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10 Records of 2021

Considering that this blog has started exactly 2 years ago with a list based on the best albums of the ending year, this kind of list is definitely impossible to miss here.

There is a lot of good music released this year that deserves some words, I tried to keep it more various possible and hope to inspire someone to discover some new tunes.

At the end there is also an “additional records” section like i did the previous year, if this was not enough. Enjoy!

release date: April 23, 2021

Arooj Aftab “Vulture Prince”

Third album of the Brooklyn based Pakistani songwriter and the one that gave her the biggest recognition around musical circles.

This record is one of the fresher things that came out this year with a unique atmosphere made of exotic vibes, emotional singing and beautiful songwriting; indeed this album is made with different ingredients such as minimal jazz sections, Sufi music, atmospheric pop and evocative eastern folk parts.

Arooj’s voice is also very expressive, tender and beautiful, evoking introspective poems sang in pakistani (with the exception of Last Night, with words by Persian poet Rumi, but translated in English).

Mohabbat is probably the most known track from the record, and for sure one of the most impressive moments of Vulture Prince, able to provide a real magic atmosphere drawed from a remote peaceful paradise located somewhere in Eastern Asia and far from everything chaotic.  The whole album is absolutely unmissable: from the beuatiful serenity of Baghon Main to the melancholic string sections of Diya Hai.

Music from another world.

LANTLOS - Wildhund

Lantlôs “Wildhund”

Longtime comeback from German multi instrumentalist Markus Siegenhort with his main project. 

For people not familiar with this monicker, Lantlôs have been developing a very original formula through the years, adding album to album some new elements to keep Inspiration alive and offering always big quality tunes. This new Wildhund follows the direction explored on the previous Melting Sun released 7 years before it; there’s a lot of heavy alternative rock clearly inspired by Deftones and Hum, but with such a unique vibe made of dream pop/sheogaze atmospheres, altern rock vocal solution and very delightful post-hardcore/math rock inspired moments.

Siegenhort is an excellent songwriter and this record is another proof, especially because it is the first with more “classic lenghty songs” instead of the somehow “progressive structures” used in the previous records. 

Perfect blend of heavy rock and beautiful dreamy soundscapes, absolutely recommended.

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises  (2021, Blue Marbled, Vinyl) - Discogs

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & London Symphonic Orchestra “Promises”

Putting more musician’s efforts and inspirations together has always been an interesting way to explore different directions and avoid to do something already done. Well, this is one of the cases when simply reading the names involved you can already be sure is gonna be epic.

This is with no doubt one of the higlights of 2021 and an album that is probably going to survive through the years as an incredible masterpiece.

Floating Points is a british electronic music producer with a great talent for soundscapes and evocative ambient music, while Pharoah Sanders is a giant of jazz; a saxophonist active since the 60’s, author of several masterpieces like Pharoah (1976) and Journey to the One (1980) and collaborations with legends such as John Coltrane, Sun Ra and John Zorn.

This record is like a neverending dream, perfect and intense, permeated by a fantastic nocturn atmosphere that is gonna blow the listener’s mind through ambient visions, blissful electric piano and harp moments enriched by the incredible expression of Pharoah Sander’s sax. 

Last but not least everything is accompanied by London Symphonic Orchestra, that gives the album and absolutely epic and cinematic vibe (listen to the explosion on the sixth movement and tell me if this is not the album of the year). Amazing.

Jaubi: Nafs at Peace Album Review | Pitchfork

Jaubi “Nafs at Peace”

Yes, Pakistan again, and this time with a more obscure record, but still a very impressive jewel.

Jaubi is an ensemble from Lahore and this is their first full-length album. The music is composed by a unique formula which is a mix of modal jazz, classic indian music, raga, eastern folk and some instrumental old school hip-hop reference.

Every music piece is based around a main theme with a strong dose on improvisation developing on it; which makes this record 100% jazz. There’s a massive use of flutes, sax and piano as lead instruments as well traditional indian sarangi. Backing sections includes amospheric layhers, spiritual chants, tabla as well as enthralling drum patterns and guitar/bass lines.

This is a fantastic journey to faraway lands made of sounds from different parts of the world using both typical eastern and western musical solutions. Excellent.

Stereogum's tweet - "Godspeed You! Black Emperor's new album 'G_d's Pee AT  STATE'S END!' is out today. It's the legendary post-rock collective's first  new music in four years, and it rules. Stream

Goodspeed You! Black Emperor “G_D’s Pee AT STATE’S END”

It’s been 4 years from the release of Luciferian Towers and tons of things in the world have happen since then, first of all Covid pandemic, that has completely changed everything around us and has put in heavy crisis every government.

So there’s probably no better historical period for GY!BE’s anarchist and anti-state poetry like this critic and uncertain situation, that really seems to be the state’s end the album is about.

No Godspeed trademark is missing here: there’s their typical military rock progressions on the first gigantic 20 minutes track, which is par se divided in sub-sections, and also some apocalyptic drone and minimalist moments made of interferences, disturbed signals and radio voices.

The typical magic melancholy of the canadian ensemble is also still incredibly evocative as always, crafting magnificent sections on the beautiful Fire at Static Valley and the ginormous anti-state hymn Government Came; cathartic, theatrical and moving pieces of amazing music.

It’s incredible how the band have never lost a gram of inspiration through the years, and how their poetic and strong message has always remained intact and present to current times. Here to finish, a sentence of the band regarding the album:

this record is about all of us waiting for the end.
all current forms of governance are failed.
this record is about all of us waiting for the beginning,
and is informed by the following demands=
empty the prisons
take power from the police and give it to the neighbourhoods that they terrorise.
end the forever wars and all other forms of imperialism.
tax the rich until they’re impoverished.

much love to all the other lost and lovely ones,
these are death-times and our side has to win.
we’ll see you on the road once the numbers fall.

Dijon: Absolutely Album Review | Pitchfork

Dijon “Absolutely”

Debut album of singer/producer from Los Angeles Dijon Duenas, better known as just Dijon. 

This is another definitive highlight of 2021, a record that came out with a strong aesthetical counterpart that gives a lot of strength and originality to the whole package. This choice is mostly marked out by the fact that there is a “film version” of the whole album, where Dijon plays a live version of the songs off the record with a numerous band of friends in a fictional house with instruments and beers everywhere that instill the same feeling of an inspiring and pleasant jamming night with friends.

On a musical side I personally even prefer the “film version” which is rawest, but in certain passages even more expressive, especially regarding the vocals that in some points (Many Times, Big Mike’s) are completely driven by inner emotions and guitar tones that have a very beautiful vintage sound on every song.

However also the studio version have a strong live feeling and it sounds incredibly good giving a real sense of musicianship; there are even talking murmurs hearable in the background and amp’s hiss. 

As already said guitars have a fantastic rock blues tone, with acid and mesmerizing drive distortions, drums are also massive and good to hear, giving a raw feeling that embraces the whole sound field; but instrumentally there are a lot of great developments with solo parts played by piano, overdrive guitar and slide guitar, with also some excellent quiet moments (God in Wilson, Rodeo Clown). Anyhow the album also offers some traditionally produced tracks such as The Dress, an excellent R&B ballad with 80’s recalls.

Regarding vocals and lyrics of course everything is sustained by them; Dijon has a great ability of singing and sharing emotions, with his voice that can be pretty rough, but also tender and introspective in other parts. Definitely Recommended. 

VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN | LIL UGLY MANE

Lil Ugly Mane “Volcanic Bird Enemy and the Voiced Concern”

In a pretty unexpected and appreciated way, Travis Miller is back with a new full-length album as Lil Ugly Mane, a record that sounds very different than his previous works under the main monicker, which is also a weird choice considering how many aliases and related projects Miller has started through the years.

Indeed there is no mark left from his aggressive southern rap style, and this new effort takes very different directions such as a strong hypnagogic pop vibe alongside children music with some little jazz and rock influences here and there. 

Also the singing is very captivating and simple in the same time with no rapping at all. Some parts are very catchy, like the weird acid pop of Benadryl Submarine with its enthralling guitar arpeggio or the jazz-y nursery rhyme of Cold in Here.

The use of spoken words, TV-like samples and jingles is massive and it works really well on building a sort of dreamlike dimension made of child memories opposed to adult awareness. 

The instrumental work is very various, it goes from electronic to jazz and rock as well; I would mention the weird alternative rock of songs like Discard or Porcelain Slightly or the abstract pop jazz of Beach Harness as some of the best moments.

This record has been released only digitally on Lil Ugly Mane’s Bandcamp, this is probably not his weirdest release, since Miller has always been great at creating very personal and original music works, but it definitely sounds like nothing else around, and it offers a really great and enjoyable music trip to the listener. 

Album Review: black midi, 'Cavalcade' - Our Culture

Black Midi “Cavalcade”

With no doubt one of the most acclaimed and well reviewed albums of the year; the latest Black Midi’s release is a great work of music, an impressive non-linear and eccentric musical journey. Compared to the previous Schlagenheim the album has a less jamming/improvised approach and the English band has stated this even before the first single John L has been released; Indeed it is even perceptible by listening just to this one, with all its weird tempo changes and structures that sound like a post-punk version of Magma or Comus and its super catchy and captivating main theme.

However the general approach is based on massive experimentation, a very cohesive sound and production and the use of many solo instruments such as electric piano, sax and strings. Cavalcade is able to be convincing when it comes to energic math rock moments (Chondromalacia Patella, Slow) and also when it’s about doing something more tender (Marlene Dietrich, Ascending Forth). I would mention this as a perfect meeting between refined progressive and explosive punk attitude.

BBNG (BadBadNotGood) - Talk Memory Black Vinyl Edition - Vinyl LP - 2021 -  UK - Original | HHV

Badbadnotgood “Talk Memory”

Another record impossible to forget when it comes to list the best of the year. The new album of BBNG is still cinematic and breathtaking maintaining the unique impressive approach on soundscapes of the canadian jazz trio. The first track entitled Signal from the Noise opens the album with a magnificent dark and cinematic atmosphere, with the contribution of Floating Points on production, it is a gigantic 10 minutes musical piece that works as a ticket to outer space. There are tons of incredible moments, that gives to the album a very strong personality and no repetition at all, offering a very fluid listen.

The film-like orchestrations of Love Proceeding and City of Mirrors are completely mind blowing, as well as the progressive explosions of Beside April that offers some of the best rock influenced moments of the album, but also the beautiful ambient/fusion hybrid of Unfolding (Momentum 73) (With Laraaji’s collaboration) and the impressive post-bop of Timid, Intimidating are magnificent pieces of music.

Nala Sinephro - Space 1.8. Bleep.

Nala Sinephro “Space 1.8”

With 8 different movements based on free jazz improvisation and ambient sensitivity, the debut album of this talented London based belgan-carribean artist is absolutely incredible.

The journey offered by the album is mesmerizing, switching between dark and calm meditative introspection to very experimental modular synth leaded electronic fields (Space 3, Space 5), including a lot of perfect jazz sections with expressive drum patterns, nocturnal piano parts and distinctive sax leads (such as Space 2, Space 4 and Space 6).

During the trip Nala Sinephiro is accompanied by a numerous ensemble of great musicians, while she mostly plays synthesizer and harp. The conclusive track (Space 8) is a monolithic 17 minutes work of art; calm, evocative, mysterious and beautiful, with ambient magic similiar to giants like Laraaji or Hiroshi Yoshimura and tender jazz shades here and there. 

Porter Robinson - Nurture - Amazon.com Music

Porter Robinson “Nurture”

Originally announced to be released on September 2020 and later pushed back due to Covid-19, this is the second effort by American electronic music producer Porter Robinson. 

While moving mostly across dance pop fields there is a strong research of emotional tunes, mostly expressed through soundtrack-like piano parts and addictive vocal lines. Robinson is no secret fan of j-pop music and some elements are clearly hearable on many songs, alongside some dream pop/hyperpop vibes that recalls Kero Kero Bonito (collaborators on the song Musician), Charli XCX or No Rome.

Nurture is a really nice example of emotional electro pop made of dancing beats, tender singing with frequent high-pitch and a lot of mind blowing choruses hard to get away of your head; the result is both chilling and moving, definitely recommended to be enjoyed during a summertime sunset.

Additional recommendations:

PinkPantheress “To Hell With It”

Deafheaven “Infinite Granite”

Space Afrika “Honest Labour”

Black Country, New Road “For the First Time”

Wolf Alice “Blue Weekend”

Musk Ox “Inheritance”

Kayo Dot “Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike”

Darkside “Spiral”

Low “Hey What”

Clark “Playground in a Lake”

LIghtning Bug “A Color of the Sky”

Marisa Anderson & William Tyler “Lost Future”

Portico Quartet “Monument”

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10 Records with Nathanaël Larochette (Musk Ox)

Potrebbe essere un'immagine in bianco e nero raffigurante 1 persona, giacche e albero

With some of the most interesting and talented artists and bands coming from there (Rush and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are just a few example), Canada has always been a very inspiring and important land for music.

Musk Ox from Ottawa is no exception, with their unique sensitivity for creating emotional and inspired music by their beautiful blend of chamber music, neofolk, post-rock and romantic melancholia.

A little over a month ago, they have finally released after 7 years the new album Inheritance; a moving and magnificent work that confirms the incredible talent of the trio able to paint beautiful soundscapes with a cinematic thrilling impact and surprising with even more classical music and progressive influences than the previous masterpiece Woodfall.

On this article is a big pleasure for me to have Nathanaël Larochette, classical guitarist of Musk Ox, but also guitar player of The Night Wound and solo artist.

Below follows a list made by him with 10 of the most influential records of his life, as a musician, artist and of course as a music lover.

You can listen and buy the new Musk Ox album via the following link: https://muskoxofficial.bandcamp.com/album/inheritance

NATHANAEL LAROCHETTE - Invocation - YouTube
Fugees: The Score Album Review | Pitchfork

Fugees “The Score” (1996)

When I first got this album on cassette as a kid back in 1996 I had no idea it would eventually be regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever, I just liked the songs I saw on TV.

I still remember listening to this non-stop on my Walkman while on a family camping trip, barely able to grasp the layers of meaning and multitude of references but still completely enthralled.

Even after 25 years I’m blown away by the level of lyrical, musical and conceptual depth this album has to offer. Without realizing it, The Score laid the foundation for my deep love of concept records and cinematic musical storytelling.

NOFX: The Decline - Punkadeka - Punk web Magazine

NOFX “The Decline” (1999)

Punk rock will forever have the reputation of de-throning prog rock in the late 70s with its energetic and direct approach to songwriting so far removed from the conceptual epics, celestial imagery and flowing capes that had taken the world by storm earlier in the decade.

While it seemed like punk and prog could never exist together, “The Decline” manages to offer some of the best music either genre has to offer.

Koji Kondo: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Album Review | Pitchfork

Koji Kondo “The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time OST(1998)

When Ocarina of Time was released in 1998 it was an event. Everything about it was epic beyond description and decades later it remains one of the greatest games of all time. Although this selection wasn’t a traditional album I listened to growing up, I probably absorbed this music more than any record I owned thanks to the hours of immersive gameplay I consistently lost myself in.

The grand sense of drama, adventure and hopeful innocence this music evokes has influenced every album I’ve released and will continue to inspire all of my future music.

Raymond Scott – The Music Of Raymond Scott - Reckless Nights And Turkish  Twilights (1998, CD) - Discogs

Raymond Scott “The Music of Raymond Scott – The Reckless and Turkish Twilights” (1998)

Although this album was a recent discovery, when I was first introduced to Raymond Scott’s quintet music I felt like I had been listening to it my whole life. It all made sense when I discovered that his themes had been featured heavily throughout the cartoons I had grown up watching.

Although I would loosely classify this as jazz, it’s more like rhythmically intricate classical music played by jazz musicians with a progressive metal sense of inhuman technicality and tightness. It’s also worth mentioning that the drummer on these recordings is none other than the father of famed film composer John Williams, so the next time you hear the Cantina Theme from Star Wars you’ll know who influenced it.

Rachel's - Music For Egon Schiele - Vinyl LP - 1996 - US - Reissue | HHV

Rachel’s “Music for Egon Schiele” (1996)

This album had such a massive impact on me that it single handedly inspired the foundation for the current Musk Ox trio lineup.

Composed for a theater and dance performance about the Austrian painter Egon Schiele, this instrumental album is both breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreakingly emotional. Composed by the group’s pianist Rachel Grimes, I highly recommend exploring her solo work as well as the rest of the Rachel’s discography.

My guitar teacher Dr. John Higney, who I studied with when I moved to Ottawa in 2005 to pursue music, introduced me to this record as well Raymond Scott’s music so I am eternally grateful to him.

ULVER Kveldssanger reviews

Ulver “Kveldssanger” (1996)

Although it feels like each album on this list is part of its own larger list of similar, influential albums, I have to give credit to Kveldssanger for planting and sowing the magical seeds of dark folk in the soil of my musical heart.

The atmosphere and simplicity of this record had a huge impact on me as a beginner guitarist and continues to inspire and challenge me as an experienced one. The early Musk Ox demos were pure Kveldssanger worship, just as all dark folk records are and forever will be.

Agalloch - The Mantle | Pubblicazioni, Recensioni, Riconoscimenti | Discogs

Agalloch “The Mantle” (2002)

When I first fell in love with metal in the early 2000s I was hugely influenced by the albums released by The End Records at the time. Virgin Black’s Elegant…and Dying, Green Carnation’s Light of Day, Day of Darkness and Winds’ The Imaginary Direction of Time could have all appeared on this list but I have to give the top honours to Agalloch’s The Mantle.

I firmly believe that metalheads can be categorized into two groups: those who swear by The Mantle and those whose friends won’t stop recommending them The Mantle. Easily their most expansive record, The Mantle is a grey sky, coastal rain and cold wind put to sound. The atmosphere this album exudes is truly timeless and although their entire discography is flawless, The Mantle is their most unique release.

Opeth - Still Life - Amazon.com Music

Opeth “Still Life” (1999)

When discussing my personal guitar heroes, it’s difficult to place anyone but Mikael Akerfeldt at the top of the list and this album is the reason why.

Akerfeldt’s heavy riffs alone make Still Life a classic but when you add his unique and evocative acoustic fingerstyle playing the results are absolutely singular. Learning Benighted note-for-note was one of my first acoustic achievements and playing it through now remains just as rewarding.

Snow Goose | Amazon.com.br

Camel “The Snow Goose” (1975)

When I first discovered Opeth I had yet to discover prog rock but kept hearing Mikael Akerfeldt mention the band Camel.

I was working at a record shop at the time so I picked up their first four albums and immediately fell in love with them. Camel is one of those bands that doesn’t immediately grab your attention but manage to consistently reappear in your playlist until you realize you’ve been listening to them for 15 years.

Like many prog bands, the early albums are widely regarded as their classics with The Snow Goose being the peak for myself and many a prog fan. The recent concept album An Embarrassment of Riches from my instrumental chamber metal project The Night Watch is directly influenced by The Snow Goose, even if I didn’t realize until afterwards.

Mr. Beast | Mogwai

Mogwai “Mr. Beast” (2006)

In 2006 I was at a friend’s house whose roommate played in an instrumental band. I recognized a Godspeed You! Black Emperor record on his shelf and mentioned that I had never heard their music before. He proceeded to play me their Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP and I was converted to post-rock on the spot. He then mentioned that he had some songs from the upcoming Mogwai album Mr Beast and after playing me Glasgow Mega Snake and I Chose Horses I became a lifelong fan.

While GY!BE and Mogwai were both foundational to my love of post-rock I have to pick Mr. Beast as my most influential record of the genre. Although every Mogwai album is fantastic in its own right, Mr. Beast, to my ears, represents every facet of Mogwai’s sound at its most captivating.

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10 Recommended Covers Songs

Tributing other bands through covers has been always a tradition in rock and pop music since the early years, and there have always been basically two ways to approach to it:

There are copy-cut bands who cover their favourite artist’s track making it sound exactly as it was and there are others who completely changes the song’s formula and make their own one. Personally i usually prefer the second category, which is sometimes also the same case of a band that covers an unexpected song from an artist we didn’t even image they could like.

In this list there are some of my absolute favourite covers ever, usually different versions of songs i already use to enjoy very much.

Chris Brokaw – Canaris (2008, CD) - Discogs

Chris Brokaw “Drink the Poetry of the Celtic Disciple (Vlad Tepes cover)” (2008 – original 1994)

Deconstucting and tributing an already existing musical piece may be a hard challenge sometimes and, above all, a non certain success, but this is for sure an impressive case.

Chris Brokaw is well known as the founder of cult band Codeine, a band that during 90’s contributed to create the foundamental elements that compose slowcore and early post-rock; as a solo artist he released different types of music from slowcore/indie rock to acoustic and experimental music. This cover is taken from his album Canaris and it is an acoustic guitar instrumental version of a long epic song by raw black metal band Vlad Tepes, an act part of Les Legiones Noires collective, which was a cricle of very underground  french dark ambient and raw black metal projects that released only limited demo tapes.

The original version is of course one of the most lo-fi things you could ever hear (and it’s the same for the rest of the demo where it comes from), but in the same time it shows a very impressive songwriting and use of melody taking inspiration from classic heavy metal and the most interesting black metal around at the time. The demo is also a very rare cult release for people into underground black metal, and it is a very good surprise to see someone apparently with a completely different musical background making a such interesting version.

The cover is basically the opposite of the original: minimal, soft, elegant, but even if it’s totally revolutioned, it preserve its mysterious and magic vibes showing a very impressive and beautiful take on a track that was already inspiring.

Green Day “Working Class Hero (John Lennon cover)” (2007 – original 1970)

Back in 2007 a John Lennon tribute album entitled Instant Karma: The Amnesty Internation Campaign to Save Darfur was released, with the goal of supporting the cause of the aforementioned Sudan’s region devasted by conflicts, poverty and lack of resources. A lot of very famous acts partecipated (U2, R.E.M., Christing Aguilera and Duran Duran are just a few names), providing several good tributes to Lennon; this version of Working Class Hero in particular has been considerably boosted by the band showing a very strong interest for the cause.

Beside their punk roots Green Day have never hided their passion for classic rock, by showing some strong influences in some albums such as American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown and by playing various covers during their shows.

Working Class Hero is a difficult song to cover in a memorable way, on first because the original is played with just vocals and guitar and moreover because tons of famous artists have already covered it (Ozzy Osbourne and Marilyn Manson are just a few example), but beside that Green Day provided a massive and well crafted full band version of this classic, giving it even more passion and anger while showing also a strong respect and inspiration for the original version. There are some evident american folk vibes that are absolutely lovely and also the addition of some stunning lead guitar parts and solos that fits perfectly with the song. An excellent take on a classic.

√ Marc Ribot - SONGS OF RESISTANCE 1942-2018 - la recensione di Rockol.it

Marc Ribot & Tom Waits “Bella Ciao (Italian folk song cover)” (2018)

As an italian i can’t be more happy to listen to this cover of a folk song from my country played by two magnificent artists like Marc Ribot and Tom Waits together.

This is also a very particular and delicate chant since it has been created during the struggle between partisans and nazi-fascist oppressors in Italy; it is a song about freedom, love and it stands against the brutality and tyranny of fascism.

This fantastic duo re-interpreted this song adding some english verses and making a beautiful music video that shows images from american manifestations against Donald Trump’s recently ended government and his nationalist propaganda.

This version of the song is absolutely fantastic, with a strong emotional component and a very intimate vibe; the perfect soundtrack for a personal reflection about a certain type of modern politics, that even if have certainly left behind the atrocities of the past, sometimes still endangers the personal freedom of several communities through the weapon of ignorance.

This track is part of Marc Ribot’s album Songs of Resistance 1942-2018, which as the titles says, is a record composed by covers of protest songs.

The White Stripes - Hello Operator b/w Jolene (7")

The White Stripes “Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)” (2000 – original 1974)

Guitar player, singer and multi instrumentalist Jack White is certainly one of the greatest musicians active nowadays with its unique blend of blues rock inspirations and psychedelic explosions perfectly transposed in a modern rock context.

The White Stripes is probably the most famous of his bands and this cover, released by now more than 20 years ago, is still remembered as one of the highest live moments of the band’s shows.

This cover is actually pretty different from the original, especially beacue of a few choices that makes this version incredibly good, like the slower tempo change and the more melancholic and intimate mood that can be felt here. it’s also alwyas nice to see how Jack White’s style is influenced by american country (and of course the original version of the song was as well), without losing the ability of tranforming a very beautiful folk song into a rock ballad with a Led Zeppelin flavour. So, Mr White never disappoints, also his voice seems to be made for singing this song. Even if this cover has been originally released in 2000 as a b-side of the single Hello Operator, the live version released as a single in 2004 is probably more famous.

A Perfect Circle “Imagine (John Lennon cover)” (2004 – original 1971)

Yes, John Lennon again, and, spoiler, this is not even his last apparition on this list.

Well, i suppose we all know Imagine and it dosen’t need a particular introduction, i mean, maybe there are people living on this world that dosen’t, but it’s almost impossible to find them on a blog like this.

The main point that makes this cover so interesting is the overall atmosphere, which is completely opposite than the original version. I’m not only refering to the major chords transposed into minor chords, but to the fact that this is the perfect 30 years later counterpart of a song released in 1970 with a strong message of hope for humanity’s awareness on the evil made by war, diversity acceptance and the danger of the exploitation of our world. This version’s shows no hope, 30 years have passed and humanity is even worse compared to then, people are still doing the same brutal things and showing no respect for the others and for the world they live in. There’s also a very suggestive music video that shows all human’s cruelty and frivolity with many reflective and shocking images, most of them taken from real reportages.

Agape - Lantlôs - recensione

Lantlôs/Lìam “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Ryuchi Sakamoto cover)” (2012 – original 1983)

Like the Chris Brokaw case this is another cover that completely revolutioned the sound of the original, but since the Brokaw one was a guitar only version of a full band track, this is the opposite case (with piano instead of guitar).

From the homonime Nagisa Oshima movie (also known as Furyo), the original piece by Ryuchi Sakamoto is an incredibly beautiful and famous piano only track, written with the unique style of the multi awarded japanese composer, made of classical music references, japanese traditional music and contemporary composition. This cover have never been officially released, but only posted on Soundcloud back in 2012 (now it is available on YouTube only) and it is performed by members of both Lantlôs and Lìam. It’s incredible to see how certain beautiful melodies can perfectly arrive to the heart in the same emotional way, even if they are playd with a completely different style. Of course Markus Siegenhort and the others have an incredible taste in writing music and the heavy and slow post-rock of this musical piece has for sure an incredibly brethtaking impact. If you guys may ever read this article, please, consider to release this as an official single, it’s something the world definitely needs. Fantastic.

MEEKS - Beatless -Shoegazer Covers Of The Beatles- - Amazon.com Music

Meeks “Norwegian Wood (The Beatles cover)” (2013 – original 1965)

The Beatles’ music and shoegaze are not apparently two very distant universes, of course they are part of different periods, but they both have a certain songwriting sensitivity and come from the UK; even if this band, called Meeks, is actually a side project of members from Broken Little Sister from Yokohama, Japan.

Under this name, the ensemble have only released an album of The Beatles covers in shoegaze variant (entitled Beatless, as tribute to My Bloody Valentine’s Lovess already entirely covered on several compilations), which is par se a very original and interesting idea. The curiosity generated by the album’s idea is definitely worth to satisfy and all the 10 songs choosen by the band are perfectly re-arranged in a dreamy and ethereal way that fits so well to The Beatles’ classics.

Norwegian Wood is in particular one of the best episodes, preserving the psychedelic vibes of the original song, drowning the main melody in an ocean of reverbered guitars walls. It sounds like listening the actual song, but into a dream.

ULVER Childhood's End - Lost & Found From The Age Of Aquarius reviews

Ulver “Magic Hollow (The Beau Brummels cover)” (2012 – original 1967)

The norwegian experimental ensemble is certainly not new to covers; their version of Black Sabbath’s Solitude from their 2007 brillant album Shadow of the Sun is already a classic. But it’s with their 2012 album Childhood’s End entirely composed of covers that they have reached their best.

The record contains only songs from the 60’s psychedelic rock period and beside this stunning version of The Beau Brummels’ Magic Hollow, there are also other tributes of amazing bands such as 13th Floor Elevator, Electric Prunes, The Byrds and many more. Every song is played with the band’s own style and the whole album is an absolutely recommended experience.

Sticking to this cover in particular that’s incredible how the folk vibes and the intensity of such beautiful melodies are completely preserved even if reproposed in a modern context. Kristoffer Rygg’s vocals are so intense and the overall mood is absolutely magic and mysterious; after all the original version was already an incredible piece of music and Ulver is an amazing band, it seems to be the perfect formula for an excellent result.

Nadja “No Cure for the Lonely (Swans cover)” (2009 – original 1992)

Like the case of Ulver and Meeks this is another song taken from an album entirely made of covers. This time the band is Nadja, true experimental drone/fuzzy rock masters from Canada and then relocated to Germany, with an interesting album made of very bizzare choices revolutioned in their personal style; My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, Codeine Slayer and Elliot Smith are just some example of the tributes you’ll find on When i See the Sun Always Shines on TV. The Swans song i picked up is one of my favourite songs ever, so it’s been pretty natural to me to think about it when the idea of a cover list came to my mind, but i have to admit that there are several equally interesting others off this record i could pick up. Here Nadja explores their most heavy, fuzzy and sludgy side, that on this song is also fused with some very intense ethereal and dreamy vibes, creating a super massive guitar wall of sounds enriched by reverbered chants, melodic ambient loops and a slow repetitive drum machine pattern.

The original version is a brief beautiful song with just vocals and acoustic guitars, one of the highest points of Michael Gira’s poetry, and indeed i’ll never understand why it’s been used as a bonus track only present on some versions of Love of Life. This is a pretty good example of a song revolutioned with a completely different approach that mantains its emotional mood. it’s also actually surprising to see Nadja choosing this song in particular from Swans’ discography, since there’s plenty of songs that are already pretty close to their noisy style, but they probably wanted to be more creative and definitely did the right choice. There is also a live version of this cover from the previously released live album Trembled (2006), which is even more ethereal and intense.

Bosse De Nage / Deafheaven - Split - Vinyl LP - 2012 - US - Original | HHV

Deafheaven “Punk Rock/Cody (Mogwai cover)” (2012 – original 1999)

I have to admit i usually dislike a lot metal versions of non metal songs. Using abrasive distorted guitars and harsh vocals on classic or soft songs makes really no sense to me, and i’ll never understand why it is so common among metal bands, but this is one of the cases where i really enjoyed the operation.

Of course this is a sort of anomalous case, since Deafheaven is already a very borderline band with a style made of many different genres where metal is just one of them and their music is also probably closer to Mogwai than any traditional metal band around.

Indeed the use of guitars is definitely heavy but in a very shoegaze-y way, with a super intense loud tone and powerful noisy distortions, there are also piano, post-rock liquid arpeggios and effected loops, making screams the probably only metal element of the song.

This is actually a cover of two songs, respectively the intro and the first full track from Mogwai’s 1997 masterpiece Come on Die Young. On Punk Rock Deafheaven replaced the spoken word from Iggy Pop’s interview with William Faulkner’s nobel price aceptance while on Cody, that was a very calm song with tender vocals, they added distortions, powerful drumming and screams, but maintained perfecly the melancholic aura of the musical piece. After a short interlude with piano, clean guitar and shrieks in the background, the song explodes into an extremely emotional ending, with violent blast beats and post-rock tremolo euphoria. Even if covering any song from a masterpiece like Come on Die Young is a hard operation, Deafheaven definitely did it in the best way possible, creating an incredibly beautiful tribute, full of desperate sadness, deeply emotions and outstanding atmospheres. Impressive.

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10 Records with Don Anderson (Sculptured, ex-Agalloch)

Episode 39 - with guest Don Anderson (Agalloch, Sculptured) - Curated by  Mirai Kawashima (Sigh) - I Hate Music | Lyssna här | Poddtoppen.se

Musician and songwriter Don Anderson is better known as the lead guitarist of Portland based atmospheric metal band Agalloch, one of the most interesting musical outputs coming out of the metal universe at the end of 90’s and active until 2016.

Started as a studio project, Agalloch’s initial goal was mostly experimenting with melancholic music, taking influences from here and there and melting them into a unique sonic experience made of doom, black metal, early post-rock, neofolk, post-industrial, krautrock, psychedelia and progressive.

Agalloch is probably the best example of a band outside genres and speaking of Don in particular he has a very distinctive approach to his instrument providing very melodic metal guitar solos perfectly mixed with a classic rock attitude (that Gilmour/Pink Floyd influence on The Hawthorne Passage beautiful solo is evident) and folk sensitivity (the hazy EP The White (2004), the acoustic parts of The Mantle (2002), and in particular the track A Desolation Song completely written by him). His style was also complementary with John Haughm’s (the other guitar player and singer) way of playing that was more post-punk/Fields of the Nephilim inspired with some loud post-rock/GY!BE moments too (Limbs).

But Don Anderson’s music is not just Agalloch, his solo project Sculptured is another impressive band worth to listen. Started as a 90’s melodic extreme metal band with the first album The Spear of the Lily Is Aureoled (1998), he later enriched the band’s formula with some more epic and cinematic elements on the second Apollo Ends (2000) and finally destroyed all with the weird and abstract technical prog of the last album Embodiment (2008).

I’m very happy to have Don Anderson as guest for this new article, showing his personal 10 records list, which consist in albums that had a particular impact on him and his life, as a musician and as a listener.

Former Agalloch Guitarist Don Anderson on 'The White' & 'The Grey'  Reissues, Repairing His Relationship with John Haughm and a Live  Performance Video With Panopticon's Austin Lunn | Decibel Magazine

Buy Rising Force [180 gm black vinyl] Online at Low Prices in India |  Amazon Music Store - Amazon.in

Yngwie Malsteen “Rising Force” (1984)

If it weren’t for Malmsteen, I wouldn’t be playing guitar. 

The first record I heard was actually Trilogy, but this was and still is my favorite. 

To those who think Malmsteen is just a shredder, listen to the track Icarus Dream Suite Opus 4; so much feeling and a highly underrated vibrato.

Death: Human [1991] | RockWorld.vn

Death “Human” (1991)

As I gradually got into death metal I knew the music could achieve a high level of musicianship, but I didn’t really find it until I heard this record. 

I came from a formal musical background and although I loved the speed and extremity of both thrash and death metal, I really wanted a band that also had chops. 

Death was that band.

Original …And Justice for All Producer Explains Why He Didn't Work With  METALLICA

Metallica “And Justice for All” (1988)

This was a gateway album for me. 

My introduction to truly heavy music and thrash generally began with the gradual volume swell of the track Eye of the Beholder. That riff sounded so incredibly heavy to me.  It changed my life and musical trajectory. 

I stopped exclusively listening to guitar heroes and began to seek out other bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Sepultura, and soon after death metal and black metal.

J.S. Bach “Orchestral Suites” played by The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Neville Marriner (1971)

Bach was also a gateway composer for me. It was his music that showed me polyphony and how multiple melodies work together. 

It also helped that Malmsteen constantly talked about him. 

These suites are so powerful and perpetually revealing, as all of Bach’s music is.  After Bach I went straight to the 20th century and listened to Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and the experimental ones like Xenaxis, Nono, Cage, Ligeti, and Penderecki who I all love. 

But, if you were to ask me about the composer that matters the most to me, it’s J.S. Bach.

Maurice Ravel “String Quartet in F Major” played by The Emerson String Quartet (1990)

Yet another gateway work. 

As I said, I went from Bach to the 20th/21st century and skipped all the classical, romantic, and late-romantic composers. I wrote many of them off as too “ornate” or “excessive” in their lush orchestration. 

Honestly, I was just being close-minded and overly dogmatic about contemporary classical music with its atonality, inaccessibility, and difficulty.  But, this string quarter is simply brilliant. The 2nd movement with the plucked strings is the most famous part and for good reason. 

This led me to devour all things Ravel like the piano works and especially Tzigane. In his music I can hear the work of many 20th century composers like Reich and Glass; he really is a red thread leading to the minimalists of the 20th century. 

From Ravel, I finally opened up to Debussy, Saint-Saens, Borodin, and others.

Cover of ELP Brain Salad Surgery Album - Keep Contemporary

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973)

And this record was my gateway into progressive rock. 

I was a music theory student in college when I discovered ELP and found in them, as I did with Death, the perfect combination of musicianship and rock music. There was also enough weirdness to captivate my rebellious side as well. 

From here I discovered Van Der Graaf Generator, all the great Italian Prog bands, and finally prog from Germany, France, Belgium, Scandinavia, and South America.  I became a total prog-head.

The Royal Scam: Steely Dan: Amazon.it: Musica

Steely Dan “The Royal Scam” (1976)

The title track is a doom song.  I could see Bell Witch covering it. 

But, more importantly the guitar solo in Kid Charlamagne is easily one of my favorite guitar solos of all time.  Larry Carlton’s note choices and intervallic relationships are always surprising and pure ear candy. 

I’m a huge fan of the Dan with their precise recordings, hip lyrics, and again, incredible chops. They simply sound like no one else.

Various Artists “Grindcrusher: Earache Records Sampler” (1989)

So, to risk sounding like an old man… “back in the day” we didn’t have the Internet or the ability to literally hear anything, anywhere.  And if you were a 12–16-year-old kid, you didn’t have much money. 

So, I spent my money very carefully which meant maybe buying a tape a week.  Having access to a sample like this one allowed me to hear a whole lot of bands for the price of one cassette. 

So from here I got into Carcass, Entombed, Nocturnus, Carnage, OLD, Naked City, and many others.  This comp is so important to the history of death metal simply because it offered an affordable way for people to hear all these crazy bands.

Charles Mingus - Mingus Plays Piano LP - Superior Viaduct

Charles Mingus “Mingus Plays Piano” (1964)

Everyone knows Mingus as a composer and double-bassist, but not enough folks talk about how great of a piano player he was. 

I don’t think he played the piano that much, but this record reveals just how intimately connected he was to the piano. 

What you have here is an incredibly personal recording of Mingus improvising on the piano.  It’s captivating and inspiring.  Along with all the other great Mingus albums, this one remains in my top 3.

Current 93 - Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Current 93 “Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre” (1994)

During the mid to late 90s, I was really exploring outside the confines of metal. 

Current 93 was a group that wildly expanded my idea of experimental music, especially with the combination of electronics and acoustic guitar. 

I was also taken by David Tibet’s whole worldview: the combination of religion, the apocalypse, the occult, and childhood innocence. 

From here I explored what me and my friends all referred to as the “World Serpent Family” which was the label/distro at the time that released groups like Coil, Nurse with Wound, Legendary Pink Dots, and many others.  That whole post-Industrial scene was really inspirational.

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10 Records with Marco Soellner (Klimt 1918) (ITA / ENG)

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With their unique blend of decadent post-rock, emotional shoegaze and goth rock recalls, Klimt 1918 is with no doubt one of the most innovative and interesting bands active nowadays, contributing to enrich with impressive records the already wonderful roster of german label Prophecy Productions.

Born in Rome in 1999 by musicians who already played in several local metal and rock bands (the brothers Marco and Paolo Soellner with bassist Davide Pesola), Klimt 1918 have started crafting their own musical formula initially with an interesting demo (Secession Makes Post-Modern Music), but above all with the foundamental following albums Undressed Memento (2003) and Dopoguerra (2005), where they paints a cinematic world made of melancholic and nostalgic feelings evocated through excerpts of 80’s and 90’s music, liquid guitar soundscapes and enthrallic melodic vocal lines.

The formula is enriched and never repeated in the same way on the following record Just in Case We’ll Never Meet Again (2008), where they added a solid and consistent dose of post-rock nostaliga and then on the mastodontic double album Sentimentale Jugend (2016), where Klimt shows a darker, louder and even more dreamy side.

On this article, written in both italian and english, it’s my pleasure to have founder, composer and singer/guitarist Marco Soellner here to selected 10 records that had a particular impact on him, as an artist, as a songwriter and as a person.

Songs from the Big Chair: Tears for Fears: Amazon.it: Musica

Tears for Fears “Songs From the Big Chair” (1985)

Songs from the big Chair fu la prima musicassetta che io e mio fratello comprammo quando eravamo bambini. Ricordo che mio padre verso la metà degli anni ottanta cominciò a spronarci ad ascoltare musica che piacesse a noi, diversa quella che potevano scoprire nella sua collezione. Ci dava ogni tanto una cifra destinata appositamente all’acquisto di dischi, così comprammo questo album i cui singoli (Shout, Everybody Wants to Rule the World e Head over Hill) erano in heavy rotation su Videomusic. Ascoltammo questo disco tutti i giorni per mesi e poi per anni imparando ad amare anche brani intimisti meno conosciuti come The Working Hour, I believe e soprattutto Listen che è una perla assoluta, a metà strada tra synthpop e dream wave malinconica. Riascoltandoli dopo 35 anni mi sembra evidente che abbiano avuto un’influenza determinante nel mio modo di scrivere canzoni.

Songs from the Big Chair has been the very first cassette that me and my brother have ever bought when we were kids. I remember that my father around mid 80’s started to encourage us to listen to music we liked, different then the one we could discover from his collection.
Sometimes he used to give us some money intended specifically for the purchase of records, so we bought this album whose singles (Shout, Everybody Wants to Rule the World and Head over Hill) were in heavy rotation on Videomusic. We listened to this record every day for months and then for years, learning to love also lesser known songs such as The Working Hour, I believe and in particular Listen, which is an absolute jewel, halfway between synthpop and melancholic dream wave. Listening to them again after 35 years confirms to me in a very clear way that they had a decisive influence on my way of writing songs.

Blade Runner: O. S. T. -Blade Runner: Amazon.it: Musica

Vangelis “Blade Runner OST” (1982)

Un tempo ascoltavo questo disco per sfuggire all’insonnia e immedesimarmi in una dimensione remota, un futuro/passato bloccato tra i ricordi della mia infanzia e la malinconia per il domani che non ha mai trovato compimento. Continuo ad ascoltare la colonna sonora di Blade Runner nel cuore della notte, a bassissimo volume, quando non riesco a dormire e non trovo altra soluzione se non quella di aggrapparmi ai synth monofonici di Vangelis; anche se ora è come percorrere tutte le strade perdute delle mie aspirazioni. Blade Runner Blues, la canzone che più di tutte evoca la nostalgia lacerante per il non vissuto attua in me una sorta di disconoscimento: un Marco diverso, in un luogo diverso, in una città diversa, un lavoro diverso, persone diverse attorno a me come se da qualche parte nel passato, la linea del tempo fosse stata deviata in una tangente creando un oggi alternativo. Quella tangente è l’unica realtà percorribile, adesso. Del mio vero futuro rimane lo spettro, un aura ectoplasmatica, il segno di un quadro lasciato sul muro per decenni che non mi ricordo di aver mai appeso.

In the past I used to listen to this record as an escape to insomnia identifying myself in a remote dimension, a future/past stuck between memories of my childhood and melancholy for the future that has never found fulfillment. I still listen to the Blade Runner soundtrack in the middle of the night, at a very low volume, when I can’t sleep and I can’t find any other solution than holding myself to Vangelis’ monophonic synths; even if now it feels more like walking all the lost paths of my aspirations. Blade Runner Blues, the song that most of all evokes the piercing nostalgia for the unlived, implements a sort of disavowal in me: a different Marco, in a different place, in a different city, a different job, different people around me, like if somewhere in the past, the timeline had been deflected into a tangent creating an alternate today. That tangent is the only viable reality now. Of my actual future remains only the specter, an ectoplasmic aura, the mark of a painting left on the wall for decades that I don’t remember ever hanging.

Dead Can Dance – Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun | Just Direct

Dead Can Dance “Within the Realm of Dying Sun” (1987)

Within the Realm of Dying Sun è un sogno ombroso, una suggestione neoclassica fuori dal tempo. Ha il potere di astrarre l’ascoltatore dalla realtà che lo circonda e proiettarlo in una dimensione di sospensione e rarefazione. Ogni volta che lo ascolto mi sento come un archeologo che trova nel terreno le tracce di un antico dromos sepolto sotto le radici degli alberi. È tangibile la tensione verso il disseppellimento e il rinvenimento. Come se la musica fosse una discesa nella terra, fino alla soglia di una tomba ricavata nel tufo vecchia di tremila anni.

Within the Realm of Dying Sun is a shadowy dream, a timeless neoclassical suggestion. It has the power to abstract the listener from the reality he’s surrounded by and project him into a dimension of suspension and rarefaction. Every time I listen to it I feel like an archaeologist who finds in the ground the traces of an ancient dromos buried under the trees’ roots. The tension towards excavation and discovery is perceptible. As if the music was a descent into the earth, up to the threshold of a tomb carved into three thousand years old tuff.

The Story Behind The Album: Secrets of the Beehive, by David Sylvian

David Sylvain “Secrets of the Beehive” (1987)

Secrets of the Beehive è uno di quegli album usciti nella seconda parte degli anni ottanta che diluivano l’esperienza new wave nella sperimentazione cameristica, come stava succedendo all’altrettanto seminale Spirit of Eden dei Talk Talk. Un terreno sonoro che poi avrebbe dato i suoi frutti post rock all’inizio del decennio successivo. Sylvian lo registrò quasi per caso mentre stava collaborando con Holger Czukay dei Can a Plight and Premonition l’album ambient che i due fecero uscire alcuni anni dopo. Si tratta quindi di un’opera discontinua, scaturita dall’improvvisazione e da un’incessante ricerca. Lo considero difatti un album di appunti di viaggio. Una sorta di collezione di oggetti sonori raccolti qua e la, ognuno impregnato di sapori diversi ma accomunato dalla stessa aura malinconica e nostalgica. La splendida copertina di Vaughan Oliver che ritrae un arenile marino dove giacciono oggetti trasportati dalla risacca, ha poi indubbiamente influenzato questa mia percezione.

Secrets of the Beehive is one of those albums released in the second half of the 80’s that diluted the new wave experience into chamber experimentation, alongside the equally seminal Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk. A sound ground that would have then created the roots of post rock at the beginning of the following decade. Sylvian recorded it almost by accident while he was collaborating with Holger Czukay from Can on Plight and Premonition, the ambient album that the two released a few years later. It is therefore a discontinuous work, resulting from improvisation and incessant research. In fact, I consider this an album of travel notes. A sort of collection of sound objects taken from here and there, each imbued with different flavors but united by the same melancholic and nostalgic aura. Moreover Vaughan Oliver’s splendid cover, which portrays a seashore where objects transported by the surf lie, has undoubtedly influenced this perception I have on the album.

Fields Of The Nephilim, Elizium, Beggars Banquet,Vinyl LP , CD

Fields of the Nephilim “Elizium” (1990)

Ho ancora i brividi se penso alla prima volta che ho ascoltato questo disco, ormai 25 anni fa. Quello che mi ha subito colpito di Elizum è il lavoro straordinario svolto dai due chitarristi Paul Wright e Peter Yates. Le canzoni sono infatti disseminate di feedback, loop concentrici di tremolo, droni ambient e rumori che rendono il sound dell’album tridimensionale e affascinante. La lunga coda di At the Gates of Silent Memory è magia pura: una sorta di liquida, ripetitiva oscurità sovrastata dalla voce indimenticabile di Carl McCoy che declama testi criptici influenzati dalla mitologia sumerica. I brani poi sono tutti collegati tra loro, fusi in un unico stream emozionale. Nascono e muoiono in lunghe scie soniche. Trip totale.

I still have chills when I think about the first time I listened to this record 25 years ago. What immediately struck me about Elizum is the extraordinary work done by the two guitarists Paul Wright and Peter Yates. The songs are in fact soaked with feedbacks, concentric tremolo loops, ambient drones and noises that make the album’s sound three-dimensional and fascinating. The long At the Gates of Silent Memory is pure magic: a sort of liquid, repetitive darkness dominated by the unforgettable voice of Carl McCoy who declaims cryptic lyrics influenced by Sumerian mythology. The songs are also all linked together, merged in a single emotional stream. They are born and die in long sonic trails. Total trip.

Mark Hollis, where are you? I Talk Talk e la legge della sottrazione -  Limina | Rivista Culturale Online

Talk Talk “It’s My Life” (1984)

Ho amato tutte le incarnazioni dei Talk Talk: dal synthpop romantico degli esordi, passando per la svolta acustica intimista, fino alla definitiva destrutturazione post rock. Ma il mio disco preferito rimane It’s My Life forse perché mi ricorda l’infanzia negli anni ottanta e poi il periodo dei primi anni universitari in cui cominciavo ad approfondire seriamente la conoscenza dell’universo new wave. It’s My Life è sostanzialmente un album pop concepito per dominare le classifiche. Eppure in esso, come anche nel precedente omonimo debutto sono presenti in nuce tutti gli elementi che avrebbero poi contraddistinto la proposta musicale di Mark Hollis e Paul Webb, ovvero accordi minori, lirismo malinconico e un certo sotterraneo rifiuto dell’edonismo ottantiano.

I loved all the incarnations of Talk Talk: from the early romantic synthpop period, through the intimate acoustic turn, to the definitive post rock deconstruction. But my favorite record remains It’s My Life, perhaps because it reminds me of my childhood in the 80’s and then the period of my first university years in which I began to seriously deepen my knowledge on the new wave universe. It’s My Life is basically a pop album created for dominating music charts. Yet in it, as well as in the previous homonymous debut, all the elements that would later distinguish the musical proposal of Mark Hollis and Paul Webb are present in a nutshell; namely minor chords, melancholic lyrics and a certain rejection of 80’s hedonism.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 1999 - Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada -  PSYCANPROG

Godspeed You! Black Emperor “Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada” (1999)

È sempre arduo preferire un album nella discografia dei GY!BE. Io li amo tutti e non smetto mai di citarli nei miei ascolti. Stavolta scelgo Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada, un EP uscito nel 2000 che contiene Moya quella che io ritengo la loro più bella canzone di sempre. Si tratta di una reinterpretazione della terza sinfonia (Symfonia pieśni żałosnych) di Henryk Górecki sviluppata su un unico, imponente crescendo. Alla fine del settimo minuto, dopo un lungo climax il brano esplode in una cavalcata epica e tristissima. Uno dei momenti più alti del post rock cameristico. Come tutti i prodotti Constellation anche SRFNZK ha un layout semplice ma elegantissimo con scritte e disegni dorati su carta nera opaca color antracite. In copertina è riprodotto il Tohu VaVohu (Senza forma e vuoto) un passo/pittogramma della Bibbia tratto dalla Genesi, nel retro invece lo schema per la realizzazione di una bomba Molotov in italiano. Una sorta di sistema simbolico sulla condizione umana compresa tra la creazione e la rivolta, ovvero il suo momento culminante. La commistione di citazioni religiose/spirituali e politica militante è un tratto della poetica dei GY!BE che ho sempre trovato molto affascinante. Trovo completi la dimensione ieratica e solenne della loro musica.

It’s always hard to choose a favourite album from GY!BE’s discography. I love all of them and I always mention them when I talk about my listenings. This time I choose Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada, an EP released in 2000 that contains Moya, which is according to me their best song ever. It is a reinterpretation of Henryk Górecki’s third symphony (Symfonia pieśni żałosnych) developed on a single, imposing crescendo. At the end of the seventh minute, after a long climax, the song explodes into an epic and very sad section. One of the highest moments of post rock chamber music. Like all Constellation releases, SRFNZK also has a simple but very elegant layout with golden lettering and drawings on matt anthracite black paper. On the cover there’s a reproduction of the Tohu VaVohu (Without form and void) a passage/pictogram of the Bible taken from Genesis, on the back instead there’s the scheme for the realization of a Molotov cocktail in Italian. A sort of symbolic system on the human condition between creation and revolt, in other words, its climax. The mix of religious/spiritual quotes with militant politics is a trait of GY!BE’s poetic that have always fascinated me.I think it fulfill the solemn dimension of their music.

A SILVER MT. ZION He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace  The Corner Of Our Rooms reviews

A Silver Mount Zion “He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms…” (2000)

Nati da una costola dei GY!BE, gli A Silver Mount Zion hanno sviluppato nel tempo uno stile più punk e sperimentale rispetto a quello della band madre. Nonostante tutto, però questo disco, che rappresenta il loro esordio discografico, risulta ancora legato alla matrice post rock/cameristica anche se con qualche eccezione/divagazione vocale, che poi diventerà l’elemento caratterizzante degli album successivi. Mi riferisco soprattutto a 13 Angels Standing Guard ’round the Side of Your Bed, un brano costruito su delle tracce di cantato fatte suonare al contrario che donano alla composizione un atmosfera fantasmagorica assurda. Forse la canzone più spettrale e malinconica che abbia mai ascoltato.

Started by three members of GY!BE, A Silver Mount Zion have developed over the time a more punk and experimental style compared to their parent band. But even so, this album, which represents their discographic debut, is still linked to the post rock/chamber style even if with some exceptions/vocal digressions, that will later become characterizing elements of the following albums. I am referring in particular to 13 Angels Standing Guard ’round the Side of Your Bed, a song built on vocal tracks played backwards that give the composition an absurd phantasmagoric atmosphere. Perhaps it is the most spooky and melancholic song I’ve ever heard.

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell  the Truth Shall Live Forever reviews

Explosions in the Sky “Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever” (2001)

Sono molto legato a questo disco perché l’ho ascoltato per la prima volta di notte, in treno, mentre tornavo da Parigi nel lontano 2003. Ricordo che all’improvviso il convoglio si è fermato in mezzo alla campagna e il personale ci ha fatto evacuare a causa di un incendio. Ho ancora chiara in testa l’immagine delle fiamme altissime che si sprigionavano da una delle carrozze e illuminavano i campi avvolti nell’ombra. Io avevo ancora le cuffie con Those Who Tell the Truth che girava nel cd player portatile. Mi sembrò quasi un segno del destino, una sorta di predestinazione aver ascoltato per la prima volta una band con un moniker così perfettamente armonizzato a quella visione assurda e affascinante.

I am very attached to this record because I’ve listened to it for the first time at night, during a train travel, on my way back from Paris back in 2003. I remember that all of a sudden the convoy stopped in the middle of the countryside and the staff evacuated us due to a fire. I still have a clear image of the towering flames rising from one of the carriages and enlightening the fields shrouded in shadow. I still had headphones on with Those Who Tell The Truth running through the portable cd player. It seemed almost a sign of destiny, a kind of predestination to have heard for the first time a band with a moniker so perfectly harmonized with that absurd and fascinating vision.

Burzum - Filosofem Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Burzum “Filosofem” (1996)

Scelgo di inserire Filosofem nella mia lista per due motivi: per testimoniare la mia lunga appartenenza al movimento death/black metal, iniziata nei primi anni 90 e conclusasi due lustri più tardi, e per ricordare a me stesso come quell’esperienza dello spirito non sia stata casuale ma invece legata a un preciso modo di stare al mondo. Qualcosa che non si perde mai del tutto con il passare degli anni ma si trasforma in una sensibilità differente e complementare. Burzum testimonia molto bene questa circolarità. I sui riff sono concentrici, come droni che catturano il pensiero e lo fanno girare e focalizzare sul trascendente. In virtù della sua natura meditativa questo black metal è eterno. Si è adattato a stagioni diverse della mia vita e continua a fare parte delle mie giornate. Brani come Gebrechlichkei e Rundgang Um Die Transzendentale Saule Der Singularitat sono scivoli verso l’infinito, strade di accesso alla religiosità, anche se si parte da solide basi laico materialiste. Non mi sono mai preoccupato di approfondire troppo la poetica norrena di Varg Vikernes. Non mi interessa il suo modo di vedere il mondo. Non ho mai considerato il suo personaggio politico/messianico. Ascolto da 25 anni la sua musica unicamente per foraggiare la mia personale, privata psichedelia.

I decided to include Filosofem on my list for two reasons: to testify to my longtime membership in the death/black metal movement, started during early 90’s and ended two decades later, and to remind myself how that experience of the spirit was not random, but instead linked to a specific way of staying in the world. Something that you’ll never completely lost over the years, but that becomes a different and complementary sensitivity. Burzum testifies this circularity very well. His riffs are concentric, like drones that capture thoughts and make them spin and focus them on the transcendent. By virtue of its meditative nature this black metal is eternal. It has adapted to different seasons of my life and continues to be part of my days. Tracks like Gebrechlichkeit and Rundgang Um Die Transzendentale Saule Der Singularitat are slides towards infinity, access roads to religiosity, even if everything starts from solid materialistic laical basis. I’ve never been interested to delve too deeply into Varg Vikernes’ Norse poetics. I don’t care how he sees the world. I’ve never ever considered his political/messianic persona. I have been listening to his music for 25 years solely to feed my personal, private psychedelia.

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Album Lists

10 Great Records of 2020

2020 has been a hard year with no doubt at all; alongside the millions of things related to Covid-19 that forced us to change our way of living, music has been hit as well.

Tons of tours and festival has been erased or postponed and we don’t see any band playing live since a very long time, but fortunately many albums has been released (actually more than expected due to a forced quarantine), and we can still enjoy listening to some great new music.

This list is intended to gather a few recommended records released in 2020 in no particular order with no limits of genre or way of distribution.

At the end of the article you’ll also find a list with some additional records i enjoyed as well.

Liturgy - Origin of the Alimonies

Liturgy “Origin of the Alimonies”

Last year the brooklyn based experimental metal band surprised us with a great comeback after 4 years with a new album called H.A.Q.Q., an excellent record made with Liturgy’s classic formula.

After just over a year Hunter-Hunt Hendrix’s band is already out with a new incredible masterpiece, bringing to another level its sound and enriching it with avant-garde and classical music elements with an operatic structure divided in movements played with a band composed by 12 members.

Needless to say this album is a really unique experience, providing undoubtely the most well crafted hybridation with classical music that black metal has ever seen; it seems like Liturgy has finally acheived the sound Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has been looking for years, which reminded me a sort of metal version of Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

This of course dosen’t mean the previous works were inferior, since we’re talking about a band that has always evolved its sound on every album in an unique way, but simply that they have been able to express exactly the real nature of the project in the best way possible; this achievement has also happened when Hunt-Hendrix came out as a transgender woman, opening herself in a really touching way through an Instagram post.

In conclusion i think we could surely affirm that Liturgy is one of the most interesting and original bands active nowadays and that Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is a true visionary genius:

if you want to start a really unusual philosophical opera journey made of modern classical music, avant-garde dissonances, black metal explosions with a few trap beats and electronic glitches don’t miss this record and the previous single Antigone in collaboration with Leya.

Recensione: Rina Sawayama - Sawayama | Uptempo Magazine

Rina Sawayama “Sawayama”

One of the best debuts this year comes by the british/japanese born singer Rina Sawayama, providing a very genuine and inspired pop record named after just her surname.

One of the things that surprises more is how much Rina Sawayama is inspired by 2000s music which may be pop, dance, rock or even nu metal. Just to take an example STFU! has some super punching nu metal inspired guitar explosion, but it later evolves into a perfect meodic pop chorus that reminds the most catchy  songs by Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey. Her voice is also super versatile and expressive, perfectly matchable to many different contexts; Indeed on this records you’ll find explosive songs (STFU!), dance pop well-crafted tunes (Comme Des Garcons), trap inspired modern pop (Akasaka Sad) or perfect songs to sing at loud (Paradisin’, Tokyo Love Hotel), without forgetting some more touching moments with very well written lyrics (Chosen Family).

Yung Lean - Starz LP - Smekkleysa SM // BadTaste SM

Yung Lean “Starz”

Oh yeah, the most eclectic and “mystical” swedish rapper has come back with a new record after the wonderful Strangerz of 2017, and it sounds exactly as you could expect its continuation.

Sad and dreamy tunes are still the main element that mark out Yung Lean’s cloud rap, perfect to be enjoyed during an insomniac night with lights out (or even with just a green soft neon light that reminds the album cover’s colour) and total calm around.

Productions is still very impressive, especially for the massive use of hypnagogic synths, dreamy melodies, ambient-like enrichments, effected guitars and weird sounds, offering for sure some excellent cloud rap songs like Outta my Head, but seeing also Yung Lean providing some more psychedelic oriented moments like the excellent Starz with the wonderful guest partecipation of Ariel Pink or the hypnotic Dancer in the Dark.

If you’re looking for a trip made of sad vibes and magic sound layers this is probably your thing.

HOW I'M FEELING NOW - MP3 | Charli XCX US

Charli XCX “How i’m Feeling Now”

A forced global quarantine in the digital era may have for sure a positive effect on artists or creative minds in general, having finally enough time to make order within their ideas.

Looks like Charli XCX’s last album How i’m Finally Now is one of the best products realized during quarantine and her best release so far.

The british futuristic popstar probably dosen’t need any particular presentation and on this record she has found an even more distinctive and solid identity for her sound, switching intelligently across future synth pop, very catchy autotuned vocal melodies, easy listening solutions, digital glitches and trap-like beats.

Now image yourself listening to Claws, Party 4 u or Visions a decade ago; doesn’t this music sounds exactly as your idea of “pop from the future”? How you’re feeling now?

SVALBARD, When I Die Will I Get Better? - The New Noise

Svalbard “When I Die, Will I Get Better?”

One of the most interesting hardcore/post-metal hybrid bands is finally back with its third album; i’m talking about Svalbard from Bristol, UK and their new record When I Die, Will I Get Better? (Looks like pessimistic titles are a trademark for every full-length), which is definitely a true gem among the heavy music releases of the year.

Compared to the previous works here the band pushes its art over a more lighter and dreamy sound, which reminds a bit of last Alcest album Spiritual Instinct, but of course in a more hardcore way.

That’s always incredible how much the band is able to create very emotional and intense soundscapes mixing heartbreaking melodies with political and melancholic lyrics; alongside the strong post-rock oriented guitar work (that sounds more chrystalline than ever) a special mention goes to Serena Cherry’s clean vocals that found a lot of space on this new album (check What Was She Wearing or Pearlescent) offering incredibly cathartic moments.

Recensione: Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou - May Our Chambers Be Full

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou “May Our Chambers Be Full”

Putting togheter two of the most inspired and talented acts around today is for sure a certain way to get something qualititatively relevant, but due to the different nature of both Thou and Emma Ruth’s music i was super curious about what expecting from this album, even if i already knew it would have been great before even listening to it.

Moreover this collaboration is not a completely new thing since they already played a set together at the mighty Roadburn Festival in Holland back in 2019, but on the studio side this is the first work that sees the partecipation of both (and it’s not even the last, since there’s a bonus EP on the way).

Based on Thou standards this may be considered less aggressive and more melodic and not so different in comparison with Emma Ruth’s latest releases, even if it’s for sure super heavy with insanely low guitar tuning, which is strangely in perfect harmony with Emma’s delicate voice and softer moments.

In conclusion the overall result is porbably the perfect mixture of both styles, alternating more dreamy post-rock moments with devasting sludge metal shots with insane high pitched screams. A special mention goes to guitar compositions able to switch from more elegant arpeggios to low tune heavy chords and typically metal harmosied twists.

Dead Kids, R.I.P. City | Soft Kill

Soft Kill “Dead Kids R.I.P. City”

Undoubtely one of the most notable bands alongside Drab Majesty if we talk about post-punk revival. With several albums in their discography that explores various different aspects of gothic rock universe (which makes the band’s sound pretty variegated), this record offers some more lighter vibes and it’s definitely highly recommended.

A strong sense of nostalgia permeats the atmospheres in this album, it’s not desperate or necessarily dark, but it gives the same emotion that you feel when you remember of past moments and periods that will never come back.

Lyrics are indeed narrating facts happened in the past and memories related to them; every track is a different characters that tells a different story related to Portland, Oregon.

This is a romantic journey made of vitrious guitars melting into liquid melodies, some choruses and main riffs are impossible to forget (who’s still singing the melodies in Floodgate’s intro or the instrumental chorus of Crimey after a listen?) and the experience is pretty distinctive, confirming Soft Kill as one of the most interesting bands active nowadays.

ROPE SECT - The Great Flood

Rope Sect “The Great Flood”

After a pretty good record made in 2017 and entitled Personae Ingratae this obscure project has come back this year with a new album that pushes their sound in an even more convincing and mature direction.

The style of Rope Sect is a sort of post-punk/gothic rock with absolutely distinctive and catchy riffs and some very sinister moments that on this record sees a pretty strong metal contamination hearable on many guitar harmonisation, a few double kick/blast beats drums accelerations and even a little harsh scream cameo on the song Diluvian Darkness.

The haunting vocal work is very interesting and well made, also the always reverbered guitars are giving to the atmospheres a strong and captivating personality, which is absolutely irresistible for all those who likes enthralling rock with dark vibes.

Even if this is pretty original, if we should have to found some comparisons the more immediate would be probably Fields of the Nephilim or even bands like Christian Death or Sisters of Mercy with a strong Agalloch-like melancholic flavour.

Highly recommended.

clipping.: Visions of Bodies Being Burned Album Review | Pitchfork

clipping. “Visions of Bodies Being Burned”

Alongside Run The Jewels mastodontic fourth album (yeah it’s not on this list, but it’s absolutely worth to check), this is definitely one of the highest moments of the year related to hip-hop.

Certainly clipping. and their claustrophobic industrial rap are not new for all lovers of alternative music and this album provides essentially a confirm of their greatness.

This record is the conceptual continuation of the previous There Existed and Addiction to Blood and with its abrasive electronic obsessive beats, dark soundscapes, glitch-y noises and aggressive rapping punchlines provides a unique minimal and avantgardistic weird rap opera.

Another worth to mention point of this records are certainly some collaborations with many great artists able to let the album taking different shapes in a really cohesive way. For example Los Angeles female rap duo Cam & China brings a killer flow to the song ’96 Neve Campbell, as well as Ho99o9 do on Looking Like Meat with their punk rap aggression; But also the weird contributions of Joe Lester from Intronaut on bass (Check the Lock), guitarist Jeff Parker (Eaten Alive) and experimental artists Greg Stuart (on the short interlude Invocation) and Sickness (Body For The Pile) give a very original intention to the album.

It’s also impossible to forget the ending song Secret Piece which is the reinterpretation of a Yoko Ono avant-garde track featuring almost all the guests building a very solid instrumental wall made of loops, atmospheric layers and even saxophone, cello, guitar and double bass.

Plantgazer | Show Me a Dinosaur

Show Me a Dinosaur “Plantgazer”

In the abscence of a Deafheaven album this year (even if there’s a cool live album called 10 Years Gone) this has been for sure the best replacement, since this russian project is one of the closest things to them i’ve heard, but fortunately without sounding like a clone band.

Plantgazer is a fantastic album, full of heartbreaking moments and really emotional vibes putting what remains of the blackgaze micro genre into an ocean made of the best of modern post-rock with some strong This Will Destroy You and Explosions in the Sky references.

It’s impossible to resist to the wonderful sparkly melodies of Marsh that arrive directly to your heart or to the enthralling bass driven section of the opening Sunflower.

If you’re looking for touching music while contemplating a winter sunrise, this quartet from Saint Petersburg with such a likable name has provided you the perfect soundtrack; You can liquefy your soul and letting it drown across chrystalline arpeggios, furious blast beats, suffering screams, loud Mono-like guitar tremolo sections and Sunbather inspired crescendos.

Unmissable!

Other Honorable Mentions:

Touché Amoré “Lament”

Run The Jewels “RT4”

Jesu “Terminus”

Ichiko Aoba “Windswept Adan”

Kataayra “Toda História pela Frene ”

Anna Von Hausswolf “All Thoughts Fly”

Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher”

Shame “Uniform”

Adrianne Lenker “Songs”

Ulver “Flowers of Evil”

Tired Lion “Breakfast for Pathetics”

Shedfromthebody “A Dead and Aimless Hum”

Categories
Album Lists

10 early post-rock records

Even if right now the word post-rock is refered to a rock subgenre with some very specific characteristic, back during the 90’s it was just an umbrella term used to gather bands with a strong experimental and emotional vibes playing a style with rock roots, but almost impossible to label.

Among the early post-rock bands there are literally projects of every kind, sometimes also very different from each others, taking inspiration from a huge variety of genres including jazz, prog, pop, ambient or darkwave, but usually filtered by an evident hardcore punk attitude.

Here on this list there are 10 records from the early post-rock period you can take as essentials, but of course there are many other important exclusions that will be probably included on a second list.

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Labradford “Labradford” (1996)

Cult band coming from Richmond, Virginia and active between 1991 and 2001. Labradford is one of the most unique and talented projects ever existed, and this album in particular is a true hidden gem shining into the 90’s underground. Even if this is not the only masterpiece from their dioscgraphy is for sure the more indicated to consider if we’re talking about post-rock.

From the beginning to the end this is a beautiful journey across incredible soundscapes and emotional architectures made of whispering vocals, chrystalline guitars, strings and keyboards.  The whole atmosphere is quiet and evocative from the addictive psychedelic keyboards of Pico to the galloping tremolo guitars of Battered.

Labradfor is the Soundtrack of your more pleasant and hidden dreams.

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Bark Psychosis “Hex” (1994)

Leaded by Graham Sutton, Bark Psychosis from London is another cult band, less known compared to many bands who conied the post-rock genre, but important in the same way.

This album, Hex, sounds like anything else ever done, and it is recognized as an absolute masterpiece that every postrocker on earth should’ve listen at least one time.

The musical style is way hard to describe, it shares for sure a calm vibe for its full duration as most of the albums on this list, but offers a completely original experience, super experimental, but still accessible. Drifting across these melodies and drowning into their peaceful vibes is highly recommended, the beautiful semi-jazz drum patterns and the weird bass lines are always hearable and they weave a very distinctive rhythmic substratum upon which develops an introspective vocal work accompanied by always beautiful melodies played by piano, guitar, harmonica, synths and organ; It’s impossible to not melt your heart into the tunes of Absent Friend, Eyes & Smiles or Pendulum Man.

This is undoubtely a good example of an album that can be definitely labeled as post-rock (when it wasn’t already “a thing”), but it’s still completely free from the bonduaries of a single genre.

Risultato immagini per talk talk spirit of eden"

Talk Talk “Spirit of Eden” (1988)

Spirit of Eden or Laughing Stock? This question blizzed in my head for several hours when i decided to write an article about early post-rock and include Talk Talk and i’m still not fully convinced by my decision. Well, for sure they’re both wonderful albums and seminal works for the post-rock genre, but i ended up chosing Spirit of Eden because it’s been a completely new and revolutionary musical manifesto regarding Talk Talk’s discography and rock music in general, in other words this is probably the first post-rock record ever released.

Formed in 1981 by Mark Hollis, Lee Harris and Paul Webb, Talk Talk is definitely more know for addictive synth pop hits like It’s my Life (also covered by No Doubt 19 years later) or Such a Shame (both 1984), but at the end of their carreer they suprisingly decided to take a completely opposite direction, very experimental, melancholic and introspective with two incredible records of which the first is Spirit of Eden.

Taking inspiration from an evident british progressive and baroque rock background passing though jazz and chamber music there’s still a distinctive singing oriented formula in several parts of this incredible journey; but the amazing vocal performance of Mark Hollis is not the only memorable thing of this album, you won’t be so able to forget the guitar explosions of Desire or the hypnotic fretless bass lines of Inheritance.

Risultato immagini per godspeed f a"

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997)

“The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel” with these words declaimed by a deep male voice starts one of the most incredible rock records of the 90’s.                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor (at the time known as Godspeed You Black Emperor!) have done a real musical and conceptual revolution with their art able to touch people in their deepest emotions; This is the first album of the Canadian ensamble released after a rare previous demo and it is available in two separate versions for vinyl and CD with different tracklist.

If you’ve never heard of this record before, it’s gonna be a journey that will change your life, the endless songs are separated in movements like operatic acts and they switch from classical music-inspired parts with violin and cello to cinematic western passages including drone, ambient and experimental sections with field recordings and loop samples. The first macro track The Dead Flag Blues is incredible in all its progressions showing a very sad and melancholic overall feeling that turns with the following East Hastings into all the anger and the discomfort regarding this society that our anarchist orchestra has to express with a strong anti-capitalist political content and an incredibly inspired artistic sensitivity rarely heard in rock music in general.

Every GY!BE record is very special and meaningful and their singular personality is also expressed in the intricated tables present in their layouts and behind the visuals screened during their concerts.

Risultato immagini per low i could live in hope"

Low “I Could Live in Hope” (1994)

Low is undoubtely one of the most solid acts coming from 90’s alternative rock, with a very intense live activity and 12 records published as of today.

I Could Live in Hope is the beginning of everything, the first album released by Low and the undisputed symbol of the slowcore subgenre, which is essentially early post-rock with a very sad and slow overall mood and some grunge-y recalls. Needless to say this record is a beautiful journey across grey landscapes made of intense guitar intersections, strong basslines and suggestive male and female vocal parts with introspective lyrics.

ICLIH is essentially the portrait of an american generation that shows all its fragilities and uncertainities through sad melodies and verses like “If you see my daughter don’t tell her I’m scared” (Fear) or “Hearing only yourself you wait for the truth, how can you get it When all you do Is slide?”  (Slide).

It is the perfect soundtrack for a melancholic moment and the best antitode to turn it into a reflective one: If you close your eyes while Lullaby or Lazy are playing in your headphones you might be able to fall into the deepness of your calm and forget all the rest.

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Tortoise “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” (1996)

Formed in Chicago at the end of the 80’s, Tortoise is one of the most eclectic, versatile and innovative names in the whole post-rock universe and this album is probably the best way to get into their weird world if you’ve never heard of them before.

This work is also know for the introduction of the guitrist David Pajo (already founding member of Slint) and for the story of its composition made during a 10 days retreat in Northern Vermont.

The way Tortoise explore different musical genres and cultures is highly impressive, mixing instrumental rock and almost jazz rhythmic sections, with electronic glitches, fusion, krautrock, baroque music and even world music recalls like the marimbas and the mallet percussions on the monumental Djent, which is an admirable example of experimentation.

But Tortoise’s music is not only unconventional and strange, the band is absolutely able to create beautiful melodic sections like the unforgettable guitar lines on Glass Museum, one of their most love tracks and a real jewel of contemporary rock.

Risultato immagini per mogwai young team"

Mogwai “Mogwai Young Team” (1997)

I honestly doubt that this scottish band needs any kind of introduction since they are, alongside Sigur Ros, one of the biggest names of the whole post-rock movement, giving the genre a worlwide notoriety also across more mainstream channels.

Mogwai Young Team is the band’s debut album, and shares with the world an absolute genuine explosion of feelings across emotional instrumental passages a la GY!BE with spoken words (Tracy), post-hardcore dissonances (Like Herold), heavy sections (Summer) and positive alternative rock vibes with somehting similiar to Smashing Pumpkins (Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home).

The strong dynamic between soft sections and heay passages is very impressive and gives a rare to hear intense charge to this album, making the experience crushing and cinematic. The climax is probably concentrated in the final Mogwai Fear Satan which is a colossal 16 minutes tracks with an incredibly strong impact and charge, so intense that they still play it at the end of their sets after more than 20 years.

Risultato immagini per codeine frigid stars"

Codeine “Frigid Stars” (1991)

With Low, Codeine is definitely another foundamental name regarding the slowcore subgenre.

Formed in 1989, they have been a short lived project with only two album realsed of which this is the first.

Even if the overall mood is certainly slow and melancholic, there is for sure a very explosive Swans inspired component, especially in guitar distortions and dissonances that definitely makes this record strong and solid. The album moves across different sections including heavy parts with open chords as well as more intimate folk-inspired interludes with guitar and vocals.

The post-rock is also particulary evident in a few melodic moments such as the whole song New Years, that contains all the elements that belongs to the post-rock genre also in its more modern variant.

Schoepenauer wrote that life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom, i would say that Frigid Stars is kinda doing the same but moving between depression and euphoria.

Risultato immagini per slint spiderland"

Slint “Spiderland” (1991)

One of the most iconic cult records of the whole history of rock, with an iconic cover as well.

Made of sad moments, dissonances, spoken words and heartbreaking lyrics this album is a hard to swallow pill and fully getting into it needs a small effort, but as soon as you’ve done it you’ll discover an incredible journey of sounds and emotions.

One of the things that makes this album so good is for sure the ability of switching from extremely slow and soft parts to heavy overtures mainting a dreary atmosphere. Washer is a very beautiful ballad with very intense guitar melodies that expresses fear, loss and abandonment, For Dinner… is another worth to mention episode with a very strong emotional impact. The conclusive Good Morning… Captain shows the best of the band’s heavy side with massive feedbacks and distortions.

At the guitar we find David Pajo, founding member of the band and already met on this list on Millions Now Living Will Never Die by Tortoise.

Risultato immagini per don caballero what burns"

Don Caballero “What Burns Never Returns” (1998)

If you’ve never heard this before i bet your first reaction will be totally upsetting and you’ll find many difficults to follow the music’s tempo and the instrumental interweaving.

Before it was a cool thing, Don Caballero have experimented considerably and explored new combinations outside the conventional limits imposed by rock’s rhthmyc structures giving fundamental tools to plasm the so called math rock genre.

This is the third album recorded by Don Caballero and it’s definitely one of their best ones, able to provide a wonderful melodic work clearly post-hardcore oriented despite the weird parts here and there. This should be listened from the beginning to the end as a whole experience, in a calm moment or even during a night driving.

Categories
Album Lists

10 Great records of 2019

2019 has been a year full of interesting albums and longtime comebacks from bands and artists of every kind.

This is my very first article written fot this new personal blog, said that, i think it’s important to point out that this list (and all the others that i’ll post in the future) is not intended to be a chart with a first and a last position, it’s just a selection of 10 really good 2019 albums accompanied by a short description i’d like to recommend to everyone who opens this page.

Alcest “Spiritual Instinct”

Follower of Kodama (2016), this new record is a really good comeback for the french duo leaded by Neige and it’s the first one released by the colossal metal label Nuclear Blast; But beside that it dosen’t show big changes in the band’s sound and the fewest new things are all well managed like the heavy distortions that recalls a really massive post-metal sound in the vein of Neurosis and Russian Circles balanced with super rock Emma Ruth Rundle-like moments (Sapphire is the best example and it shows an almost perfect and genuine songwriting).

It’s always good to see projects that started from the very underground like Alcest getting always bigger and mainting a very honest and coherent artistic identity.

American Football “LP3”

With a strong excitement from the band’s die hard fans, the new American Football’s wait has been undoubtely worth. Anticipated by the hypnotic Unconfortably Numb with the special contribution of Hayley Williams from Paramore, the album gives the same relaxed, sleepy and emotional atmosphere of this single track for its whole duration. Beautiful, thirlling, quite and very intense, perfect to enjoy during a train/car/whatever travel when it’s dark outside.

Blanck Mass “Animated Violence Mind”

With its weird aesthetic, the new Black Mass’ album is a disturbing travel across very catchy tunes and more aggressive outbursts. Love is Parasite’s videoclip is a true gem of weirdness and its scenes seems taken from David Lynch or David Cronenberg’s movies accompanied by perfectly crafted melodies.

Giving a listen to this albums means diving into a very eclectic electronic sound that switches from EBM moments with harsh screams to piano driven cinematic soundscapes with overwhelming singing (listen to House vs House if you want a proof of what i’m saying).

Blood Incantation “Hidden History of the Human Race”

If the previous Starspawn was one of the most well realized extreme metal albums of the last 5 years (and believe me it was), with this new one the four piece band from Denver has been able to reach a higher level with impeccable songwriting and hypnotic passages. The heavy parts still shows a massive and almost perfect approach to guitar driven outburst, but with a totally unique taste for experimentation. The whole album sounds like a cosmic trip across astral planes in a semiconscious state.

A special mention goes also to the cover art by 70’s painter Bruce Pennington that gives the album a sci-fi and Philip K.Dick-esque aesthetic (interesting fact – there are two other albums around using this cover: Agony’s Apocalyptic Dawing and Alec Empire’s Hypermodern Jazz 2000.5, both released in 1995).

Elizabeth Colour Wheel “Nocebo”

After a series of really interesting minor releases, the US based 5 piece band has finally released their debut album Nocebo, one of the most interesting rock albums of the outgoing year.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel is with no doubt one of that bands that sounds like nothing else already existing with a unique formula made of shoegaze sparks, noise rock outbursts, metal oriented parts with fast drumming, slow heavy passages and cinematic epicity. If you want to hear explosive guitar distortion accompanied by a unique and super flexible female vocal work you’re going to discover one of your next favourite bands and albums.

Liturgy “H.A.Q.Q.”

Here we go, it’s been 4 years from The Ark Work’s release and the quartet from Brooklyn leaded by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is finally back with another impressive record. Even if a first listen will suggest a comeback to the roots this is not entirely true, for sure black metal screams are back and many atmospheres from the Aesthetica/Renihlation period can be felt, but the fine use of electronica made of glitches and MIDI sounds started with the Ark Work is still present and it’s perfectly matched with the rest.

Also the massive use of classical instruments such as harp, strings and piano (there are even some exotic instruments like hichiriki and ryuteki) takes Liturgy’s music to another level of high quality composition exploring new musical horizons and strange a-rhythmic sections accompanied by the usual philosophical tables and concepts that makes the “Liturgy experience” so characteristic.

DIIV “Deceiver”

After two almost perfect albums was not so easy to make a new record on the same level, but the new Deceiver is without any doubt a strong confirmation of the band’s ability to write impeccable songs.

Following the usual direction halfway between shoegaze and post-punk this release is a pure concentration of 90’s alternative rock euphoria, from the harsh pop lines of Skin Game to the beautiful melodies sorrounded by fuzzy soundscapes of Lorelei. DIIV also confirms their impressive ability to switch from massive bass driven fast parts to slow and dreamy moments full of chrystalline guitars and ambient backgrounds.

If you don’t know this band and you’re into My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth or The Cure you should definitely take a listen to all their three albums.

Ştiu Nu Ştiu “Sick Sad Love”

Dark, sad, hypnotic and gloom are just a few ways to describe the incredible experience offered by this album entitled Sick Sad Love which is an overwhelming experience across the sound of madness and melancholy.

The band, Ştiu Nu Ştiu, is an obscure and underrated project from Sweden crafting a very original sound that takes inspiration from post-punk, darkwave, gothic rock and a few metal moments taken on a very high level. The album is a true hidden gem and it’s full of very various but always impressive songs, check the incredibly beautiful post-rock melodies of Sick Sad Love, the hypnotic heaviness of Sibirien or the massive experimentation of Slack Fyrarna to get an anticipation of the whole experience, you’ll find some of the most intense and well made songs recorded in 2019 you could listen to.

Of course also the rest of the discography is highly recommended to check, there are two other impressive album on the same level of this new one out there.

Sadistik “Haunted Gardens”

With his very unique experimental hip-hop, Sadistik (stage name of Cody Foster) has always been one of the most interesting and talented outputs offered by the genre.
This new Haunted Gardens is a beautiful mix of dreamy and depressing atmospheres with poetical lyrics, fast rapping and aggressive beats.

The instrumental work is nearly perfect, confirming this album as one of the most intense things released this year you could find out (try 8/12 or Pet Sematary if you wanna drown into synth layers), and if you listen to it with lights off and calm around it will swallow your heart.

Lyrics are also incredibly well made offering very emotional, reflective and mindblowing verses:

“A thousand people surround us inside of me’s only lonely
The fireflies used to visit to sit on my skin I miss it
When mystery dissipated you drifted into the distance” (taken from the song Eden)

Drab Majesty “Modern Mirror”

The previous The Demonstration has been my absolute favourite album released in 2017 and impressed me with its synthwave perfection; well, the new Modern Mirror is another masterpiece, confirming the direction of the previous record adding a distinctive dramatic emphasis to the slower moments (Oxtocyn, Noise of the Void) and addictive vocal lines impossible to forget in a very 80’s way (The Other Side, Elipsis).

The Los Angeles-based duo is showing album by album an unbelievable ability to create with its music a dreamy place where guitar and synth lines are perfectly merged as one, combining flanger arpeggios and spacey catchy melodies as a unique breathaking and chilling experience.