Albums round-up - February 2014
New releases from St Vincent, Bong, Machines in Heaven and Sevendeaths reviewed
(Caroline International) ●●●●
Back with her fourth solo full-length album, it would appear Annie Clark's runaway train is only gathering steam. Unveiling herself as a retro-futuristic vision of 'first chair of the mad scientists guitar orchestra', 2014 finds St Vincent in full command of her eccentricities and personal musical boundaries. Of which there are very few. Lost at times in convulsing guitars and, at others, fully anchored in sparse, powerful arrangements; this is an album that both confronts and comforts, soothes and shocks, but above all, entertains and enthrals.
(Ritual Productions) ●●●
Forged in the fires of the ancient, rust-covered bowls of the elder pipesmen, or something like that, slow-tempoed Newcastle doom metallers Bong return, all red-eyed and hot-rocked, to bring us Stoner Rock. At once both a parody of this supposed genre as well as a reclamation of the throne, Stoner Rock consists of two mammoth musical movements that nod at the drone-ridden clichés while pushing beyond the limits of the genre to create an evolving and hypnotic example of how to do it right. Spark 'em up.
Machines in Heaven – bordersbreakdown
Machines in Heaven give the impression they operate in the same musical stratosphere as fellow Glasgow folks Errors, mostly in terms of both bands' successful mixing of live and synthesised instruments and textures. But while they often jettison pure electronic pop, they regularly swerve into darker, intoxicating atmospheres and on bordersbreakdown, they show the potential to be a collective of larger musical importance.
James from Errors', aka Infant Telethon, remixes Machines in Heaven's 'Parliament is made from Rice Paper' single:
Edinburgh collaborator Steven Shade (also in LuckyMe’s American Men, alongside Claude Speeed, Eunoia’s Ali Lloyd and Danananaykroyd’s Paul Carlin) simultaneously branches out while also retreating inwardly, with a collection of sprawling, probing synth works dubbed Concreté Misery. The title’s a nod to the electronic compositional style, rather than anything to do with the cold, grey building block, and these six, expansive compositions, forged in night-time solitude, unsettle, entrance and provoke in almost equal measure. Ultimately a record much less difficult to listen to than to explain.