4/03/2018

Looms - How It Has to Be



I'm quite busy lately. My daughter is more demanding too. She builds her own music taste which is mostly about repeating one song as long as human being can handle. Reviewing isn't easy if all you hear in your head is "the wheels on a bus going round and round". Especially if album is not easy either. But I guess this is how it has to be...

I actually like to excuse myself with how busy I am. Work, family, gym, books, work again... In fact we're all very busy nowadays. If you're an adult and you're not tired, you doing it wrong. It used to be a joke when I was younger. Lads from Looms know exactly what I mean as they live in New York which is known as the busiest place on earth. When I got their LP "How It Has to Be" and played it few times but couldn't focus on it. There is too many things happening here to just play it somewhere in a background of cooking pasta. And being busy has nothing to do with it. Breakthrough was when I came back home more tired than usually. I get myself a glass of whiskey and spin the record again. 


This album isn't easy in a meaning it requires all your attention. It's like that girl at Uni. You know her, she is on a same lecture as you, you say hi to her at the campus and that's it. But then one day you look at her and realise she is absolutely beautiful. Looms latest work is patient too. It waits for the right moment to show all the charm. And then you just feel stupid you haven't seen that from the very beginning. Cause "How It Has to Be" is actually all the remedy for stress and tiredness.


First I was hit with rhythmic section. I had to check is the drummer a living person. He is! Zach Eichenhorn. I'm not saying he is showing off with crazy techniques or fast hand breaking solos. He is like Ringo Starr, every single bit is perfect and fits to the songs so well I couldn't imagine alternative universe where it would be played better. He is squeezing every juicy kick and snare from the drums, to the very last drop. It's like a heaven for all the people who love to drum with fingers on a table.
Hammond Murray assist him in a best way possible. Bass is so often underestimate but here is a spine to every beat, every tact and every riff. Guitars (Harry Morris Jr. and Sharif Mekawy) are slowly building a lace around that core. Very bluesy and folky, with that lovely hint of country which reminds me lazy evening on a country side. Sherif Mekawy ornaments it all with his voice and keys. There is something dreamy about these vocals. My first thought was Kristian Matsson aka. The Tallest Man On Earth but there is so much more, Jack White, Dan McLean, you name it.


It's not an easy album even though it is so easy to listen to it. It's a lace of sounds. It has a core, a main theme. But whole art lays in these tiny details you don't see at the first sight. Bass and drums are the core, then there are electronic bits here and there, sometimes almost silly, sometimes freaky like from Twin Peaks, then guitars which are breaking into overdrive riffs just to go back to where they were before. Tiny Hammond's organ solo, sleepy ending of the album. And lyrics. Jeez, once you get all these music details you have time to focus on what Sharif tries to tell us. But that would be a topic for another review.
It's a lace. You walk by, you look. A lace. 
But if you look closer you'll see an art, an amazing example of real craft. And as with real craft it is so easy to miss it. But I guess this is how it has to be...


Album was released as a black LP by Little Dickman Records. Very neat cover. I like this graphic even more as a part of record's label. Disc itself sounds really good, way better than digital. Black inner sleeve keeps the total atmosphere however I'd love to have some lyrics on it. Even though it was released almost a year ago it is still available by group's bandcamp. And remember it is a brilliant, reusable stress relief medicine.  

2/25/2018

Zombie Picnic - Rise of a New Ideology


I live in Dublin. Since I moved here from Poland I've heard many jokes and tales of Limerick. Mostly about how dangerous and sad city is that. I was there few times and even though it is not as bad as the tales says you can tell gang wars had a massive impact on what that city is now. Underrated. No wonder why new ideology rises exactly there...


Zombie Picnic are from Limerick. Their first album "A Suburb of Earth" from 2016, oscillated roughly around psychodelic post rock, as the name itself suggests. Full of worrisome sounds of songs titled like "The B141 Frequency" or "The Cylindrical Sea". However that record was a bit random, not very even. Few times I get lost in sounds there. Their second piece, which will be released in just couple of a days is quite different. Actually totally different in every aspect!


Titled "Rise of a New Ideology" gets the attention from the first seconds of listening. Sample of interview with some modern thinker tells us: "democracy cannot survive". Next titles: "They See Science as Dangerous", "DEFCON", "Life-Support Systems", See Beyond" and finishing the album "Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow)" aren't give us any optimistic view of the future. Through all record only vocal we'll get are samples of voices of Bill Moyers, Isaac Asimov or Franklin D. Roosvelt. OK, that might be misleading. These parts aren't the key to that music, they are only accompaniment to it. Whole is quite disturbing. For example, we hear about Mass Extinction but music is very pleasant. It's like we already agreed on how it will all end. There is nothing to fight for. The scariest thing though is we might recognise the voices which predict all these horrible things, we know them from the past, however whenever we turn television on we see that things actually happening now. "Rise of a New Ideology" is like God's finger saying "I told you...". It doesn't have to shout. It might be just a whisper. It's very loud in our heads though, cause we know he's right. 


Is it psychodelic? Yes it is, but not really in a meaning we know psychodelic rock. The story definitely works on my imagination but I wouldn't call that album a psychodelic rock piece though.  That's just not enough. What is it then? Well, we got here loads of post stuff in a best Mogwai style. But Zombie Picnic is way beyond that. This album is very progressive but not in Pink Floyd way. They don't try to prove anyone they can change tempo or play crazy solos, brake harmonious or do other prog stuff. They play it because they can. Period. Not for a single note I had a feeling they try to show off. It's natural and extremely pleasant in it's form, I wasn't overwhelmed with any sound, everything is beautifully balanced and dosed. Very even!


Album will be released on 9th of March by Golden Shred Records. It is available in pre order now in three variants. Digital, limited black vinyl, and super limited vinyl effect CD. Obviously I got vinyl and  I love it! Heavy weight black disc, very neat press. Brilliant labels! I love when labels refer to cover. Outer sleeve is also clean and neat. High quality paper, stunning cover. Id' love to get printed inner sleeve with all quotes from the album, with the pictures of their authors and some more of similar graphics from the cover but it is only plain white one. Well, can't get everything and I understand costs of these extravagancies.


You need a real talent to play psychodelic rock which isn't boring. Talent to write interesting songs. You need skill to play prog rock. Years of practice, blood, tears and sacrifices. Zombie Picnic have both. And with "Rise of a New Ideology" they found their place in music. New Ideology rises in the west... Behold.




8/01/2017

Belly Hole Freak - Superfreak




Freaks. There is a certain type of people afraid of freaks. People who would walk other side of the street and trying not to catch eye contact. There are more extreme examples as well. People who would keep all freaks in closed areas. People who would like to get rid of all of the freaks.
Then there is different type. People who associates themselves with freaks and they're trying to get as freaky as they can. Tattoos on eyeballs, fake horns, snake tongues, etc. Doesn't matter how but we were always fascinated with freaks.


Let's go back in time a hundred years. Where you could find freaks? Well, in circus. There were animal tamers, acrobats and clowns in circus. But also other, strange company. Lady with beard. Freak. Toddler with four legs. Freak. Gentleman with massive moustache and muscles big enough to lift couple of town hustlers. Freak. Gypsy clairvoyant. Freak. Girl who eats stones. Freak. Living magnet grandpa with cutlery attracted to his chest. Freak. 
After each show team was partying to release the stress, to relax, within their own company. There was loads of alcohol, rolled cigarettes, music by the circus orchestra so with loads of brass, drums, cymbals. As the band was jumble of different nationalities so the music also was strange. Freaky.


Belly Hole Freak is a superfreak indeed. Mixing old dirty blues with dixie, early swing, bluegrass and latin folk. As his inspirations he lists Howlin' Wolf, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band or Tom Waits. And you can truly find these artists behind his music. But Belly Hole adds to these sounds something even more melancholic, more theatrical, more intriguing and... freaky? Just by the titles of the songs we might have an idea what we'll get here. "Freexiland", "Elastic Fantastic", "Voodoo Soup Monkey", "Vaudeville". Vaudeville is quite good thread as even if it's hard to believe,  Belly Hole Freak is a one man band. Sounds like it's a hundred piece big band without a conductor but it's just him. That's definitely a live act to see. Follow his Facebook to check when his van (I know, it should be caravan) will visit your hometown.



Album "Superfreak" was released as a digital and as a vinyl by Black vagina Records in 2015. It was repressed this year by Skronk Records. I love the front cover. Gives all the atmosphere of freaky circus. I also love the back cover. I like the weight and quality of black record itself as well. I don't like it's labels though. They're just plain, it's a pity but a small disadvantage to whole. And whole is great. Dirty, messy, chaotic, noisy and simply brilliant!