Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pelican - City of Echoes

Pelican has been one of the main authorities in the instrumental rock genre for some years now and their new release "City of Echoes" only serves to reassert the commanding sontrol of instruments and songwriting that have helped gather their loyal fan-base. "City of Echoes" is driven by the familiar distorted guitar that drenches most of their other recordings, having become their signature sound. The tone is dense and organic, ebbing between triumphant melodies and warnings of impending doom.

With this album, Pelican has established themselves as masters of their craft. This album contains melodies as memorable as Explosions in the Sky, but the comparisons rightly stop there. This album is an engaging, dense work of mature songcraft. The tempo for most of this album is relatively fast compared to other recent instumental releases by bands such as Mono. They abandon drawn-out cinematic build and stick to songs that are immediately catchy and work to draw the listener into the cycles of guitar-driven melody. This is their strongest work yet showing that this genre still has a lot more to offer and to teach the rest of the rock music scene.
9.2/10 More information on Pelican can be found at www.pelicansong.com and www.hydrahead.com

Monday, July 30, 2007

From The Headline - s/t EP

From The Headine is a hard working band from Wisconsin that has been playing shows throughout the Midwest and beyond for some time now. Their debut recording has been a long time in coming, but thankfully it has been well worth the wait. From the Headline is a band that has immense pop appeal while still playing well enough to impress even the most pop-wary music fans.

The songs on this six-track EP are both catchy and refined. Showing influences rangeing from pop to latin, From the Headline have a real talent for writing great songs. With time they could even redeem the often boring pop genre. The album was impeccably recorded and features great production. The packaging of this release is also especially stunning. It features a digipack with an outer sleeve. This unusual configuration works brilliantly to render this release as nice visually as it is aurally. This music is for anyone wishing the radio would play real music.
9/10 Check these guys out at www.myspace.com/fromtheheadline
Also a side note to any label who happens to read this, SIGN THESE GUYS, you won't regret it.

TheAnti - Tour EP

TheAnti is a duo from Indiana who have been touring and stirring up quite a ruckus with their brand of tight, aggressive rock. Their most recent recorded output is a Tour Ep, which has eleven tracks, technically qualifying it as a full-length but who really cares anyway? Their songwriting is straight forward with an experimental flair that includes the use of the infamous Korg Kaoss Pad. This cd is a collection of diverse material rangeing from noisy jams to acoustic songs sans drums and noise.

Most of these songs are well written with influences from many sources, most notably The Mars Volta. In fact, track 5 could almost be seen as a Mars Volta rip-off, with processed guitars and vocals reminiscient of their sound. Apart from that, however, this album is a solid work of skilled songcraft. This is one band definitely worth checking out.

7/10 You can contact this band at http://www.myspace.com/theantiesspace Please do, they could use your support.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pulga - Pulga Loves You

Pulga is the duo formed by Italian Saxophonist Valerio Cosi and Texan musician Niwi (The Mighty Acts of God). This release has been highly anticipated by fans of both of these musicians and has been put out by the impresive Fire Museum Records. The cd starts out with a track that shifts between gentle drone and chaotic jam. The chemistry between these two musicians is made very clear from the outset of the album.
As the cd continues on, their sound begins to take shape and develop into a cyclic pattern between chaos and sublimity. this contiues through until the eighteen minute closer, "Raga Pulga". by far the strongest track on the album bringing together the talent of both musicians as adept muli-instrumentalists and an almost cinematesque build of tension. This track makes the cd worth buying alone, not to mention the other tacks which are also superb. Over all this release would be a more than welcome addition to any collection of instrumental, experimental music. Certain to be an underground legend in the near future.
9/10 More information and purchasing can be done at www.museumfire.com

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Burnt Hills - Cloud Nine

This is the first I've heard from Burnt Hills, and is another release from the lovely Tape Drift imprint. I had no real idea what to expect from this release but I should say that I enjoyed what I heard. This band has a lot of members, nearly ten, and most play multiple instruments on this recording. The first few tracks contained what sounded like controlled cacaphony. The sound at the beginning had guitars, lots of them. I couldn't quite tell exactly how many were going at once, but it was certainly more than just rhythm and lead. The walls of distorted guitar and driving rhythms of multiple drummers kept the music more focused than it might have been otherwise. The percussionists stayed together remarkably well and steered the band in a direction that recalled many noisy Mars Volta bootlegs as well as Tarentel, albeit much more chaotic.

This band stays pretty consistent throughout this cd and they seems to communicate well musically even with so many musicians contributing to the chaos. There are times in the cd that sound unfocused, but these are mere fleeting moments in comparison to the rest of the whole. This release would be a great addition to any fan of "Ghetto Beats on the Surface of the Sun" by Tarentel or to jam music in general.

8/10 This release may be purchased at www.tapedrift.com

Sunday, July 22, 2007

(VxPxC) - Lizard in the Spring

For anyone that has ever heard anything by (VxPxC), the word 'focused' doesn't usually come into play with a lot of their music. With new material being recorded by this band weekly, this California trio put out a lot of music at a rate that would make most artists' head spin. All of the music is completely improvised and most often falls within the borders of the ever-growing psych-folk genre. Lizard in the Spring however is rich, dense, and even catchy at times. This release could very well change the way this band is viewed by listeners of their other work.

Lizard in the Spring is an unusually throrough album for improvised music. This release also incorporates a heavier amount of vocals than much of their recent work, adding a new aspect to the music that, at times, ties the music together very well. The harmonic and melodic drones that saturate much of the album have a way of fleshing out the the sound of the band that unifies the release and creates a cinematesque sense of space and depth. Other than a few vocal parts that clash with the music occasionally, improvisation has not really sounded this rehearsed in a while. This is an essential addition to any collection of improvised music, and would be a great starting point for listeners not yet prepared to completely abandon the foundations of "normal music".

9.5/10 This release can be ordered from www.tapedrift.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Century Plants - Sound System Sound

Century Plants is the duo comprised of Eric Hardiman and Ray Hare, the former being the mind behind the new label Tape Drift on which this cd was released. This release comprises of two half-hour long improvisations from April. This new label has done a really nice job with the packaging and presentation of this and the other releases from the catalogue. All of the releases so far are encased in black clamshells with wraparound covers and interesting artowork on each one.

Sound System Sound is an hour long onslaught of distorted guitar that starts with a bluesy tinge and continues on with a plethora of musical ideas that seem to appear and disappear through a thick haze of distortion and fuzz that pays as much tribute to the elemental as to the industrial. The music contained herein cantains both fuzz-drenched melodic improvisation and blistering atonal squall, blending themselves to create a musical behemoth that is both intimidating and accessable. The only problem with the release was a certain amount of inconsistency in some of the musical ideas, sometimes it sounded as if the pair could not resolutely decide what direction the music was meant to take, but then again that is sometimes the beauty of improvisational music.

8/10 This release can be ordered from www.tapedrift.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bjerga/Iversen - Electric Tranquilizer

This being my first aural exposure to the prolific Norwegian duo of Bjerga/Iversen, I had no real idea of what to expect apart from reviews and other articles that have popped up recently highlighting them. I must say that I was, on the whole, pretty impressed by their most recent release on Peasant Magik. These two operate within the drone medium utilizing guitars for the bulk of their sounds and creating soundscapes that remain interesting and varied throughout most of both sides.

This cassette has two side-long pieces that vary significantly from each other, possibly due in part to the two year span between the recording dates of each piece. Side A was the more ethereal and enjoyable of the two pieces and aptly demonstrated a clear musical idea which tended to drift along at an indeterminable pace, ebbing and flowing throughout the fifteen minute side it occupies.

Side B however was more mechanical in both tone and tambre choices as well as musical communication and seemed to get a bit monotonous a few minutes into the track. Nevertheless the piece does pick up a little direction and momentum in the second half before coming to a nice, almost glacial halt. Over all I would say that this tape is a nice starting point for anyone not yet exposed to the experimental culture that seems to be growing in Norway right now, and is an interesting portrait of the duo and their progresion over the last few years that would be interesting for fans if their other work.

7/10 This tape may be purchased from www.peasantmagik.net

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weather Exposed Skeleton Music - An Axe Through All This

I have to admit that upon recieving this tape from Peasant Magik the name seemed to hint at something much darker and noisier than what was actually contained on the two sides of the cassette in question. I was pleasantly surprised to find an album of songs that were not only well crafted but managed to fill the void between the current trend in improvisational experimental music (which can sometimes be very frustrating to litsten to on a regular basis) and more conventionally thought out music. The guitar melodies and hazy atmospheres that dominate most of this tape are both pleasant to hear and intricate enough to keep the attention of the more demanding listener.

Whether you are looking for a good album to which to space out or music to aurally dissect during a spare half an hour, this tape would be a nice addition to any collection.
8/10 This tape can be ordered from PeasantMagik.net

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

48 Minutes of aural bliss from Tarentel's Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - The Garden of Forking Paths

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is apparently very busy. He runs the fantastic Rootsrata imprint, maintains numerous musical projects including The Alps, The Holy See, and most notably Tarentel. he has been making solo music as well for quite some time, originally under the moniker Colophon. He has most recently released a cd on Japan's Spekk records, a label I was not really aware of before listening to this release.

After hearing all of his other projects and their diversity, I had no real idea of what to expect from a solo outing. I was simply stunned. The attention to detail of sound and structure on this cd is nothing short of fantastic. Moving away from the longer pieces that his projects like Holy See and Tarentel at times are known for, Ledesma crafts a collection of short zen-like pieces for guitar, harmonium and other soothing instruments. Flowing without being repetitive, he maturely crafts each song to carry a consistent aura and mood throughout the duration of the album.

Buy this if you enjoy music that can take you on a journey without raising your heartbeat to an unhealthy level. For fans of his other work, instrumental compositions, and lazy river rides.
9/10 available from www.spekk.net

also check out Jefre's label Rootstrata at rootstrata.com

"Music Your Mind Will Love You" blesses us with a new cdr from The Holy See

The Holy See is comprised of Jefre Cantu-Ladesma and Jim Redd of San Fransisco legends Tarentel. My only other exposure to this particular project was on the release "f***ing physics" earlier this year on Foxglove.

In listening to this release, and this band in general, one must enter into it with a certain openness to the harsh soundscape that often surrounds the otherwise accessible musical ideas within. Having to find this state of mind, however, sometimes detracts from the overall musical listening experience.

This release is one track, about thirty-three minutes long and is quite possibly even harsher than the foxglove cdr mentioned earlier. "untitled" is quite possibly the most musically mature material this band has released, though. The sounds chosen and timbres utilized varied and diversified the piece while still operating within the walls of feedback that largely govern their original, albeit brutal, sound. (Brutal is not always bad, especially in this case.)

One of the most pleasing aspects of this album is the inclusion of sounds that recall more contemplative music, with guitars sounding like chimes, and washes of fuzz ridden feedback imitating breezes. The Holy See create a sense of space that seems a contradiction upon first listen, but begins to grow on the listener after a few times. At times it becomes similar to meditating in a sandstorm. In fact if you're not careful you might find yourself almost being soothed by the near-hellish sounds within.

Overall, this release was both interesting and engaging and deserves some more widespread attention. This project is certainly headed in a good direction musically and promises to hold an exciting place in music later down the road.

7/10 this may be purchased from the good people at Music Your Mind Will Love You http://mymwly.blogspot.com

Monday, July 9, 2007

Peasant Magik cont. (The Latest from Pillars of Heaven)

I'm currently waiting for some new material from several labels that I have been in contact with in regards to this site and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those that have agreed to send material so far.

Right now I have the latest Pillars of Heaven, label owner Salvatore Giorgi's solo project, tape, "Silver Tusks Vol. 1," so I am going to review it.

Just as before, the packaging for this tape shows a lot of effort, and is as asthetically pleasing to the eye as to the ear. The tape begins with a subtle pulsing section that, like any post minimalist music, reminded me of Steve Reich. He executes this well though and the timbres and sound sources chosen for the tape not only flow together but tend to create a bed of sound soft enough to rest many a drone-tired ear. Don't get me wrong, this is drone music, but it is pleasant enough to the ear to nearly attain the soothingness of a lullaby of sorts (albeit a bit strange for most children).

POH sticks to sounds pleasant enough for just about anyone remotely interested in drone music, but threatens to alienate inexperienced listeners at times. Throughout the tape POH demonstrates a sound that is both unique and mature and, if approached similarly in the future, will only get better. His use of shimmering tones coming from what sounds like an organ and guitar make this release an exellent buy for fans of drone, ambient and just people who enjoy spacing out every once in a while.
8/10 This title may be purchased from http://peasantmagik.net

Thursday, July 5, 2007


If you would like to send material please send to this address

Hawaiian Winter Music Reviews
c/o Rob Funkhouser
1611 Sherri Way
Richmond, IN 47374

Two Stunning Releases from Peasant Magik

These two releases are some of the first I've heard from the Philadelphia label Peasant Magik. The first thing that one willl notice with these two cassettes are packaged very nicely. Salvatore Giorgi, the brain behind the whole operation, has put a lot of effort into presenting his label's music in a professional, sharp-looking way. Okay, onto the music;

The first tape with which I started was Gallows "The White Lodge". This is the first music I've heard from this band and I must say that I'm pretty impressed. The tape opens with a piece that incorporates elements of 50's sci-fi soundtracks into an otherwise average drone/noise piece. Luckily, Gallows sticks to noise that is largely musical in nature. The intrigue of the first track and the gentle swells of harmonic feedback and other unknown sounds played in reverse on the second track are more than enough to keep me interested to the end of the tape. The third track is not a let down either, it serves as a kind of capstone to the rest of the release. The ominous sounding drones on this piece are complemented with more beautiful swells of harmonic bliss and a repeating rhythmic loop that at times serves to give the listener a more grouned feeling of movement and direction. Overall, i would encourage anyone even remotely interested in experimental music to give this tape, and band a try.
8/10 This release is in an edition of fifty and my be ordered from http://peasantmagik.net

The second tape I delved into was a self titled tape by Blown Doors. This release is a bit darker than the Gallows cassette but falls into roughly the same noise/drone genre, although genres never seem to do music justice. The vein of noise this group chosses for the first side is mostly static, even organic drones and noises. The band creatively uses reverb and other effects to create a nice sense of space within a relatively dense soundscape. Toward the end of the first side, there are sounds that can be vaguely recognized as guitar and maybe even a bass as well, run through a cornicopia of noisy pedals and placed against other harsher noise. At the very end of the track, the noise reaches its harshest and ends in a cacophony of sorts. The second side begins with a handclap and mysterious, almost industrial type drone that contrast nicely with the static bombast of side A. This side of the tape definitely conveys a sense of urgency not present in the other piece, or in many noise recordings in general. The haunting harmonies of the feedback are very effective and even catchy, especially if you've been listening to noise recordings for a period of time. This piece seems to be riddled with organ and most certainly guitar, which could be the main culprit behind this entire tape. The swells in Phobos, the title of side B, are nearly stunning in their music breadth and depth.
8/10 This release is in a sadly small edition of twenty-five and may also be ordered from http://peasantmagik.net

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

We're Ready!

Alright everyone, I've been meaning to start this for a really long time, so here it is. To some the idea of another review site might just seem ridiculous, but lets face it, there is a ton of music out there that is not getting heard and could use some extra exposure.
I'll be starting with some new ones from the good man Salvatore over at Peasant Magik. i will have these reviews up later tonight.

Rob F.