Dutch prog rock duo Tilburg — Timo Janse (guitar), Whisper of the Dragons’ M Hopkins (keys) — released their full-length debut, Tales of the Spanish Kings last year. The album is a concept album influenced by 70s prog rock movement — but with harder, more modern metal-like guitar and electronic sounds. As the duo explain, “The goal of the album was to bring a new progressive rock sound along with honoring the greats who came before us.”
The album can be traced back to recording sessions that began in late 2009 with a band named Kinder Voss that featured M. Hopkins, along with Kiwi guitarist Brendon Wright and German vocalist Gabby Koss, who had stints with Haggard, Nota Profana and Equilibrium. Because of Koss’ scheduling conflicts, recording sessions were faulted and the album was eventually shelved.
Hopkins went on to do soundtrack work but he decided to revisit the album. eventually recruiting Janse to complete the material. By last Spring, the duo had finally finished the album and decided to call their project Tilburg, after a town known for being a populate site of rock shows in The Netherlands.
“The Whale” is an expansive and cinematic composition that meshes elements of prog rock, progressive metal and post rock in a way that recalls German post rock outfit Collapse Under the Empire while sounding as though it would be part of the soundtrack of a post apocalyptic sci fi or action film.
Christopher Cordoba is a London-based instrumental solo artist, composer and session musician, whose career started in earnest as a member of Jack Adaptor, a band formed with The Family Cat’s Paul Frederick. As an instrumental solo artist, Cordoba has released a series of critically acclaimed, eclectic efforts that has seen him collaborating with a an equally eclectic array of artists and producers including Robert Wyatt David Watson, The Associates’ Billy Mackenzie, Phil Vinall, Propaganda’s Claudia Brucken, Robyn Hitchcock, Pascal Gabriel, PJ Harvey’s Terry Edwards, Audrey Riley, Alex Thomas, Charlie Winston and a list of others.
Cordoba released his sophomore Beach ReadyArchipelago was released earlier this year through Snow in Water Records. The album’s material is darker in texture and more extreme than Cordoba’s self-titled Beach Ready debut while still being centered around Cordoba’s guitar work and penchant for atmospheric soundscapes. The album also sees Cordoba incorporating drone, glitch, Frippertronics, industrial, New Wave and New age to create a unique sound collage that imparts an urgent ambience. Fittingly, the album thematically focuses on destruction — an all too present theme in our seemingly pre-apocalyptic moment.
The album’s latest single, the meditative “Gili” is a shimmering and slow-burning dream built around glistening, reverb-soaked guitars, gently glitchy electronics paired with jazz-like percussion. It’s a dreamy bit of nostalgia, heartache and peaceful longing that seems like a bit of a respite in a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
Cordoba explains that “Gili” “is a shimmering and romantic call to keep the Archipelago (the Gili Islands in Indonesia) above water so that its beauty can be treasured for generations to come.”
The accompanying video is time-lapse footage shot in Lower Manhattan and edited by Jon Sadlier. Fittingly, the video evokes the unending passing of time and cycling of the seasons.
Paris-based quarter Autómata formed back in 2019. And since their formation, they’ve specialized in a post-rock sound that blends elements of metal, pop, prog rock and electronic music.
The French quartet’s recently released sophomore album sees the band crafting a dark and brooding sound that blends elements of post-rock, prog rock, pop and metal. The album’s latest single “Mad Motor” is a slow-burning, meditative composition featuring shimmering guitar work, a supple bass line, twinkling keys paired with dramatic drumming and a sultry vocal sample. Sonically speaking, “Mad Motor” sees the French outfit channeling Public Service Broadcasting, Mogwai, Collapse Under The Empire and others, while possessing a similar cinematic quality.
The accompanying video is comprised of slickly edited stock footage from the early days of The Space Age with cigar-shaped space ships, astronauts landing on new worlds that dimly resemble Earth and more.
Back in 2013, they release their self-titled debut EP. They followed up with a live improvised album 2014’s À l’écart and their full-length debut, 2016’s des lignes, which was released through Cuchabata Records to attention both nationally and internationally.
2021’s Le sacre de Sainte-Barbe is a concept album that thematically focused on the band’s singular relation to a small town in Southwestern Québec.
Earlier this year, Montréal-based collective ce qui nous traverse released Particules de Sainte-Barbe through Vancouver-based indie label Kingfisher Bluez. Particules de Sainte-Barbe was conceived as a complementary epilogue to their conceptual full-length debut, 2021’s Le sacre de Sainte-Barbe.
Much like its predecessor, the Montréal-based collective’s sophomore album thematically explores life in rural Québec and the nocturnal life. But the album’s material is orientated around an exploration of “the mysterious and enigmatic character of the anonymous villages that we pass by on the road without realizing it.” Written and recorded between Montréal and Sainte-Barbe in Montérégie, Québec, the collective’s twelve musicians created a mix of improvisation and original compositions that go across a wide range of styles and genres, including post-punk, jazz, shoegaze and more.
Particules de Sainte-Barbe‘s lead single “. . .et des éclairs” is an expansive bit of krautrock that begins with a dreamy and atmospheric introduction with twinkling percussion, followed a middle section that features a breakneck, motorik groove-driven gallop and reverb-drenched, shoegazer guitar textures before ending with a slow-burning fade out.
While sonically bringing fellow Montrealers Yoo Doo Right to mind, “. . . et des éclairs” evokes late night driving through country roads, seeing the endless blacktop and yellow-lines with everything else blurring past you.
London-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Oscar “Sholto” Robertson grew up with a deep and abiding love of jazz, soul, krautrock and 60s and 70s soundtracks. Roberton may be best known for being one-half of indie outfit Sunglasses for Jaws. He honed his production skills under the guidance of Allah-Las‘ Nick Waterhouse and Inflo.
Three years ago, Robertson stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with his latest project SHOLTO, which sees him crafting a unique take on cinematic, instrumental soul. 2023 looks to be a big year for the rising London-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer: He signed to Deep Matter imprint Root Records, who will be releasing Robertson’s SHOLTO debut, The Changing Tides of Dreams EP.
Earlier this year, I wrote about “Vampire,” an expansive and cinematic arrangement that featured twinkling percussion, swirling Wurlitzer organ, cascading harp, lush strings, bursts of fluttering flute, a supple and propulsive bass line, a soulful horn solo and skittering boom bap drumming paired with a strutting groove. The result is a song that reminds me a bit of the gorgeous, widescreen instrumental soul of The Ironsides with the trippy grooves of L’Eclair and Mildlife.
The Changing Tides of Dreams EP‘s latest single, the breathtakingly gorgeous “Pearl That Glitters” is built around a lush string and cascading harp arrangement with bursts of twinkling keys and reverb-drenched bursts of guitar. Inspired by soundtrack composers like Piero Umiliani and David Axelrod, the composition is fairly literal in its meaning, with the music being written to evoke the reflection of sunlight shimmering and reflecting off the iridescent insides of a pearl.
Ugandan-born, Brussels-based producer and musician, born Alban Murenzi is best known as a founding member of successful sibling indie R&B outfit YellowStraps. The accomplished duo released their 2018’s Blame EP through Majestic Casual. They performed on the tastemaker platform COLORS back in 2019.
They followed that up with 2020’s Golddress EP and last year’s tentacle which saw Murenzi adopt the moniker Halibab Matador, before he stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist.
Murenzi’s full-length debut as Halibab Matador, Souvenirs is slated for release this year, and the album sees the Ugandan-Belgian producer and musician focusing on largely instrumental and beat-driven material that fuses elements of hip-hop, jazz and soul.
Earlier this month, I wrote about album single “Lili,” which saw the acclaimed Brussels-based musician and producer collaborating with Léa Kadian, who contributes a supple bass line, twinkling keys from Tim de Fontaine and soulful vocal harmonies from Stacy de Bruges. The result is a vibey, neo-soul lullaby of sorts that evokes the comfort of a warm blanket on a chilly day — or seeing your lover smile after a period of absence.
“This song is dedicated to my lover. For me, it represents light, warmth and freedom,” the Ugandan-Belgian producer and musician explains. “It represents the good fortune of being alive and experiencing beautiful moments of joy.
“Léa Kadian on bass and Stacy de Bruges on vocal harmonies. I love what they do and feel privileged to be able to collaborate with such talented people. My friend Tim de Fontaine also chipped in with some sweet piano notes.”
“White Pages,” Souvenirs‘ latest single is a built around a looped, finger-plucked, shimmering guitar melody paired with atmospheric synths. While seemingly being a synthesis of Nick Drake-like folk and ambient electronica, the ethereal “White Pages,” possesses a wistful and nostalgic air.
“This track is the most nostalgic track on the project. It was created two years ago with my friend Tim when we were flatmates. Tim came up with these chord ideas and I instantly loved it,” the acclaimed Ugandan-Belgian artist explains. “Then we started playing this loop with two guitars and just jammed on it. It was a great feeling. We both love the nostalgic feels of music in general – it always has some beauty in it I think.
“For me it was a nice track to conclude the album because it’s an accurate summary of what I tried to share with those tracks. In this album I tried to share a feeling of nostalgia linked to the souvenirs we can have in a lifetime. A happy nostalgia that reminds us how lucky we are to have experienced all these moments, and the hope of reliving many more in the future.
I also like the fact that the song ends with this ‘reverse’ effect, as it gives the impression of a flashback to the past.”