Category: post rock

Live Footage: BRUTUS Performs “Cemetery” at Ghent’s Handelsbeurs

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Leuven, Belgium-based post-rock trio BRUTUS. With the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s Burst, the acclaimed Belgian act —  Stefanie Mannaerts (drums, vocals), Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitar) and Peter Mulders (bass) — quickly developed a national and international presence with a sound and approach shaped and informed by necessity: Mannaerts eventually took up vocal duties because no one else would.

Since their debut effort’s release, they’ve toured with JOVM mainstay and labelmate Chelsea Wolfe, Thrice, Russian Circles, and others. The members of BRUTUS have also played sets across the European Union’s heavy music festival circuit. And adding to a growing profile, Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich has championed the band.

The Leuven-based trio’s Jesse Gander-produced sophomore album Nest was released last year through Sargent House Records. Nest finds the members of BRTUUS making a concerted effort to write tighter songs with a bigger sound — but simultaneously, the material sees Mannaerts fully and boldly embracing her dual roles as a vocalist and drummer. 

Thematically speaking, the material focused on the path the trio have taken together that have led to the euphoric highs of achieving a lifelong dream. As a result, the material is deeply introspective with the members of the band considering the individual and group choices they’ve made to get where they are now — and the impact those choices have had on their loved ones and those who they’ve had to leave behind. In some way, it captures the bleak and raw ache of people who taking stock of themselves and their lives — alone. Naturally, that creates an uncomfortable yet necessary friction between wanting to continue the forward progression of a burgeoning career and the desire to maintain and cherish the connections of home.

The members of the Belgian trio closed out 2019 with their first ever Stateside headlining tour, which included a November stop at Saint Vitus Bar. Of course, before the COVID-19 related lockdowns and quarantines, the Belgian band had been busy touring to support Nest. Slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Sargent House Records, the Belgian band’s live album, Live In Ghent offers fans across the world a taste of what they’ve been forced to miss this year. 

“When the real world went into lockdown, early March 2020, a year of live music disappeared before our eyes,” the members of BRUTUS explain. “Going on tour, playing festivals, watching bands, it’s all gone. It was as hard for us as it has been for everybody involved in live music. As a remedy, we took the time to look back on what we had already done and collected the footage we had of our previous shows. Painful and healing at the same time. That’s when we stumbled upon the recordings of our show at Handelsbeurs in Ghent, May 2019. A hometown show we fully recorded and filmed after a period of touring, in front of all our family and friends.”

“We know it’s just a recording and not even close to the real feeling we had on stage or the energy we got back from the crowd in the room, but looking back, almost a year later, we feel absolutely proud about that show.”

The latest batch of live footage from that show (which will appear on the live album) is of the band performing one of my favorite songs off the album — “Cemetery.”  Effortlessly riding doom metal, thrash metal, shoegaze, hardcore punk and stoner rock, the song is centered around an arrangement of thunderous and forceful drumming, enormous power chords and Mannaerts howled vocal delivery, which gives the song a feral immediacy. 

Naturally, the live footage will give fans — and hopefully readers and viewers — a sense of the band’s energetic and loud live sound. But it also serves as a reminder of those small and necessary joys that we miss so much as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. So far, the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to put a covering over our faces and socially distance whenever we’re out and about — and wash your hands. So please, put on a mask. It’s a minor inconvenience but we can get back some of the things we love sooner rather than later if you do. 

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Leuven, Belgium-based post-rock trio BRUTUS. With the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s Burst, the acclaimed Belgian act —  Stefanie Mannaerts (drums, vocals), Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitar) and Peter Mulders (bass) — quickly developed a national and international presence with a sound and approach shaped and informed by necessity: Mannaerts eventually took up vocal duties because no one else would.

Since their debut effort’s release, they’ve toured with JOVM mainstay and labelmate Chelsea Wolfe, Thrice, Russian Circles, and others. The members of BRUTUS have also played sets across the European Union’s heavy music festival circuit. And adding to a growing profile, Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich has championed the band.

The Leuven-based trio’s Jesse Gander-produced sophomore album Nest was released last year through Sargent House Records. Nest finds the members of BRTUUS making a concerted effort to write tighter songs with a bigger sound — but simultaneously, the material sees Mannaerts fully and boldly embracing her dual roles as a vocalist and drummer. 

Thematically speaking, the material focused on the path the trio have taken together that have led to the euphoric highs of achieving a lifelong dream. As a result, the material is deeply introspective with the members of the band considering the individual and group choices they’ve made to get where they are now — and the impact those choices have had on their loved ones and those who they’ve had to leave behind. In some way, it captures the bleak and raw ache of people who taking stock of themselves and their lives — alone. Naturally, that creates an uncomfortable yet necessary friction between wanting to continue the forward progression of a burgeoning career and the desire to maintain and cherish the connections of home.

The members of the Belgian trio closed out 2019 with their first ever Stateside headlining tour, which included a November stop at Saint Vitus Bar. Of course, before the COVID-19 related lockdowns and quarantines, the Belgian band had been busy touring to support Nest. Slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Sargent House Records, the Belgian band’s live album, Live In Ghent offers fans across the world a taste of what they’ve been forced to miss this year. 

“When the real world went into lockdown, early March 2020, a year of live music disappeared before our eyes,” the members of BRUTUS explain. “Going on tour, playing festivals, watching bands, it’s all gone. It was as hard for us as it has been for everybody involved in live music. As a remedy, we took the time to look back on what we had already done and collected the footage we had of our previous shows. Painful and healing at the same time. That’s when we stumbled upon the recordings of our show at Handelsbeurs in Ghent, May 2019. A hometown show we fully recorded and filmed after a period of touring, in front of all our family and friends.”

“We know it’s just a recording and not even close to the real feeling we had on stage or the energy we got back from the crowd in the room, but looking back, almost a year later, we feel absolutely proud about that show.”

The latest batch of live footage from that show (which will appear on the live album) is of the band performing one of my favorite songs off the album — “Cemetery.”  Effortlessly riding doom metal, thrash metal, shoegaze, hardcore punk and stoner rock, the song is centered around an arrangement of thunderous and forceful drumming, enormous power chords and Mannaerts howled vocal delivery, which gives the song a feral immediacy. 

Naturally, the live footage will give fans — and hopefully readers and viewers — a sense of the band’s energetic and loud live sound. But it also serves as a reminder of those small and necessary joys that we miss so much as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. So far, the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to put a covering over our faces and socially distance whenever we’re out and about — and wash your hands. So please, put on a mask. It’s a minor inconvenience but we can get back some of the things we love sooner rather than later if you do. 

 

humptydumptyrecords · River Into Lake – Grande Prairie

Boris Gronemberger is Brussels-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer, who managed to be rather busy throughout the bulk of his career: he was the founder and frontman of acclaimed Belgian indie act V.O. through their 15 years together — and he has a long-held reputation as a go-to collaborator, working with Girls in Hawaii, Castus, Blondie Brownie and a growing list of others.

Gronemberger’s latest musical project, River into Lake can trace its origins back to 2017 when the Belgian singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger began writing the material, which would eventually comprise River Into Lake’s full-length debut Let The Beast Out sometimes alone, sometimes in collaborative groups, granting himself the complete freedom to reinvent himself and his work. Sonically, Let The Beast Out was bubbling orchestral pop with sharp melodies, complex harmonies featuring  arrangements that meshed synthesizers and organic instrumentation — and it shouldn’t be surprising that the material was indeed to prog rock. Thematically, the material was centered around the difficulty of wanting to continue to believe in the beauty of human nature while generally being an ode to love, life and the complexities of the universe.

Initially written and conceived as a bonus track for Let The Beast Out crowdfunders, the Belgian act’s latest single “Grande Prairie” continues a run of ambitious and expansive material. Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, drum machines, a propulsive bass line, angular bursts of guitar, explosive live drumming and enormous hooks, the song sonically recalls Sugar Army and others — but with a cinematic sweep. “La Grande Prairie is a place where we were going to celebrate the end of the exams with friends,” Gronemberger explains. “Some of them have meanwhile passed away. It’s a song that talks about carelessness, the strength of youth heckled by the movements of society that seems to crash straight into the wall.” Gronemberger adds “It seemed appropriate to me to release it now in this particular context, which in na certain way, reminds us that it is time to spread out on better bases.”

Coincidentally, the track is the first single off an EP, which is slated for release late this year.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Reykjavik’s VAR Releases and Intimately Shot Visual for Awe-Inspiring New Single

VAR is a Reykjavik-based post-rock collective that initially began in 2013 as the solo project of Júliús Óttar (vocals, guitar and piano) but shortly after its creation, Óttar realized that his vision couldn’t be fully realized without additional help, so he recruited those who were the closest to him — his wife Myrra Rós (synths, vocals), his brother Egil Björgvinsson (bass) and his friends Arnór Jónasson (guitar) and Adrni Freyr Þorgeirsson (drums). With that lineup, the act wrote and recored the Vetur EP — and over the course of the subsequent years, the band builds up a fiercely loyal fanbase through relentless touring and live shows. 

Because of competing responsibilities, Ròs was pulled in a different direction and Sigurður Ingi Einarsson (drums) replaced Freyr in a major lineup change that created a smaller lineup — and as a result, necessitated a reimagining of the project’s sound. Released earlier this year through Spartan Records, the Icelandic act’s latest album The Never Ending Year sees the band crating one of the label’s most awe-inspiring releases to date. “Moments,” the latest single off the album is a perfect example of that: centered around alternating arena rock friendly choruses with enormous power chords and intimate, shoegazer-like verses featuring shimmering guitars and ethereally sung vocals, the song manages to evoke the wide-screen cinematic air of acclaimed countrymen Sigur Ros with the intensity and anthemic hooks of Foo Fighters and others. 

The recently released video for “Moments” was shot in the town Stokkseyri, on Iceland’s southern coast, about an hour outside of Reykjavik: Stokkseryri is the home of the country’s only existing organ workshop — and coincidentally is owned by Óttar and Björgvinsson’s father. Featuring live footage of the band performing at the organ workshop, the video also offers an intimate look within the band’s world — and that of the small community of Stokkseryi. 

Shiner — currently, comprised of Jason Gerkin (drums), Paul Malinowski (bass) Allen Epley (guitar) and Josh Newton (guitar) — is a Kansas City, MO-based post hardcore act that initially formed back in 1992. Shortly, after their formation, the band signed to DeSoto Records, owned by Jawbox’s Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot, and had a prolific and busy six year run that included some relentless touring and a handful of well-received albums of hook-driven, power chord-based material that ended with 2001’s critically applauded The Egg.

The band broke upon 2002 but the The Egg was re-released on vinyl for the 10th anniversary of its release, and the band reunited to play a handful of sold-out shows to support it, including stops in Los Angeles, Kansas City and Chicago, which were some of the biggest shows of their careers. Interestingly, in 2018 the members of the band’s current lineup decided that the act wasn’t finished yet — and that their story should be continued onwards. After a handful of recording sessions over the next 18 months at Paul Malinowski’s Shawnee, KS-based Massive Sound Studios, the band emerged with their self-produced, forthcoming album Schadenfreude, which is slated for a May 8, 2020 release. We’ve always been extremely hands-on, even when working with someone else technically ‘producing,’” the band’s Josh Newton says. “With The Egg we ended up remixing and adding things to almost half the record on our own. At this stage in our existence, we know what we should sound like.”

Reportedly, the album not only finds the band not missing a beat despite the lengthy hiatus, the album’s material manages to stand on their own. “A lot of themes on the album are pretty dark but always with a silver lining around the edges,” the band’s Allen Epley says in press notes. “The title itself is a commentary on the most common human trait of enjoying your rivals’ demise. Or your apparent enemies.”

Last month, I wrote about “Life As A MannequinSchadenfreude‘s first single, Songs for the Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age and One by One-era Foo Fighters-like dirge, which featured some arena rock friendly hooks. “The song came together very quickly; we had the arrangement laid out literally the second time through the tune,” the band says. “The simple kind of Willy Wonka vocal melody on the verse belies the heaviness of the lyrics and the urge of pure elation of giving into your worst tendencies, like scratching under a cast you know you really shouldn’t but it feels so good. Or the recovering alcoholic having a hard day and just deciding to really turn on and say ‘fuck it, i’m getting drunk tonight.’” Schadenfreude‘s second and latest single “Paul P Pogh” is an explosive track centered around enormous power chords, thunderous and angular drumming, arena rock hooks and plaintive hooks that sonically sounds like a sick synthesis of Superunknown-era Soundgarden and Thrice. But underneath the studio polish and self-assured performances, is something much darker.

“The name Paul P Pogh was a name I chose for my fake ID when I was in high school for buying beers at liquor stores in Louisville, which surprisingly worked,” the band’s Allen Epply explains in press notes. “It seemed appropriate for this song about ‘acting nets out to the liquor signs’ and a life spent chasing addiction.”

 

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays El Ten Eleven Releases a Mosh Pit Friendly Ripper

Since their formation in 2002, the Los Angeles-based post rock duo  El Ten Eleven — Kristian Dunn (double-neck bass/guitar) and Tim Fogarty (drums) — have released eight full-length albums and four EPs, which have helped to establish their reputation for a steadfast DIY approach and for using a dizzying array of effect and looping pedals to create a dense, complex and incredibly cinematic sound. 

As we all know, experiencing an unexpected and tragic loss often inspires a period of deep self-reflection — a time in which one may contemplate their own mortality, as well as their own place and purpose within the larger world. El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn found himself in a similar situation when a beloved family member of his died. And his own reflections on his life wound up emerging in the music he had started to write at the time. The end result is the band’s epic album Tautology, a sonic meditation on the arc of human life, composed in three parts starting from the teenage years, through middle age and then death. 

Sonically, the album echoes Dunn’s own personal experiences, veering from aggressive metal riffs to gorgeous and blissful ambient soundscapes. And while there are shared melodic and harmonic ideas throughout the album, each individual album has its own distinct qualities and character: Tautology I, which represents adolescence is reportedly angsty, aggressive and occasionally depressive; Tautology II, which represents middle aged reportedly features mid-tempo, head-nodding grooves; while Tautology III, which represents the golden years, is reportedly quiet and ambient. As a result, the 3LP album reportedly finds the duo pushing their sound into new territory, experimenting with a range of textures and soundscapes not heard on any previous El Ten Eleven effort. 

Dunn explains in press notes that there’s no right or wrong way to listen to Tautology, suggesting that a deep dive into the full project will yield rewards. “I think someone could listen to any one of the discs by themselves and have a really great experience—even if they didn’t know about the others. But if they do want to go deeper, I think there will be a lot of interesting stuff to discover. It works symbolically and it all connects. I think this is the best record we’ve ever done.”

Tautology I’s first single “With Report” is a decidedly aggressive song — and arguably the most aggressive of their catalog to date. Centered around a subtly expansive song structure, the song features buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming, a propulsive bass line and a rousing, mosh pit friendly hook, the track evokes the energy, and the piss and vinegar of foolhardy youth, “I wanted to represent what my teenage years were like, when I was full of testosterone and depression,” Kristian Dunn explains in press notes.  “When you’re a teenager everything feels so grandiose and dramatic.”

Tracing their origins to a chance meeting at DIY show in 2015, the Brooklyn-based post rock electronic band and experimental performance art Reliant Tom is centered around its core creative duo, Western Massachusetts-born, Brooklyn-based composer Monte Weber and Dallas, TX-born, Brooklyn-based choreographer and vocalist Claire Cuny. The duo’s collaboration is a seamless synthesis of their individual talents and interests – sound design, wearable technology, modern dance and hook-driven, yet genre-defying songwriting.

“Reliant Tom gives me the outlet to explore both pulse driven works while maintaining the other musical elements which I find fascinating — timbre, aleatoric processes, and interactive technologies,” Weber explains. Adds Cuny, “Our ultimate goal with Reliant Tom is to be a multi-media performance experience that straddles the line between pop and experimental music — and philosophizing about what that even means, and is that even possible as ‘experimental pop’?”

Thematically, the duo’s two previous releases, 2016’s self-released, self-titled EP and 2018’s critically applauded, full-length debut effort Bad Orange, touch upon the pitfalls of digital communication and the generally blasé nature of modern social interaction – through the guise of avant-pop and avant-punk influenced musical devices and arrangements featuring electric guitar, vocals, a hybrid electro-acoustic drum kit, synthesizers and Weber’s Kontrol Instrument, which he developed while studying at the Paris-based Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music as a way to make electronic music more tactile and immersive in its performance.

Slated for a Spring 2020 release through Chicago-based Diversion Records, Reliant Tom’s sophomore effort Rewind & Play is a decidedly bold and self-assured step forward: Cuny’s sultry and expressive vocals while being prominently placed front and center, effortlessly glide over lush yet spacious arrangements of shimmering acoustic guitars, atmospheric electronics and twinkling keys with the material possessing a cinematic air that recalls Dummy-era Portishead, Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp, Radiohead circa OK Computer and others. And while continuing to be tech heavy in their means of sonic production, their thematic exploration of communication and interaction in the digital age takes a back seat. This time taking a more human approach, the material may arguably be the most mature yet accessible, most emotionally honest and vulnerable of their growing catalog, as the album’s central theme is a documentation of Cuny’s descent into grief and depression after her father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in front of her — on the release of day of Reliant Tom’s debut album.

“Nevermind the Garbage,” Rewind & Play‘s aching and brooding first single is centered around a cyclical arrangement of shimmering and wobbly guitars, twinkling piano and atmospheric synths that makes the song swoon from the dark and overwhelming weight  of loss and grief — and the knowledge that while you will find some way to push forward, that deep down you’ll recognize that your life will never quite be the same. “The song is about trying to return to a semi-normal routine by learning to manage the grief and anxiety that overcame me after the sudden loss of my father,” the band’s Claire Cuny explains. “My state was complex and somewhat guilt ridden because all I could feel was sadness. Even though I was at a good point in my life, with a loving partner, and reminded daily how fortunate I was when seeing the more severe hardships of other people such as chronic health issues and homelessness… all I could feel was despair, not the love or gratitude – but when you’re in the depth of your darkness it’s hard to feel much else.”

As a recently published Harvard Business Review article has suggested, we’re collectively experiencing a universal sense of overwhelming grief and uncertainty. Let’s be honest here, things are pretty bleak: on a daily basis, we’re hearing about hundreds upon hundreds of people dying from a communicable disease that any one of us could catch — and could possibly be carrying unknowingly. In New York, my home borough of Queens has been hit the hardest with the most cases and most deaths. Most of those poor souls have been heading to Elmhurst Hospital, and it means that the victims of COVID-19 live and/or work in (all or parts of) the neighborhoods of Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Woodhaven, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Corona, Rego Park and Forest Hills. We’re talking about neighbors, coworkers, associates, the grocer, your bodega guy, your FedEx guy and so on. And there’s this sense among us that things will never quite be the same once this is over. How will we move forward? I don’t know. But what I can say is that the song’s creators never would have thought that such an achingly personal song would have such a deeper, universal meaning.

New Video: Mexico City’s Muuk Releases a Hypnotic and Unsettling Visual for “Seis Ausente”

Muuk is a Mexico City-based experimental rock act, comprised of Emiliano Baena (bass), JC Guerreo (beats, samples), LS Rodriguez (guitar), Omar Carapia (synths) and Erre Guevara (drums). Formed back in 2013, the act meshes electronic elements (turntables, sequencers, synthesizers and samples) with traditional rock instrumentation (guitar, bass and drums) to create a dense, frenetic and thunderous sound, centered around uncommon harmonies and improvisational passages.

Shortly, after their formation the Mexican experimental rock quintet recorded a homemade self-titled EP, which led to appearances across Mexico’s outdoor festival circuit with a number of collectives including Aqui no Hubo Escena (Here There Was No Scene), Colapso Post Rock, Lxs Grixes, Noise Affair and others. The members of Muuk followed up 2013’s debut EP with a small, handmade physical release in 2015 that was reviewed by a nubmer of outlets both nationally and internationally including Marvin, IMAS, URL Magazine, Letras Explicitas, Noisey, Remezcla, Post Rock, Faeton Music and Atlas of Sound. Album tracks “Are You Mad,” “De Niro” and  “Trypophobia” received airplay from Codigo DF Radio, GritaRadio and NoFM Radio.

The album was also named one of the best albums of the year by the likes of Indie Rocks and Sound & Vision. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the band appeared in the documentary film Aqui No Hubo Escena, which offered a snapshot of Mexico City’s indie music scene. The band has also played sets at some of their hometown’s most important venues and clubs including Foro Indie Rocks, Caradura, Imperial, Pasaguero, Multiforo Cultural Alicia, Mutliforo 246 and Centro de Cultura Digital y Bajo Circuito.

May 2018 saw the members of Muuk collaborate with members of B.A.R.D.O.S.S. on an  improvised recording session titled Octomano. That July saw the band play the Hipnosis Festival lineup reveal gig at the Foro Indie Rocks. Last year, the band wrote and recorded their recently  sophomore album Balbuceo, which was released through Devil in the Woods Records.

Balbuceo‘s first single “Seis Ausente” is a genre-defying song featuring elements of prog rock, psych rock, shoegaze, post rock and even Dilla-esque beatmaking as the track is centered around a mesmerizing arrangement of found vocal samples, shimmering and atmospheric synths and swirling electronics, boom bap-like drumming, a funky bass line and bursts of guitar feedback. And from Balbuceo‘s first single, the rising Mexican act specializes in synthesizing elements of the familiar into something explosive and completely novel.

The recently released visual for “Seis Ausente” manages to be hypnotic and unsettling: the viewer sees some gorgeously detailed line drawings pulsating and undulating to the song’s mesmerizing and trippy arrangement, and as the visual progresses, the drawings are overcome with explosive splashes of color — particularly a blood-like red. 

New Video: Acclaimed Canadian Experimental Rock Act WHOOP-Szo Releases a Gorgeous and Cinematic Visual for Expansive “Amaruq”

Featuring members who split their time between London, Ontario and Guelph, Ontario, WHOOP-Szo is an acclaimed DIY prog rock/experimental rock act centered around a core  group led by Adam Sturgeon (vocals, guitar), who is a proud member of the indigenous Anishinaabe community; Kirsten Kurvink Palm (guitar, synths, vocals), Joe Thorner (bass, vocals, Casio), Andrew Lennox (12 string guitar, synth) and Eric Lourenco (drums) with a rotating cast of collaborators. Since their formation, the act has received attention  for enthusiastically crossing, meshing and blurring genres, sounds and styles: their sound is a fusion of folk, metal, pop, grunge, classical, psych rock, noise and prog rock. Thematically, their work focuses upon the effects of colonialism and colonization, self-determination, language and history, identity, empowerment and so on. 

Through frequent touring across North America, the band has developed a reputation for being a relentless force of nature, enveloping audiences in an emotional storm that dances conscientiously between anger, frustration, discipline and hope. Along with that, the collective is known for their passion for social work and activism — particularly when it involves Canada’s indigenous communities. 

The acclaimed Canadian act’s forthcoming album Warrior Down focuses on finding identity when it has been exterminated from your life. The material looks into the past — not with hazy nostalgia but as a way to find an indigenous future. “There is no single stereotype to associate with indigenous people.” the band writes in a statement. “The image taught in history books is not the reality of modern indigenous experience. We live in cities, have to drive cars and do a lot of the same things everyone else has to do to survive. 

“Indigenous people are not relegated to the past, but sometimes that past can help you look into the future. We can enjoy making art in contemporary ways and we love future tropes; Star Trek, Star Wars and 80’s miniatures are relatable to our community.”

Centered around propulsive and tribal-like drumming, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, atmospheric synths and arena rock-like power chords, Warrior Down’s latest single “Amaruq” is a expansive and mind-bending song that’s a seamless synthesis of prog rock, metal and post rock that captures and evokes the concerns and thoughts of the Inuit community with a conscientious and rabble-rousing spirit. “‘Amarug’ is a dedication to the Inuit village that helped birth WHOOP-Szo,” the band explains. “The song itself is named after the remote, fly-community of Salluit, Quebec’s local high school.” 

Directed by Ross Millar, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Amaruq” employs the use of miniatures and action figures in what looks to be Northern Quebec. Throughout the video, its protagonist, who’s set in contemporary times with electricity, technology, modern houses stumbles onto a portal that allows him to contact to the past — and with the ancients. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the rapidly rising New York-based avant garde/experimental act Activity. Now, as you may recall, the act which features Grooms‘ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse‘s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths‘ Jess Rees have received attention across the blogosphere for a natural, minimal and intelligent use of modern production paired with organic instrumentation.

Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, and the album’s material reportedly sees its creators ability gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and cooperation to form a menacing and uneasy framework — with which they pair lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. “Calls Your Name” was centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce.

“Earth Angel,” Unmask Whoever‘s latest single is slow-burning, minimal “Earth Angel.” Centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, blasts of feedback and distortion-effected pedals, the track features what may arguably be one of the most painful sounding vocals I’ve heard in some time, as vocalist Travis Johnson’s voice stars off as a whisper before turning into a vocal cord tearing shout.

It’s a song about the freedom of a lifelong love” vocalist Travis Johnson explains. “I think we were going for a very Talk Talk Laughing Stock vibe in general. The vocals at the end physically hurt to perform… I could taste blood.”

Activity has a handful of live dates, including two NYC area dates: February 27, 2020 at Union Pool and an April 2, 2020 release party show at Baby’s All Right. Check out the tour dates below.

Live Dates:
 
02/27: Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
04/02: Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right (Release Party)
04/16: Washington, DC – Rhizome
04/17: Richmond, VA – Fuzzy Cactus
04/18: Philadelphia, PA – Ortlieb’s

 

Muuk is a Mexico City-based experimental rock act, comprised of Emiliano Baena (bass), JC Guerreo (beats, samples), LS Rodriguez (guitar), Omar Carapia (synths) and Erre Guevara (drums). Formed back in 2013, the act meshes electronic elements (turntables, sequencers, synthesizers and samples) with traditional rock instrumentation (guitar, bass and drums) to create a dense, frenetic and thunderous sound, centered around uncommon harmonies and improvisational passages.

Shortly, after their formation the Mexican experimental rock quintet recorded a homemade self-titled EP, which led to appearances across Mexico’s outdoor festival circuit with a number of collectives including Aqui no Hubo Escena (Here There Was No Scene), Colapso Post Rock, Lxs Grixes, Noise Affair and others. The members of Muuk followed up 2013’s debut EP with a small, handmade physical release in 2015 that was reviewed by a nubmer of outlets both nationally and internationally including Marvin, IMAS, URL Magazine, Letras Explicitas, Noisey, Remezcla, Post Rock, Faeton Music and Atlas of Sound. Album tracks “Are You Mad,” “De Niro” and  “Trypophobia” received airplay from Codigo DF Radio, GritaRadio and NoFM Radio.

The album was also named one of the best albums of the year by the likes of Indie Rocks and Sound & Vision. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the band appeared in the documentary film Aqui No Hubo Escena, which offered a snapshot of Mexico City’s indie music scene. The band has also played sets at some of their hometown’s most important venues and clubs including Foro Indie Rocks, Caradura, Imperial, Pasaguero, Multiforo Cultural Alicia, Mutliforo 246 and Centro de Cultura Digital y Bajo Circuito.

May 2018 saw the members of Muuk collaborate with members of B.A.R.D.O.S.S. on an  improvised recording session titled Octomano. That July saw the band play the Hipnosis Festival lineup reveal gig at the Foro Indie Rocks. Last year, the band wrote and recorded their sophomore album Balbuceo, an effort mixed by Dalek’s Alap Momin and is slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Devil in the Woods Records.

Balbuceo‘s first single “Seis Ausente” is a genre-defying song featuring elements of prog rock, psych rock, shoegaze, post rock and even Dilla-esque beatmaking as the track is centered around a mesmerizing arrangement of found vocal samples, shimmering and atmospheric synths and swirling electronics, boom bap-like drumming, a funky bass line and bursts of guitar feedback. And from Balbuceo‘s first single, the rising Mexican act specializes in synthesizing elements of the familiar into something completely novel.