och gitarrer till sitt förfogande, så lyckas duon mästerfullt med att framförallt blanda de gotiska undertonerna med experimentell coldwave musik. Det framträder väldigt klart i och med sångerskan Sanne de Neiges vokalmattor som lurar i bakgrunden, men som tränger igenom den trummaskinfyllda atmosfären, täckt av ett lager med förvrängning vilket gör att rösten förutom att vara lite disträ även omvandlar en annars stickande ljudbild till ett glödgande hett inferno. Kaoset har bara inte brutit ut och tur är väl det. Särskilt i första låten “Dans La Forêt” så utvecklas omgivningen organiskt och går från att vara tämligen lugnt, till att lägga på lager efter lager och med en omvälvande kraft förvandlas till någonting alldeles eget. Utan att egentligen ta med nackdelarna som hade kunnat finnas, lyckas en tämligen statisk ljudbild bli större än förväntat.

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För den som aldrig upplevt sömnlöshet, känns det som att “Insomnie” är en representation av det i ljudform. Med en förvrängd röst sköljs stämman bort till förmån för ett industriljud med diskant, för att sedan falla in i en mer kontemplerande fas där allting känns mycket klarare. Här känns det som om man vaknar upp från sin sömnlöshet – istället för att behöva vandra i en trötthetsdimma utan dess like. Rytmerna är medryckande men fokuserade på att ställa till så mycket trubbel som möjligt, för att sedan återgå till en mer kontrollerad sväng vars melodier bygger upp en kaskad av känslor – som släpps lös till slut. Det finns också någon slags lättsamhet som inte direkt kommer av den kalla vågen, utan snarare den popiga ljudmatta som influerar små delar av hela deras ljudlandskap. Den finns inte där alltid, men är en del av det mer detaljstyrda som gör att det finns utrymme för mer än bara ond bråd kyla och allt som följer med det. En hoppfullhet som smittar av sig på allt annat.

Sedan när den sista låten “Venin” kommer, så är det i form av ett slags avskedsbrev. Det är ett tack och adjö med ett stilla lugn som omgiver allt – nästan lite balladaktigt – om man gör undantaget och inte väljer att definiera en ballad som en smörsångares sista urusla suck. Det här är mil ifrån det och tack och lov för det. Det finns en reflekterande ådra som gömmer sig i vaggorna, men så brister Sanne ut i en så kraftfull sång vilket ger låten momentum, för att sedan med trummaskinen långsamt suddas ut av den tidsram som låten är satt på. Det passar helt utmärkt. Tystnaden varar ett tjugotal sekunder, innan man egentligen förstår att låten är slut. När allting är över så finns där en förhoppning om att det ska dyka upp fler låtar, eller kanske att låtarna sammanställs i ett självsläppt album – eller att någon av våra tyngre och bättre bolag som Beläten kan ta tag i den talang de besitter. Det känns som att de passar bra ihop och att det är en pusselbit som kanske fattas hos dessa bolag, även om de sedan innan – och fortsätter att släppa – hejdundrans alternativa album som andra skivbolag ignorerar, trots dess potential. Lyssna till alla tre låtar här nedanför.

Listen: Soggy Creep – EP

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Out from the blue comes Soggy Creep. At least for me, I had never heard of them since I got an e-mail about the band. Carrying members from different bands like Bone Sickness and Criminal Code, one of them being Avi Roig (ex-It’s A Trap), the Pacific Northwest comes out strong again. Having released a demo ten months ago, completing their first EP just now – six days ago. What makes them strong is their output which they’ve decided to put in the dark punk category, where the baselines darken and a gloomy, almost death-rockish sound seeks it’s way through the cracks. The sound is almost like a dysharmonic skate-punk sound, if you strip away the general cheesyness of it. The anti-skatepunk (or rather, pop-punk) with overt melodious content. Sure, there are melodies that will make you question it – but you don’t really have to – because they’re layered nefariously, showing off a slow but in general tempo-clutching decay. Other tracks are faster, but what makes you twist your head in agony is the atmosphere they create. There’s enough punk in there to make you shout, but complex enough to not make it too simple. The thoughtfulness that sear with the harsh riffs are complemented well by a singer that never goes out of his way to cement their sound, he keeps it on the lowdown for the atmosphere to shroud everything else. Even though he’s a central part of it all.

It is an EP that is well worth listening to and it is a breath of smelly air, for once. Though much of their sound is carried in their instrumental parts, there isn’t much there for you not to like. Enough authority to make you not question it, enough sincerity to be able to pull this off. I’m hoping the Olympians are ready to take it one step further and enhance their sound a little bit more, but it is a perfectly good EP to start your seance with Soggy Creep. The name itself gives an alluring feeling to everything else, even though it should’ve been a bit more mysterious and not as creepy. But hey, each to his own. The release is available for digital streaming and hopefully they’ll release something physical, soon. Maybe it’s the run-up to an album – let’s hope so. In the meanwhile, stream “EP” down below.

NO! Spotlight: Dry Socket / Ray Creature! [Part II]

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I found a rather anonymous label which is situated in Terre Haute, Indiana. The American label that I found is called NO! Record Label and is hosting itself on Tumblr, giving off a rather secluded interior for me to find mysterious. All the better, because it leaves much to my own imagination. This mysterious label have released two releases before those that I am going to cover in this spotlight. One of the releases are of Drekka and Assimilation – a kind of live re-work of each others live performances – but also a late introductory for me to Michael Andersons brainchild Drekka. This was actually the first release to be put out on this label. The second release was a compilation featuring the artists Drekka, NOON, John Flannelly, Canid, Assimilation and Agakus. Featured musicians working in the Bloomington, Indiana area, described by the label: “a collection of tracks that represents the loose circle of musicians that play weird electronic music together in basements, coffee houses, and bars“. But the two releases that I’m going to cover here are Dry Socket and in the second part; Ray Creature. This is the last part and it features Erich Booth and Natascha Buehnerkemper, known as Ray Creature. Let’s see if you enjoy it.

a3748909156_10Ray Creature. The fourth release on NO! Record Label is “Don’t Stop Talking EP“, featuring four tracks. Lo and behold, what I find is one of the finest examples of what can be done with post-punk. Combining it with the wide-array of genres like dark wave, no-wave, synth-pop and a rather odd experimentalism is the way to go. The fact that Ray Creature is a duo is mind-boggling, because they sound like they’ve had a whole band and that they just quit after this EP due to the difficulty of conveying such a sound. Such a huge sound is being created by two people. A shady sound, with funky undertones of the baseline and the general feel of it is somewhere in between the bizarre and the ingenious. Unfortunately all the steam goes to the track “Don’t Stop Talking” which is probably the best track on the release. After the haziness of the minimal synth landscape, which suddenly just shifts into some kind of disco-vibe mess, featuring no-wave vocals and a general sense of disobedience. The modular synthesizers are working hard on delivering the undertones of electronica to such a harsh example of the successes this band has, with experimentalism. After the first track which could be regarded as setting the theme for the rest of the release, it just delves into some kind of weird example of how the electronica doesn’t really cope with the weirdness of the atmosphere. There’s such a messy landscape of sound that you don’t really know what to look for. Too much happening at the same time.

Even though I know their ambitions have been great, they once again pick up where they left off the stream after “Success“, when we enter “Ripped Apart” – a totally energized maelstrom of the best synthesizers and up-tempo beat you could find. Cocky vocals at that, too. Don’t get me wrong, the concept of “Success” is good to begin with, but I just end up finding myself reminded about the melody – but in the way of that is the general anarchy that actually turns me away from that track to begin with. The last track seems to be a whole long intermezzo between catchy instrumentation, steady rhythms and a snare-sound that i find myself enjoying more than the general mood of the track at all. The vocals in this track is so good, but I don’t really enjoy the lyricism. Even though I have a lot of criticism to give, the general feel of the EP is great. It seems to be long in between when you hear about a sound that has taken off, then you listen to it and find out that it’s like something you’ve heard before – but not really in this format. They do a good job of pulling off the crossover between genres and fill it up with nice experimentalism. I must say that without the soothing but urgent vocals that Natascha deliver, this wouldn’t be as great of an experience as it really was. Enjoy it yourselves by streaming and listening to it here, down below.

Spotlight: Weeping Rat – Forced Vision/Fractured Zones!

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Melbourne, Australia. As the sun sets, the Weeping Rat comes out to feast. Having recorded music under this name since 2012, with their first release “Blood & Fog“, a duo consisting of Jacob and Michael – slowly, over time became a whole group. After having released their second release “Empty Hearse/Funeral Train“, it took them about one year and a half to return with a track with the name “Light Of The Moon“, in January of 2014. Since those releases, they’ve slowly moved away from the rock-aspect of death-rock, having more of the atmosphere which can be conceived in such a genre – to their advantage – which in turn created a rather sense of urgency beneath a layer of coldness. This resulted in a double-EP released in the month of April. The first EP to be put up was “Forced Vision” and the second one was “Fractured Zones“. There is a noticeable difference with these two releases, as they stray away from the grittiness of the death-rock sound, paving a way for a death-industrial-esque trip between the living and the dead. Focusing more in “Fractured Zones” on the general landscape of sound being conceived with the experimentalist notion of decayed noise in a dark ambient landscape. Whilst the other EP, “Forced Vision”, focuses more on the rock’n’roll aspect – wishfully entering the same realm – but on different conditions. Which makes these two releases quite different, even though much of what they have in common is rendered, abysmally.

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Though a lot of their sound might have a few things getting used to, it doesn’t sound flawed at all, but rather delivers an intermingling of genres seldom expressed by the artist – into such a sound-scape. Brooding is the total industrial transformation of Weeping Rat. Giving away a uncompromising and outdrawn sound, a secret that is being unveiled when you listen to it, making you feel part of a darker adventure. It doesn’t really make itself that great in text when trying to explain the picturesque landscape of decaying rot that these Australians produce. But it is a milestone in their own discography, making it perfectly clear that even they can change their outfit for better or worse – into something that is so out of touch with their ordinary, by now; memorabilia. Stream both EPs down below and listen to it, so you can discover a whole other side of their sound.

Spotlight: Life Is Pain – Born, Suffer, Die…

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Missing out on two years ago is not such a big deal. But once you find something that simply attaches itself into your mind, you want to show it to the world – no matter how many years on its neck it might have. The largely existential project Life Is Pain is the solo endeavor of an unknown character from New York. His influences range from Arthur Schopenhauer‘s stance on suicide, which is that it’s not wrong at all or born out of cowardice, since; “They tell us that Suicide is the greatest piece of Cowardice. That Suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in this world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person“. This project also harkens from the depths of atmospheric dark wave, to the less intriguing blend with melodious cold wave – to the more exciting metamorphosis from experimentalism to post-punk, goth and minimal synth. Even though the more melodic parts make you shy away from the project, the absoluteness of the darkness that can be derived from the absolutely soul-wrecking topics that are brought up make you turn the other cheek and face it towards “Born, Suffer, Die…”, which is the two-tracked release that is talked about above. Featuring the two tracks “Unassailable” and “Sindrome“. Unfortunately, he hasn’t released anything else then this, but this might help spark interest in what he’s been working with before. Stream it down below.