Showing posts with label avant garde. Show all posts
Showing posts with label avant garde. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

video review: 'pacifisticuffs' by diablo swing orchestra

Ugh, I wish I had liked this more... but it happens, I guess...

Anyway, next up is a record I'm a little unsure if anyone beyond the Patron who requested it cares about, but we'll see - stay tuned!

album review: 'pacifisticuffs' by diablo swing orchestra

I get the feeling that just about every element of this particular act is going to require an explanation, including why in the Nine Hells I'm covering them in the first place - because while there are weird metal acts, Diablo Swing Orchestra sits in a category mostly by itself.

And the bizarre thing for once is that I can say I've mostly been a fan of this Swedish group for years. I was introduced to their debut and arguably best project The Butcher's Ballroom in university by a friend given my liking for symphonic metal, but that's only a component of the madhouse of this group, which blends in elements of swing, jazz, and classical music to their sound with a manic vaudeville approach, blending male and female vocals of all varieties against some pretty aggressive and yet remarkably catchy progressive metal, complete with strings and horns sections to boot! And yet at the same time they were always a band that I kept a little at arm's length, mostly because they could slip towards the deeply silly despite their wit and vaudeville kitsch does tend to test my patience, even though I would say all of their work is remarkably accessible all the same. Still, I did appreciate their follow-up records in 2009 and 2012, and I was curious to check out their newest project, with a new female singer stepping in. Granted, I was a little concerned that this record had to be delayed for a year in order to correct mixing issues, but hey, we've got it now, how is Pacifisticuffs?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

video review: 'skeleton tree' by nick cave & the bad seeds

So this happened... look, I'm not often one to be advocating on behalf of records - I prefer to analyze and discuss rather than promote, it always feels weird, especially with an album like this - but if you're on the fence about Nick Cave, you need to give this a chance. It's amazing that over the course of over three years doing this critic business that for most years I didn't get a single 10/10 and in 2016 we've had two... don't know what to tell you, folks, I gave this so many listens and yeah, it would have felt wrong to give it anything else.

But next up... hmm, Jason Aldean, MIA, Devin Townsend, that Angel Olsen review that I have filmed... probably that one (again, crazy busy this weekend), but we'll see. Stay tuned!

album review: 'skeleton tree' by nick cave and the bad seeds

I know the easiest way to start this. It's also the way I don't want to start this. It feels cheap and exploitative to acknowledge it, especially given how so many music websites have covered this story - I can't imagine how much it stings every time he might see a review and the first thing that's mentioned is... well...

Goddamn it, this is hard - harder than for most artists, mostly because of the acts who have defined my evolution as a music critic, Nick Cave looms as one of the biggest. His record The Good Son from 1990 I would call a classic 10/10 record, and that's not even counting Henry's Dream, Murder Ballads, The Boatman's Call, Tender Prey, and Push The Sky Away, the last of which was my best album of 2013. Spoilers, I stand by that pick too: some may consider it too slow and muted and impenetrable but there's a genuinely unsettling power in the cryptic writing once you decode it, one of the few records that when Nick Cave is called an 'apocalypse prophet', he earns the title. 

So of course when I heard he was working on a new project I was thrilled... and then came the news that his fifteen year old son Arthur had died in a tragic accident. And there's no way around the fact that it would colour the album, especially when Nick Cave had come back into the studio to finish the recording. Most of the songs had been written but later takes had been semi-improvised, as Nick Cave noted that he had lost his faith in 'narrative-based songs', the sort of statement that can ring as frightening coming from the man who wrote Murder Ballads - for such a storyteller to lose his faith in that form is understandable, but genuinely chilling and reflective of the deep, unyielding pain he had to be experiencing. As such, there was a part of me that didn't even want to listen to this record: it felt too personal, too real, almost reminiscent of Blackstar, the last album David Bowie wrote before he died. And as you can likely tell by this point, I was almost certain that this album would get to me as deeply, if not more so... but by this point, with so many critics hailing Skeleton Tree as one of the best records of this year - it's currently the highest rated record on Metacritic, if you put stock in such things - I had to hear it. What did I hear?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

video review: 'words to the blind' by savages & bo ningen

Wow, this was a welcome surprise. A little late to post it tonight, but still a great album all the same. Next up... not sure, really. Need more time for TV On The Radio, but I probably could talk about Pink Floyd soon... so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

album review: 'words to the blind' by savages & bo ningen

Let's talk a little about collaboration albums. Outside of hip-hop, pop, and occasionally country, it's fairly rare to see artists from two different acts work together on an official collaboration, especially when you venture towards the more indie genres. Sure, you get your supergroups or when a member of another band jumps on a song or two to provide some additional texture, but team-ups between two distinctive bands or musical acts is a hell of a lot rarer, especially over the course of an entire album - mostly because it doesn't always tend to work. It's not like a guest rapper jumping on for verses, this is the fusion of distinctive artistic styles in songwriting and instrumentation, and most often it results in both acts meeting in the middle with watered-down blends of their own unique styles, or one group completely subsuming the other.

And yet this year one of the collaboration albums that has been high on my personal radar was this one, an enigmatic single track stretched over thirty five minutes to "album" length. The first contributing group was the all-female post-punk group Savages, who you should all remember from last year dropping one of the best records of 2013 with Silence Yourself, delivering a brutally cutting message through potent and explosive instrumentation. The second group is the Japanese acid-post-punk group Bo Ningen - and I'll admit right out of the gate that I wasn't all that familiar with them, and what I did hear was a little disconcerting and not exactly to my tastes. For one, the tone of their material was a lot more spasmodic, jerky and off-kilter between melodic and dissonant intervals that didn't seem to have the coiled intensity and grit of a band like Savages.

Now it turns out they've collaborated before - lead vocalist of Savages Jehnny Beth has contributed vocals to a few Bo Ningen songs, but their most recent collaboration 'C.C.' featured a lot more messy, noisy guitar lines and a frantically overstuffed mix that didn't flatter anyone, especially Bo Ningen lead singer Taigen Kawabe with his skittering, shrieked vocals. And considering this project was a single track, I was very concerned this could prove to be a real ordeal to sit through. But then again, Savages has earned enough goodwill with me, so I steeled myself for whatever might come and listened through Words To The Blind - what did we get?