Artists continue to push the boundaries of genres with Ulrich’s special brand of electronic, Romare’s experiment funk, Wolf People’s folk metal and Virginia’s Avent-Garde pop. We loved what these artists produced and we’re excited to hear what you have to say too!
Artist: Ulrich Schnauss
Album Title: No Further Ahead Than Today
Label: Scripted Realities
Moments Of: Tycho / Panthu Du Prince
Stand Outs: New Day Starts At Dawn / Love Grows Out Of Thin Air
The German-born producer Ulrich Schnauss returns with his fifth studio album, promising a return to the style that brought him success on his first two albums Far Away Trains Passing By and A Strangely Isolated Place. Giving us pop-friendly shoegaze electronica, No Further Ahead Than Today tries to provide a source of escapism for the at home listener.
At times on No Further Ahead Than Today Schnauss shimmers with synths of wonderment, other times he creates rhythmic bounce that progresses into a swell of textured beats; but then other times, unfortunately, these congregate to form songs with just too many layers.
This album was marked as a return to earlier works for Schnauss, but it seems that newer songs such as ‘Thoughtless Motion’ and even the title track are a little overworked compared to the simplistic pop ambience of his first two albums. It even happens on the better tracks ‘Melt Into Air’ and ‘Love Grows Out Of Thin Air’.
In saying this, the danceable pop grooves that join this swell are quite fun. But, it’s in the introspective moments, or hints of them, at the end of No Further Ahead Than Today that are standouts. These songs don’t lean on constant ricocheting textures, but revel in the ambience.
Album Title: Love Songs: Pt. Two
Label: Ninja Tune
Genre: Funk / Experimental
Moments Of: Todd Terje / Hercules & Love Affair
Stand Outs: Who To Love, Honey / Who Loves You?
Romares ‘Love Songs: Pt. Two’ is interesting, fresh and diverse as producer Archie Fairhurst brings elements of 70’s funk in a celebrated fashion. Taking his moniker from American artist Romare Bearden, known for his work with collage, Romare (the musician) makes his odes literal with expert samples and cuts that give way to enjoyable synth funk.
‘Who to Love?’ the first song on Romares second iteration of Love Songs is expertly paced and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Although it’s just a taste of sonic funk, the drawn out sample accompanied by a sinister yet tantalising, yet simple beat is a saunter in the right direction. Each song to follow is equally composed in its magnetism, never pushing its luck, but giving you enough to keep the allure going.
As the album progresses, One of Romares songs asks another question; ‘Who Loves You?’ This really is the centrepiece of the album in which rich soul vibes and long pauses lead into something sonically bred for the dance floor. You can expect to see some interesting remixes of this one in the near future.
Romare never gets ahead of himself on this album. Even though he’s got all the pieces of the puzzle to make something more sonically visceral and danceable, he holds back. Possibly finding the simpler grooves in his love story to be more revealing as we “fall in love with the little things”. Rather than laying the charm on thick Romare wins listeners over with class.
Artist: Wolf People
Album Title: Ruins
Genre: Heavy Rock / Folk
Moments Of: Black Sabbath / Jethro Tull / Led Zeppelin
Stand Out: Night Witch / Kingfisher
Placing Wolf People in one distinct genre is a difficult task. Mingling with multiple styles of folk, psychedelic/prog rock and a heaviness that leaves the word ‘indie’ seemingly unworthy, the UK outfit delve into earthy tones and a world of fuzz on Ruins. Already well established within the UK circles, the group are certain to garner attention worldwide, on this their third proper full-length album.
Over the course of the record the band explore ideas of the synergistic relationship between nature and the human race, and what happens if the scales are tipped too far in either direction. Lyrically, singer and guitarist Jack Sharp delves into a fantasized world where society and civilization has fallen to ruins, hence the album title. This contemplation of such a radically distant realisation of our world, is sound tracked by the constant grind of fuzz washed guitars, like in the single ‘Night Witch’, shrieking as if possessed by some mad beast, or perhaps a cackling witch would be more fitting.
In amongst the relentless drive of this hi-gain fuzz, moments of quiet, introspective guitar give the album a profound sense of calm and awareness. ‘Kingfisher’ and its subsequent reprises create a bluesy folk that is at times eerie, like walking through a thick-wooded forest at night, while others like ‘Ninth Night’ accelerate from soft to deafening loudness in a second. While drawing comparisons to heavy rock and prog forefathers like Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull, the band manage to evade the derivative tag that traps most others, making Ruins absurdly original and most definitely epic.
Artist: Virginia Wing
Album Title: Forward Constant Motion
Label: Fire Records
Genre: Avant-Garde Pop
Moments Of: Broadcast
Stand Out: ESP Offline / Sonia & Claudette
Far from the psych-rock sound of their debut album Measures of Joy, Virginia Wing go full avant-garde pop on their new album Forward Constant Motion. Almost a complete musical re-invention, this new record sees the band explore strange electronic textures and drones, all swirling around the beautifully pop minded vocals of singer Alice Merida Richards.
Virginia Wing are exciting, their music feels young and cutting edge, like a fresh new take on an old sci-fi classic. The album has two very distinct feels though, one of a mechanical rigidness on songs like ‘Miserable World’, while at the other end of the spectrum it feels loose, like the wobbling synths of ‘ESP Offline’. While both are intriguing, it’s hard to tell exactly which version we should trust, the album feels like a relentless tug of war, we’re constantly being lured by bright pop prospects, but teased by moments of melancholy.
Perhaps the more alluring of these two halves, is the gloomier side, where moody synthesisers swirl and cut jagged shapes through the mix. Richards tells us that we must be weary of these darker feelings, as she sings “I thought I could trust my thoughts/ But it seems/ I keep drifting aimlessly” on ‘Sonia & Claudette’. This tense struggle between the two sides of this record make it a bit overwhelming at times, as it becomes easier to find yourself lost in the grips of what can become a very confusing electronic ambience.