Typically, you may not think that a banjo and a tabla would agree with each other, let alone produce anything pleasing to the ear; surprisingly, when utilized correctly, quite the opposite is true. The Plum Magnetic proves that music really is a blank canvas, and in turn, uses paint from all genres. Formed in New Orleans in 2011, Trent Ciolino and Oliver Burke welded together their variety of musical interests (including African, Reggae, and Afro-Cuban styles) into a new project, one that draws from what feels like nearly every corner of the world. Soon after their initial formation, they added Andrew Mclean, (who spent ten years studying raga and tala at the prestigious Ali Akbar Khan College of Music) on guitar, and John Solomon (of Gravity A) on bass. Their debut album “Terra Animata” introduces the band and their unmistakable “cool” factor. “Trece Leches” jazzily says “hello,” “Sweet Confusion” smoothly asks for a dance, and “The Delicious” serenades you to sleep with a rich, full, modulatingly sweet sound. The title track swaggers in with a simple, deep intro and slides into a groove accented by smart vocals reminiscent of David Byrne, as well as a brief horn overtone. Slowing it down a bit, “The Electric Jungle” begins quietly, but begins to peak about a minute in with an outstanding Bach-esque mandolin line, a laid-back (yet crucial) tabla beat, and a beautifully elegant violin cameo. “Sheshbesh” starts with a jazzy groove, and slickly segues to an uplifting guitar line that sounds straight out of the 70’s. Originality is defined as “being novel or unusual,” and this album is every sort of novel, while still managing to pay respects to its contributors’ influences; one full listen of their album “Terra Animata,” will undoubtedly lead to many more. – By Kat Collins
Written by Ola’s Kool Kitchen
“Glasgow is a very frustrating place; very insular, parochial and predictable in their tastes. The amount of utter shite indie-pop garbage that is spouted is ridiculous…..When every second person on the street, at gigs or in pubs looks like a Franz Ferdinand reject with straightening irons and an eating disorder who’s been kicked through a Top-Man store, it’s hardly surprising this mass brain-washing has diluted the live music being heard… We mean what we do. If you really want to make psychedelic music it has to come from a very real source and experience. If you’re jumping on the latest fashionable band wagon then those who understand the music will suss it out in no time at all.”
-John-Paul Hughes from Helicon.
Welcome to a quick tour of four fabulous bands in Glasgow that deem further investigation. Starting things off is Helicon a personal favorite of mine and one I have played on several occasions, including recording their live set in London for broadcast on the Kool Kitchen radio show. They are described as doom-mongering behemoths of Psychedelic Rock, as sincere as the quote above from band member John Paul; the band completely means business in creating layers of rich textured sonic reverb.
A good place to start is with their epic track, “The Point Between Heaven And Hell”. If not already, this should be a classic in the shoe gaze cannon of must have tunes. Like all the best songs, this is a journey that twists and twirls like the title, someplace in the imagination between heaven and hell. For your perusal, the song by Helicon to make your ears tingle with delight!
Having just performed at Liverpool Psych Fest in the UK, live Helicon is equally mesmerizing. There is an intricate melancholy to their soul gazing, click here for a sample of their London gig at Paper Dress Vintage in my podcast to give you a taster.
Glasgow’s premier fuzz-noise-terrorists St Deluxe, is harkening back to 90’s old school blessed out indie. There is an enthusiastic quality to this energetic three some fused with moments of pure riff/pop joy, teenage punk riot and dense, shoe-gaze fog. To listen to them fulfills my yearning to return to the hey-day of Creation Records and a UK chart that still had elements of real indie in the rock. They have also been known to make appearances live and on recordings with Stephen Lawrie from The Telescopes.
Their song “Evil Dead” is a nice introduction, immersed in horror and zombie film imagery laced within the lyrics. I always enjoy any references to B movies in songs, so the theme is rather compelling in the fast-paced, guitar pop tempo. To check out the scary nostalgia here is the track.
HIS NAME IS CODEINE
Although His Name Is Codeine are not officially based in Glasgow (from Elgin), when asked about bands to be booked for a gig in Glasgow their name came up. Tenuous geographical connection, I know but will make it work anyhow! This band is murky, with some moments of sludge-psych/gaze, oozing a Cimmerian shade of subterranean depths of sound.
A closer look at their song “The Measure Of Your Misery” off their latest album The Only Truth Is Music, reveals all those elements intertwined with a slightly jangly sad song. Like a snake it slithers in a slinky manner, hypnotizing the listener into a warm sonic cotton woolly ball. Sometimes there is true pleasure in wallowing in the forlorn and I find this so here; but don’t take my word for it, check it out and judge for yourself.
THE CHERRY WAVE
The Cherry Wave is a shoe-gaze band from Glasgow creating structures of echoing drenched fuzz and distortion while also incorporating melody into their dense tone-brume. In certain moments the band has an underwater warble that burbles slowly to the surface, mimicking the unconscious in a rock song.
The song “Drown” rams home the sub-aquatic nature of these musical ocean floor dwellers. Something about this track reminds me of a Crustacean crawling through sea weed. It’s a pleasant sonic trawl through dark muddy gaze. If ever there was a way to “Drown in Sound” this is it. If you like it uber-fuzzy, fishy and liquid lush, I highly recommend testing it out here!
There is an ulterior motive for writing this article, The Telescopes will be returning to play at King Tut Wah Wah’s in Glasgow on Friday October 25th 2013. Joining Stephen on stage as the Scopes will be St Deluxe and Cherry Wave will be supporting alongside dark psychedelia from Dead Temple. For those in Glasgow, you can check out some of these bands in exciting action or for those further afield enjoy the snippets collected here!
Written By: Ola’s Kool Kithen
Highspire describes themselves as the aural megacosm of Alex White and EJ Hagen, perhaps harkening to a new branch of shoe-gazing, proliferating the notion of universe-gazers instead. White and Hagen founded the band in Philadelphia in 1999, releasing To Tomorrow’s Highways EP in 2001 and touring along the East Coast with a revolving cast of personnel for the first part of the decade.
Highspire’s debut full length album, Your Everything, was released on Clairecords in 2004. It is a substantial record that fuses fuzz seared sounds with ethereal dream vocals in a catchy dressing of pop. There is the collective gazer sound present, expanding into the vastness of space. With the idea of the cosm theme; a universe of sound is layered with beatific chorals that stand out as their unique sonic take on the genre. Critics compared elements of their sound to Ride, the Charlatans, Slowdive, Bowery Electric, Radiohead, and Massive Attack.
Many compilation appearances followed over the next few years, while White and Hagen focused their energies on other projects, eventually reconvening as members of Australia-via-NYC psych-rockers The Morning After Girls.
The long-awaited second Highspire LP, Aquatic, was released in 2010. This album envisages a more ambient state. It’s soaked in dreamscapes and encapsulates many of the same elements from their earlier work – head spinning cascading guitars, lush, layered vocals, and twisting melodies — smoothed-over and expanded. The album has been cited as a must have for shoe-gaze lovers, pushing all the right buttons in a spectacular manner. It was followed in 2011 by Sleight of Hand for the Down and Out, a compilation of selected rarities.
Here is the track “Glacier” from Aquatic to give you a taster.
Coinciding with the completion of their July 2013 tour, Your Everything was recently ranked in the Top 100 Shoegaze Albums of All Time by the website Sounds Better With Reverb. The 2013 version of the band is comprised of White and Hagen, with guitarist Blake Monahan, bassist Kristin Fayne-Mulroy (Soren Well) and drummer John Brodeur (The Morning After Girls). Highspire is a band definitely to keep a watchful ear out for in the future.
Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth
Edited By: Ola’s Kool Kitchen
Syria is not just a place to me. It’s a place where some of my favorite music comes from. 100,000 people are dead there. I’m not political scholar, but I do know that there is a war going on right now, and it’s for power over the people. So, I think it all ties together. Not only should you care about everyone on this planet, but if we cared about each other, we’d be strong together.
The most important thing to me, particularly when it comes to speaking with musicians who permeate a persona of otherworldly powers and knowledge is to understand their humanity by cutting through the fog of musical mysticism and folklore. Dax Riggs‘ fans idolize him, and the connection he has with them seems to be very profound.
If I did believe that Gods and Goddesses walked the Earth, I would still want to know how they felt in their human form and what they wanted out of their time on this planet. Riggs’ music examines, pokes, prods and experiments with the ideas of death, angels, demons, God, Satan and general the war between love and blood. As a listener, he confounds me in how he has found a way to flow through these notions in a career of 20 years and yet avoids overt repetition. His music never uninteresting, and in this interview he speaks about his influences, which includes middle eastern and world music which is something people may not expect to be inspirations for his swampy soulful requiem ballads.
During our interview earlier this summer, he mentioned to me that there were times that he felt like a priest to his fans, so, I made it a point to ask him what he really thought about the world, his music, his fans and his lifestyle.
In regards to song-writing, you speak a lot about your influences. Artists like John Lennon and Nick Drake seem to have been quite prominent to your artistic out-put . When you write records, do you take all that into account, and plan your albums with a long-term futuristic vision, or do your ideas come one at a time?
Definitely one at a time. I’m trying to figure out what I’m trying to do next. There isn’t really a plan. I’d like to smash some doom metal into the next record, but not in a typical way. I’d like to play music as if Kris Kristofferson was playing doom metal.
As a popular cult musician, you seem to have a very strong relationship with your fans. How do you handle the deep connectivity your fans feel with you, and does it make you happy?
Does it make me happy? When there’s someone who understands what I’m doing in the same way that I do, it’s fun to meet people like that. It’s great to meet people who are intensely into the music as I am. That’s certainly a good thing. Sometimes I feel like a priest or something. There’s a lot that comes with it. It’s not always on the happy side, but yeah it’s pretty intense. Each show is spiritually and psychically charged. You get enough people in a room that believe real heavily, that’s when something magical happens.
Is your experience with your fans isolating?
No. It brings me into the circle quickly. I mean, I might be lucky and things may work out great for me in certain ways, but it’s also good for me to keep in touch with people who have nothing but bad luck, and who know that. Those are my people.
How do you separate yourself from the pain and loss that you’ve been through in order to be so available for others?
I’m one of those people who will look towards the light. I guess I have certain Buddhist qualities in a sense that I feel like things come and go, and it’s supposed to be that way. I can deal with it all, because I know that it means everything, and that it means nothing. I know this whole thing is a blessing, and if you have perspective of that, then you go into a bad place.
Us breathing right now and being able to look around is the most sacred blessing we will ever know. There’s nothing greater than the spirits that we have, and to get side tracked, numb and dumbed down from everything; you can’t allow others to do that to you. You’ve got to go out and grab a handful of dirt and rub it into your skin.
So, with your new album, you’re still doing demos? Have you laid any songs down at this point?
No, not the real thing yet.
You tend to express yourself through genres, or artists you’re into. When you write a new record, are they your own concepts, or are they based solely on music you’ve been listening to over the course of a few years?
The songs come whenever they want to, I guess. I more or less look at the world and speak of what I think of what I think is not here, or what I think is missing right now, and I think, what do I need? It’s really a selfish kind of thing, because I write about things I want to be here, things I want to exist in our reality. So, I’m going to make singer/songwriter style music and mix it with punk blues, and I’m also going to be reinventing some ancient ballads and folk songs.
Working on music is not different for me every time, it’s more like a long, long progression. When I was very young, I was into Iron Maiden and thrash music. So I appreciated Joe Cocker and Ray Charles type vocalists, but I could not understand how to really sing like that back then. I think I’m getting closer to what my dream was with that. I always wanted to get close to that, but I heard the music and felt like that was the real spiritual tool that I could get my hands on and doing something with it.
I’m also really influenced by Zambian music, a lot of African music, Turkish music, Iranian music, outside of folk, that music is my main influence. The way I see world music is like it’s the first step to loving someone or a culture that you can’t understand.
Do you consciously take the responsibility to embed Universal concepts to people who grew up in areas like the Bible Belt? Is that a purposeful mission for you, or do you just play music for the experience?
Well, it’s for me, but I believe it’s for everyone. I am from the Midwest. I was born in Indiana. I never really thought about it too much. I mean, I do make sure I turn people onto music that they may not have heard before, so that’s a part of it. It helps us all evolve. But to answer your question, I only put these ideas into my music because that’s where I am at the moment, and that’s where I’ve changed, so I am no different.
Listening to your music over the years, it seems like you look at death and God and Satan from a billion different perspectives. Can you expand on your music’s spiritual and lyrical content?
When I create music it’s never a preconceived thing. It’s a very trance-like, spiritual thing for me. It’s a language of the spirit. I just try to listen to myself, and what comes out of my mouth is what I’m trying to get out there. These ideas are so important and so big, and they’ve kept me up so many nights. In the beginning, it was like I was really wondering what’s going to happen. But now, it’s that I’m coming to an understanding where there is no understanding. It’s like finding something that makes me feel better about joining the darkness, and to look at it in a peaceful way, the way it really is.
What have you learned with age?
I guess I could sum everything up by saying I got control of my soul. It was really just raging and howling, and unforgiving of itself. I believe that I’ve done a lot of studying of how to be ok. My spirit was in such agony. Now I feel like I’m feeding it the right things, and the right information and trying to battle to stay creatively alive, and stay in it.
Written By: J. Elizabeth
Edited By: O. Kool Kitchen
Being from Baltimore, Philadelphia was never a place I had to “discover”. I’d been to Williamsburg on school trips, was force-fed all the colonial history of the city. The first time I truly got to know the real Philly was when I was 15 years old. I ran away from home to become a neo-soul artist. It was a dark and gritty, part of my past, when I was lost in the sonic underbelly of this oddly eccentric city. The musicians I had met, seem to experience their music and cultivate their persona’s from other realities, beyond the tangible realm. Time Hilter and the Assholes From Space, Avataria , Psychic Teens and 185866232 are strange young people who defy explanation of their individualistic tendencies; they just immerse themselves in their music and this manifests in their live performance and online presence.
This piece came to light, because I pondered the people who surround me in my life. They are all, artistic, unconventional with a strong sense of self definition and such folks should be celebrated.
This band has been rejected by some of the most “underground” hipster noise venues in America because of their name alone. After a few years, it has become clear that this band works hard. Behind them are solid foundations of shoe-gaze and rock and roll. With tighter sounds their new albums are revealing a cohesive method of theme and concept. It is down-right oddball, weird, but completely consistent. I enjoy this band. I’ve played on a bill with this 6 member act. They are loud, but the volume doesn’t hide the sensible and somewhat romantic style of neo shoe-gaze rock that is refreshing. They keep their music loose and lo-fi, which is brave and keeps it a bit innocent. If they continue to give away their hearts, and stay “Wild & Willing” as their new LP suggests, they’ll have a long and lasting existence in the Philly underground scene.
William S. Mick is fascinating because he seems to be completely at war with anything that is traditional, or conservative; especially in regards towards culture in the USA. 18568232’s music is appealing because it is queer, confrontational, disturbing, and sexy. It comes from left field on many levels and compels you to flow with whatever the output. 18568232 appear to have a mission statement, invoking listeners to accept the outlandish. Nonetheless, Mick’s music is slightly reserved, so as to not go completely outside of the realm of that which cannot be identified with. Don’t be fooled! He is an accomplished musician who can combine static with his quiet whispered ramblings, alongside simplistic classical piano patterns, all rolled in one composition. His music can transition from blissful ambiance and sensual murmurs to chaotic shells of combative noise without overshadowing his musical talent.
Avataria’s form of dark-core, shoe-gaze grunge is incredibly admirable. She is a solo artist who creates large sound-scapes and in her own manner creates a dystopian rock and roll cell. With her “Unrealitie” EP Avataria has a confident style, with directed ambition that differs from her underground contemporaries. The music is moody, sensual and allows your ears to get lost in searing minor noted tones, which are ethereal and flowing. Avataria’s music is not polished and for that she stands out on the bill from her counterparts. Her music is a good alternative to sporadic escapades of other underground rock composers, as her songs are written tightly and don’t hold any pretense.
Photo By: Oren Camera Hechtman
Psychic Teens is another more prominent underground, psych experimental band. This band is the only one within this article who is supported by a record label, SRA. They create reeling guitar heavy psych sludge, while exuding a residue of post punk, garage and even touches of prog-rock tones. Psychic Teens is able to tour somewhat extensively to showcase their quirky and exasperatingly heavy art rock.
Due to the continual response and support of bands, readers, listeners and followers of The Process Records, TPR-Mag and TPR Psych Nights radio, I decided to relaunch all of our projects. As the founder TPR, editor of the blog and host of the radio, I had to take a break to explore my own career.
I’ve gone on to write for publications like Vice Magazine, Bitch Magazine, Nerve.com, ect, and while I was off writing and working for my editors, bands and followers of TPR never stopped letting my know how much they cared about us.
I personally want to thank you all, and I want to say that I’m honored, humbled and happy to serve the International psych, shoegaze, experimental and alternative music community. We are all artists, and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to help other artists get their ideas, voices and music heard. It’s something I don’t take lightly or for granted, and again, I’m thankful to be able to come back and serve again.
By: Jordannah Elizabeth
Avataria is an up and coming industrial, experimental musician based in Philadelphia. Her sultry and in your face music style is a strong and inspiring testament that female musicians can work to dominate in any genre and this talented musician is on her way to great things! She’ll be playing with the intensely popular band, DIONVOX with in July in Seattle. She has a lot of potential and drive to get her music to listeners. Check out what Avataria had to say about her music, her influences and where she sees herself in the future.
How long have you been making music? What are your influences?
I have been making original music since around 2008 but I’ve been playing guitar since I was 15. I have influences from all over the place, like books such as Sylvia Plath poetry, “A Prayer for Owen Meany”, and “Frankenstein.” There are also plenty of musicians, like Soundgarden, PJ Harvey, Sleigh Bells, Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Bjork, Portishead, and bunches of my friends bands. I’m also really inspired but instrumental music like the scores by Clint Mansell for Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain. He is a master of simple, heart-wrenching melodies!
Tell me a little about the compilation you’re on?
Yeah! My buddy Cooper out in Portland decided to round up a bunch of cool bands from around the globe and release us together on a compilation called “Ear to the Ground”. I think he is planning a series. The label, Otro Mundo, was originally called Fertile Ground Records. It is nonprofit run by Cooper and his goal is to help us all feel supported as musicians, and in turn we band together to raise awareness a little easier as a group. It’s very psych rock and grungy, really has that 90s revival vibe to it, and there are some great songs on there. I’m happy to be part of the first volume and with a label that has a noble goal.
Do you have any plans for 2013 and Avataria?
In 2013, Avataria is writing and recording a lot to develop material for the very long awaited full length album. I will be shuttling myself out to Seattle to record with my good friends in Dionvox. I will also get to perform with them at The Royal Room in south Seattle, on July 19. I will also be part of the fourth annual Elephant Talk Music Festival, which happens out in Atlantic City, NJ every first weekend of August. This year I get to open the festivities! Outside of that, lots of practicing up on new songs to get them ready for performances.
Are you going to be recording new material?
Absolutely! It has been far too long since I released an EP, and I’m working really hard to make that happen this year. Recording is a challenge for me, as I am not a highly prolific writer. Sometimes the process of getting a group of songs together and cohesively related can be daunting. I’m keeping at it, with the hopes that my picky nature will produce something of much higher quality.
If you could give advice to young musicians, what would it be?
I want to hear what you’ve got to say and play!! But seriously: believe in your own voice, practice makes perfect, and have fun. Don’t fall for the rock star lifestyle image! Music is as much work as it is fun, and it is an amazing experience. Learn as much as you can and make music that is your own. Don’t let negativity get you down (this is the hardest one for me) and use it instead as fuel for the fire.
The creative and musically endowed Australian indie rock band, Monks of Mellonwah have released and intensely orchestral indie rock opus with their new three track EP, Sky and Dark Night. This band has successfully generated a fusion of classical music and pop indie rock with competence and strong production value.
Sky and Dark Night is written as a trilogy as the tracks entitled Breakout, Control and Condition. These tracks flow into each making a the EP a strategically recorded album that reflects its forethought throughout the sonically dramatic 16 minute album. The first track, Breakout solidifies the band’s impressive attempt to create a rock opera mini anthology of musical movements that not only climaxes and fall at the proper moments, but also cycles by playing the first arrangement of the first song at the end of the last track end of the EP.
It does sound complicated, but you just have to listen to this EP! Monks of Mellonwah have composed a very respectful piece of work. Whether or not like indie rock or rock operas, Sky and Dark Night is an undeniably admirable album.
Louise Aubrie is a New York City based, British musician who crossed over the pond to play her brand of eclectic rock in the United States. Aubrie’s authentic post punk pop songs are clearly influenced by The Smiths and The Cure, but are doused with her personal and feminine style and great vocals. This is a refreshing spin on the male dominated post punk genre that is doused with melancholy lyrics expressing hurt feelings and missed opportunities. Aubrie exudes feminine strength and confidence and her music completely rocks.
Her current album Time Honored Alibi, which was released in March of 2013 is a wonderful collection of rock ballads that are thoughtful, heartfelt and well written. After Celebrating her album release earlier this month at The Bitter End, Louise Aubrie is doing well by establishing herself in the lower Manhattan music community. Keep and eye out for her music and her lush, sentimental sound.
Scandinavian music is prone to melancholy that drenches any genre from the pure pop of Abba to the electronic indie dance of Lykke Li and anything else in between. The album “Future Echoes and Past Replays” still resonates that peculiar Northern European sadness for Stockholm, Swedish rock band Slim Loris that is Robert Barrefelt, Mattias Cederstam, Jonas Ellenberg, and Leon Lindstrom. With well received 2011 album “Down To Earth” preceding, this is the second offering from SL.
The nature of that bleakness manifest in the music is the unexpected twist. The band appears and recreates the Americana sound without flaw in its presentation. The desert of the artwork cover permeates in guitar twangs and lonesome drum beats. An anachronistic world is created of wild open spaces of 1960’s style sounds infused with a bit of alternative country that resides in an atmosphere tinged with the soul darkening Swedish winter.
The songs tend to address emotional episodes within the life of Mattias Cederstam and are set to folkie plucking and soft, easy on the ear dynamics. The lyrical content has a refreshingly honest and simple approach. The archetypal themes of heartache and difficult decisions are presented clearly; the listener does not have to gouge the inner recesses of the mind in order to decipher the meaning.
Musically a track like “Visions of Tomorrow” is emanating the American classic-rock sound. However without futuristic and embellished production, Slim Loris creates crisp notes and catchy riffs, and as a result “Future Echoes and Past Replays” is far less convoluted in terms of instrumentation. With the record having possible closer leanings to the origins of folk, it also indicates more experimentation with varying time signatures and unique techniques of arrangement. The album is due to be released May 19 2013