Archive for February, 2012

Review: Radio For The Daydreamers – Praying For The Be(a)st

By way of an introduction, the first Radio For The Daydreamers was entitled ‘Mother Superior And Her Fields Of Migraine’; Part One of a triptych which dealt with accepting evil. The second documents the “struggle to find a cure to the plague that his mind has become after visiting Mother Superior in the first act”. Once again, admirers of the Handbag House movement are likely to be disappointed.

Indeed, once again, ‘Praying For The Be(a)st’ can be loosely defined as post-rock but – just like its predecessor – that only tells half the story. We are greeted by haunted female vocals, cute keyboards, menacing trip-hop and crisp rhythms and that’s just the first track. During the seventy-plus minutes, highpoints include a warm and doleful ‘Wasted Faces In Secret Places’, the combination of sighing strings and throbbing rhythms for ‘Neither Of Us Will Live On’, plus the brilliant if rather self-explanatory ‘Prog Jazz’. Indeed, jazz music seems a fine move for Radio For The Daydreamers as ‘Necrosis Stupor’ and ‘Curl Up, Time To Die’ benefit from a sense of space and diverting time signatures. Certainly, those tracks are an easier listen than some of the evil-sounding narratives towards the end of the album.

Even though the bleak mood is omnipresent, the good quality of music is equally consistent. ‘Praying For The Be(a)st’ will be hard going for many but for those who value dark, instrumental material, there is much to feast on.

Web Sites:
Radio For The Daydreamers Official Site
Radio For The Daydreamers Bandcamp

Further Listening:

Review: Embark – Inside Andromeda

Embark is the nom de plume of a French musician called David Teboul and ‘Inside Andromeda’ is said to have been recorded “at home between the shouts of my children”. With such a difficult obstacle to overcome, it’s to Teboul’s credit that he’s managed to put together five largely electronic-based tracks.

The EP begins, perhaps sensibly, with the most radio-friendly offering, ‘It’s Time To Go’. It’s based on the simplest of riffs and even simpler lyrics (the title repeated ad infinitum) but strangely satisfying thanks to the fleshy percussion, strident bass and serene keyboard washes. ‘By The Sea’ moves in to prog rock territory with aching guitar melody and its followed by the sinister ambience of ‘Everyone But You’; a moment which unearths the common ground between Tangerine Dream and early Depeche Mode. Teboul chooses to whisper in English through most of these tracks but the notable exception is ‘La Terre Tombe En Morceaux’ spoken in his native language; the threatening delivery given further ballast by some stentorian keyboards. Finally, ‘Sunrise With Sea Monsters’ seems to borrow a bassline from Breathless and is a suitably moody way to end the EP.

‘Inside Andromeda’ does seem a little dated thanks to its progessive tendencies but Teboul has assembled some inventive, original arrangements. Let’s hope the children allow him to make an album next time.

Web Sites:
Embark Bandcamp

Further Listening:
Tangerine Dream, Breathless

Review: How How – Flickers

In May 2011, this blog described How How’s first EP ‘Bumpy’ as uneven, awkward and queasy. Fast forward to the present day and little has changed for their new album ‘Flickers’, which contains fine moments but the whole package doesn’t quite convince.

As the album opener, ‘Bumpy’ (which strangely didn’t appear on the identically-titled EP) sets expectations for experimental electronica seemingly influenced by Japanese artists. The childlike vocals are muffled and distorted, not unlike Múm. ‘Tetrolux’ is underscored by excitable beats but they can’t disguise a woozy feeling of sadness.

However, the main problem with ‘Flickers’ is its lack of focus as promising moments dither and deviate on the threshold of something special. In this company, ‘Kuterek’ is like a breath of fresh air. Its simple acoustic figure and seaside sample neatly segues into ‘Klakier’s Nap’. ‘K2’ is another one of the most coherent tracks but ‘GM’ provides the biggest frustration as its promising melancholic verses meander too much in to abstract territory.

Rather like their EP, ‘Flickers’ is sporadically good but How How’s songs tend to be made of sleepy half-melodies rather than nailed-on hooks. So this is one of those albums where nothing sounds wrong but nothing really stands out either.

Web Sites:
How How Bancamp

Further Listening:
anata wa sukkari tsukarete shimai, Múm