Archive for March, 2012

Review: The Absolute End Of The World – Welcome Time Travellers

With a name as portentous as The Absolute End Of The World, the music can only be of the post-rock variety. Sure enough, post rock is the favoured genre here but the product of solo performer Luca Maugeri from Italy summons up feelings of hope rather than despair.

The EP begins with ‘The Grand Design’, a suitably instrumental epic which befits its title. Within its four minutes, guitar effects and keyboards glide towards a euphoric state. ‘L’importanza del silenzio’ and ‘The Lamp Post’ takes a more relaxed journey although they both reach some lovey melodic peaks along the way. For the final two pieces, ‘Suibeom’ threatens to move in to harsher territory with its more abrasive guitar figure and some glitchy beats but ‘196 Rondò Forca Ovest’ gets its message across through piano and spoken word.

For all the extravagant titles, Maugeri’s music is genuinely moving and refreshing free of the bombast which so many contemporaries choose to pursue. Bonus points too for the brevity and tunefulness of each track here.

Web Sites:
The Absolute End Of The World Bandcamp
The Absolute End Of The World MySpace

Further Listening:
Raymond Scott Woolson, Dextro


Review: Songs For The Sleepwalkers – Our Rehearsed Spontaneous Reactions

Sweden-based singer songwriter Andrea Caccese is refreshingly candid about his music, explaining that his new album is “full of imperfections” and he couldn’t tell if it “is a good record or not”. After listening to his first album, it is tempting to agree with him but there’s certainly plenty of potential, particularly on the first two songs.

‘Icarus Falling’ begins like an earnest modern folk song but by its end, it has veered into abstract territory, where hypnotic drones merge deliciously with cello. Then ‘Down The Line’ treads a similarly appealing line between warmth and bleak moods but thereafter Caccese performs largely alone and with mixed results.

In the case of ‘We Are Still Here’ the approach seems to be paving the way for Snow Patrol-style anthems and even its lyric of “Looking for another star” seems rather contrived whereas ‘Set The World On Fire’ is a little more understated and consequently more convincing. Those two tracks couldn’t contrast further from the experimental ‘Asleep’ and ‘Awake’; the first sees intricate guitar patterns interweave with ghostly harmonies whilst the second brings dischord in to proceedings. Then, in a final twist, the remaining two tracks fit in to a more traditonal form of songwriting; ‘Tell Me How’ benefitting from the employment of haunting echo effects and making a fine bedfellow for a raw finale entitled ‘What If I Do’.

Even at this early stage of his music career, ‘Our Rehearsed Spontaneous Reactions’ already seems like a crossroads for Caccese. The album sounds like the work of three or four different solo artists each pulling in a different direction although the post-rock route seems to be the best option on this evidence.

Web Sites:
Songs For The Sleepwalkers Official Site
Songs For The Sleepwalkers Bandcamp

Review: The Machine Room – Love From A Distance

Scotland isn’t a country normally associated with electronic music but here we have Edinburgh’s The Machine Room to buck that particular trend. ‘Love From A Distance’ is their first EP and already these four tracks point towards a superior form of propulsive synth pop.

‘Your Head On The Floor Next Door’ is not only a great title for a first song but also a very good taster for The Machine Room’s brand of emotive electro-pop. The twist comes courtesy of the Scottish-accented vocals from John Bryden. ‘Camino De Soda’ was their first single which melds tinny synths and programmed beats to a euphoric turn from their frontman. It’s epic, unashamedly nostalgic and – for all that – rather brilliant. If ‘Cost Of Progress’ ironically fals to convince with its busy, modern approach, the last track ‘Picking Holes’ demonstrates their dreampop roots thanks to its wind tunnel guitars.

Like Delphic, The Machine Room make swooning electro-pop with New Order-style rhythms. However, there’s an unforced sense of romance to these songs which propels this EP beyond the realms of a young band trying to capture the essence of a movement from decades ago.

Web Sites:
The Machine Room Tumblr

Further Listening:
Delphic, Puressence

Review: Cormac O’Caoimh – A New Season For Love

Once the former leader of Irish group The Citadels, Cormac O’Caoimh branched out to a solo album with 2007’s ‘Start A Spark’. It was an occasionally great but rather mixed affair which seemed caught between a rock and a folk place. Five years on, the singer/songwriter has taken his time on the follow-up but he’s certainly put it to good use.

From the off – courtesy of ‘There’s Gold There Somewhere’ – the mood is relaxed and blessed with a similar rainy day atmosphere to Ben Watt’s ‘North Marine Drive’. To bring up a modern day reference, the effortless melancholia of Kings Of Convenience can be heard in the title track too.

However, to make these (albeit favourable) comparisons only scratches the surface, O’Caoimh sounds more comfortable now than ever. ‘And The Rain Falls’ and ‘Head On’ are beautifully tender folk songs but even they are bettered by the heartfelt ‘100,000’. There is a slight tail-off in quality as the album draws to a close but ‘Heart Attack’ makes a convincing bid for a bluesier Nick Drake whilst ‘Just Love Here’ is a romantic and touching closer.

A criticism of O’Caoimh might be that he tried too hard on past releases but here he keeps things simple and the result is a cohesive and excellent album. What is more, his voice is a wonderfully expressive instrument.

Web Sites:
The Citadels and Cormac O’Caoimh Official Site

Further Listening:
Kings Of Convenience, Ben Watt, Nick Drake, Declan O’Rourke